This section is really for those who want to find out how to support a Dyspraxic person (Self support is lower down!) However it doesn’t hurt for Dyspraxics to have an idea on how to be treated/supported by others!
To a Dyspraxic person support and understanding is one of greatest things in the world! However I know (and have first hand view) of not getting adequate support. Once I was given a special laptop for typing work because my handwriting was diabolical, my writing speed was slow and also my hand aches sometimes if I write too much. This was taken off me because other students complained because I wasn’t ‘special’. Not exactly the best outcome and just about sums up the support- I wasn’t needy enough to have such a powerful device.
I would say there are three key steps to take before you can support someone with Dyspraxia. It probably seems obvious on paper, however so many don’t even attempt the stages.
1) Get the general ideas behind Dyspraxia so you know what you’re dealing with. Going in half hearted or with just a dictionary term won’t help at all.
2) Find out if the person you need/want to help is actually Dyspraxic to begin with or if they have any other conditions mixed in. Getting the full picture of the individual will highlight the problems much more easily.
3) Find out what problems the individual has so you can provide the correct support. All Dyspraxics are different, they have very different difficulties and strengths that vary from person to person.
As I have said (typed!?) before different people with Dyspraxia require different types of help and assistance. Just going straight in can bring about additional frustration and stress not only on the individual but also on yourself, because you are unable to help properly. Overall you must not show to give upon them, when they do something wrong then you can help dust them off and encourage them through the situation. We can get frustrated over smallest of things and it would be great if there was someone there to say that it’s all right.
Additional it works the other way around! If they do something good, even as simple as pouring a glass of water without spilling then congratulate them-this doesn’t need to be balloons and a banner! Just a simple pat on the back (CAREFUL! Some Dyspraxics don’t like to be touched while some actually do like the contact. Find out otherwise you can cause unnecessary stress) and a “well done”. These are the crucial building blocks to build and keep that self esteem stable and high.
Many Dyspraxics find it hard to show emotion or sometimes it seems they go ‘over-the-top’ with emotion from bursting into tears to uncontrollable anger. I will say it’s because many Dyspraxics find it difficult to handle their emotions properly and the best way to tackle this would be (beforehand!) find out what helps them relax, this could be specific music, a toy/book of some kind or just being alone in a quiet room for a little while. Once they have taken their time out and cooled down they would be in better state of mind to explain what was wrong-even so they can still struggle to explain so take your time with them to fully understand the situation. DO NOT get angry at a Dyspraxic for they are struggling to show that they are angry and it will only frustrate them that YOU do not understand that they are upset/angry. Understanding is a key point in the support and unfortunately it is one of the things lacking from today’s society and system.
Supporting a Dyspraxic Child
My experience of support at school was quite minimal. Throughout primary school nothing was put in place to support me however this is due to lack of knowledge and the because I was in the later years. Secondary school did offer some support however it was not enough and even though they were instructed by many on support for me and they did not see it through. As a result they now know the consequences of ignorance. To stop anything like my experiences from repeating itself below are a series of ways to help the child.
1) Don’t call the child lazy/stupid-they are not either of these things. And in the remote possibility it is that they have lost interest is because it is too hard (see number 2)
2) If a child is struggling with work, see if there is an alternative way for them to do the work set. For example if they have a speech test get them to design a Slideshow instead.
3) Listen to advice of parents, psychologists etc. They have more contact with the child than most others and they get to know how to help them. carry out the instructions or at least try them out for an agreed time.
4) Do not ignore the child
5) But then do not put them in detention for disruptive behaviour-you will find that it is either because the class is winding them up or they are finding work difficult and frustrating
6) Time out periods during class are a great short term solution to let them cool down. However you must address the problem if it persists-find out what winds them up.
7) If available have a one-to-one Teacher Assistant to assist
8) Have group sessions with Children with Learning Difficulties-this will boost self-esteem, give them a sense of belonging and also gives them a chance to mix with other children similar to them-they may even make friends they won’t of normally had!
This list is far from complete and as I think of other things I’ll list them. Of course if you have any ideas then please feel free to message me below!
(This section is aimed mainly at Parents/Guardians)
One of the key factors with Dyspraxia is the self-esteem. As a reminder, self esteem is always in constant danger-you can find that Dyspraxics can quickly loose self confidence in a blink of an eye-the key is to find these triggers that causes self esteem to self destruct and either find a way around them, reduce them or eliminate them completely. However it’s also dangerous for the Dyspraxic if you wrap them in cotton wool-they must be free and just be guided and in time they will find their place in this world!
A few ideas I’ve thought of to help with the self esteem are as follows
1) Encouragement when they do things right
2) Not pressuring them into doing things they don’t like
3) Getting them to see a psychologist how ever many times you feel is reasonable if needed
4) Making sure that schools,clubs etc. Know of the difficulties endured by the individual and what steps could be put in place. Do not let the schools walk over you-you have a right to get things rolling for your child and it’s only discrimination if they don’t do it.
5) Week charts-have a week chart and something simple like Morning, Afternoon, Evening. Then the child can do something like have draw a smiley face, sad face, angry face, etc To show how they felt during that time; if a pattern starts to emerge you can tackle it further and find out why they feel that way on particular times.