Dyspraxia is a disorder of movement and co-ordination which is usually identified in childhood. It is sometimes also called Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD).
Dyspraxia impacts on each person in different ways at different stages of their development. It can affect any, or all, of physical, language, social, sensory and intellectual development. For some, the immune system may also be affected.
The child or adult with dyspraxia has difficulties in the way their central nervous system forms ideas (ideation) plans, and then executes motor tasks. This means that physical activities are hard to learn and difficult to retain. This often results in hesitant or awkward performance of novel, unfamiliar tasks and activities. There is no cure, but regular therapy can help improve difficulties.
Children with dyspraxia may present with motor problems such as poor balance, poor posture, fatigue, clumsiness, speech or feeding difficulties, perception problems and poor eye-hand co-ordination.
The very young child may take longer to sit, crawl, stand, walk or speak. Potty training may also be delayed.
In early childhood, a number of difficulties may present. These include problems with:
- fine motor skills, such as tying shoelaces, doing up buttons and zips, using cutlery, handwriting, using scissors, awkward pencil grip, colouring in, drawing and jigsaw puzzles
- gross motor activities, for example getting dressed, going up and down stairs, and playground games such as jumping, playing hopscotch, catching and kicking a ball, hopping and skipping
- processing thoughts, particularly at speed, concentration and attention, coping from a blackboard
- joining in playground games, finding and keeping friends
- bumping into things, falling over, dropping things, fidgeting, hesitant slow actions, losing things
- learning new skills – encouragement and practice can help a lot.
The older child continues to have difficulties with the activities outlined above. They may also try to avoid sports, spend a long time getting written work finished, find it hard to follow and remember instructions, have difficulties with self-organisation and find sensory stimuli hard to filter.
Adults with dyspraxia often present with poor posture and fatigue, writing and drawing difficulties, unclear speech or jumbled word order, problems planning and organising their thoughts and tasks, clumsiness, grooming and dressing difficulties, problems getting chores done, problems with activities requiring, eye-hand co-ordination, get easily frustrated, have low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, experience sensory sensitivities and mood swings.
How can KMA help?
KMA can help with children’s occupational therapy by carrying out an assessment to identify whether a child has the characteristic features of dyspraxia.
We use a range of standardised tests and assessments which are specifically designed for use with children. Assessments can be carried out to:
- help determine medical, developmental or educational diagnosis (in co-operation with other relevant professionals)
- document developmental, functional and participation status
- plan intervention programmes
- measure progress and outcomes
The assessment will firstly involve gathering relevant details about the child’s developmental history, which is usually done through having a detailed conversation and completing a background questionnaire. The Occupational Therapist may also want to talk with a child’s school in order to help them understand how that child is managing with their everyday activities in the classroom. Parental permission is always sought before school is contacted.
Next, the Occupational Therapist will carry out a detailed assessment of the child’s fine and gross motor skills. They will assess how well the child uses the large muscles that co-ordinate body movement, such as jumping, throwing, walking and maintaining balance. They will also examine how well the child uses smaller muscles, including twin shoelaces, doing up buttons, writing and cutting out shapes with a pair of scissors. The Therapist may also assess the child’s visual perceptual, visual motor and / or sensory processing skills where these appear to be causing difficulty for the child in everyday tasks.
A dyspraxia assessment usually takes up to 3 hours to carry out.
KMA will produce a detailed, yet accessible report within 10 working days of the assessment. This will provide a summary of the person’s abilities and whether they display difficulties which are consistent with a diagnosis of dyspraxia. Recommendations to help develop skills and remediate difficulties will also be made.
As Occupational therapists at KMA, our focus is on supporting occupation (the everyday activities of family life, play and learning) and participation. We provide a child-centred and family-centred service using strengths-based approaches. Our professionals are highly trained and experienced in children’s Occupational Therapy and are passionate about providing evidence-based interventions to improve functional performance. Each intervention plan will be individual, underpinned by occupational therapy philosophy. Our ultimate aim is to help a person to achieve their goals and improve their functional performance. It is not possible to cure dyspraxia, but different ways of learning and approaching a task can help the child to reach their full potential.
Your KMA Occupational Therapist will work with the child (and parents) to address daily demands and challenges. Therapy will be tailored to needs identified in the assessment and will focus on the development of skills in the areas that are most difficult. Our KMA Occupational Therapists are also keen to promote strengths and will help the child to use their strengths and develop their confidence and self-esteem.
Examples of common treatment aims include:-
- Handwriting support
- Postural assessment and strategies
- Fatigue management
- Motor / movement planning and sequencing
- Strength and muscle tone improvement
- Improving their ability to play sports e.g throw and catch
- Work with the school to develop strategies and appropriate adaptations
- Support and training for school staff to promote understanding
- Focused work on improving independence in daily tasks such as washing and dressing
Do you know someone who has difficulty…
- Throwing and catching?
For further help or assistance please call our team on 01264326308