Dyspraxia in Children
Growing up in general is not easy, but growing up with Dyspraxia only adds to the complications. The reason why it makes life so complicated? The answer is simple:
LACK OF UNDERSTANDING
One of my blogs missions is to help spread the word of Dyspraxia. One of the hardest challenges in a child’s life is School and College as education is where people spend most of their childhood in. Identifying and solving problems early on will help improve the chances of success in the child later on in life. So here is my own Q & A breakdown for assistance on what could be done for possible scenarios:
PROBLEM: Not completing work on time/work is messy
SOLUTION: Make sure the child understands the task at hand.
Speak instructions slowly (and repeat if necessary).
Break the instructions into bite size chunks.
If possible, allow extra time for completion.
Have instructions on a sheet in paper instead on the board.
Make the work suit the child’s strength (for example, doing a presentation on a computer, ot building a model if it’s easier than writing)
PROBLEM: Find it difficult to copy from a board etc onto a sheet of paper.
SOLUTION(S): More time to copy down or let the child copy from a sheet of paper instead.
PROBLEM: Handwriting is messy/slow (It’s probably messy because the child has to rush to keep up or an awkward grasp of pen/pencil)
SOLUTION: More time, pen grips, let them write with a pencil, slanted desk, laptop/keyboard
PROBLEM: Lack of friends/socialising
SOLUTION: Get together similar children into a group so they cansocialise together,
Make a buddy system-just make sure the buddy doesn’t take advantage of their power and abuse it by actually picking on them as that can happen.
PROBLEM:Losing assignments/homework frequently
SOLUTION: Issue a folder for all assignments/homework so reduces chance of losing them.
PROBLEM: Child is not diagnosed with Dyspraxia, however they are ‘different’ to other children such as awkward running, balance, co-ordination and holding a pen, etc
SOLUTION: Raise concerns with their parents as soon as you can
PROBLEM: Child appears lazy or not trying hard enough
ADDITIONAL INFO: Firstly the idea of them being lazy or not working hard enough is a misconception and there is another reason. Those with Dyspraxia can tire easily, find it difficult to start a new task, and/or slow with certain tasks (e.g copying from a white board)
SOLUTION: Allow the child to have adequate rest and if possible have reasonable adjustments (such as copying from a sheet instead of the board)
PROBLEM: Self esteem very low
SOLUTION: Praise good effort or work.
SOLUTION: Know the triggers and know how to calm them down. If you caught off guard then do not restrain/touch the child unless absolutely necessary as you can cause the meltdown to get worst. Instead get the child out of the current situation into a quiet place to calm down. Keep the reassured. Also remember it ISN’T their fault.
Another solution is that if the child is aware of their own meltdowns and knows when one is coming is to allow them to escape the room until the feeling has passed. (Something to consider is that other pupils/students may get annoyed at ‘unfair’ treatment)
PROBLEM: Anything else that occurs
SOLUTION: Listen to the parents/occupation therapists and act on what they recommend. If it is against school principles then find a halfway point.
There some things that I haven’t covered as there are some things that are preventable, while all the above you really have to wait until something occurs in order to act on it. So outlined below are some of my top tips:
- Dyspraxia is not made up.
This is crucial to understand and does cause several problems so be prepared to assist.
An individual with Dyspraxia can get demotivated very easily so praising even the smallest accomplishments is a great way of helping build self esteem and motivation.
- Do not compare them to others.
Every individual is different. But comparing to others in the class can cause embarrassment and this can make them perform worst because they become very anxious about it.
Attending a course can give a better insight to those with Dyspraxia and how you can support them more efficiently.
Those with Dyspraxia can have meltdowns (those similar to those on the Autistic Spectrum etc). Meltdowns will occur differently in different individuals from the triggers, to the type of outburst and the way to solve it. A main trigger a change in routine (different teacher or classroom for example). It is best to give the child as much notice as possible to change then that way they know it’s coming. Also don’t forget to pass on information regarding the child to new teachers/teacher assistants/ supply teachers.
Also there’s being over stimulated from the outside world (Light, sound, touch. smell, etc) or having uncontrollable anxiety and the best way is to stop it is to cut off the things causing the problem or removing the child calmly from the problem reassuring them that they’re not been bad.