September 2012
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Dyspraxia and ensuring your child doesn’t struggle

For any parent of a child diagnosed with dyspraxia worrying about their child’s emotional, educational and physical development seem never ending.

Usually, dyspraxia is considered to be an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement, but many find that with this comes with other problems related to language, perception and thought.

Yet it’s important to not feel lost, this syndrome is widely acknowledged and as result many networks and organisations exist to support and help families cope. Talking openly about the condition with your partner and relatives means that it is also not ignored and the whole family can improve their understanding, help and support too.

In fact, involving the whole family in everyday activities helps your child have practical understanding of how to perform daily tasks and activities that they might otherwise find difficult alone. They can also share and develop reading and writing skills. And by seeing how their relatives and siblings act, it can help them assess and modify their own behaviour to suit.

Many parents are constantly seeking ways to aid their dyspraxic suffering child’s development at home, whilst supporting their learning at school. I’ve had many parents raving about trampolines, which seem to be a staple in most homes nowadays, as the physicality of the bouncing releases tension and increases their awareness of body movements.

For children who become frustrated with activities that non-sufferers often take for granted such as writing, drawing, art and craft; many parents are finding special needs resources to help their child overcome these difficulties such as writing slopes, pencil/pen grips and easy grip scissors. (More and more of these are coming onto the market and are easy to find online). Enabling your child to continue to participate in such activities, unhibited, helps them to feel more accepted by their peers and boosts their confidence.

Dyspraxic children can also display difficulties co-coordinating muscle groups to perform simple tasks such as walking, as well as balancing and spatial awareness.  Resources such as tactile tiles/stepping stones are readily available and perfectly suited to develop gross motor skills and don’t need to be restricted to use by them, you, friends and family can all have a go.

Whilst providing your child with inspirational times to learn and share, it is just as important, as with autistic children to create routines and calming environments to encourage your child to relax, focus and take control; sensory bubbles, swing seats or simple dens are perfect for this.

As a parent of a dyspraxic child I know myself and other parents of children with any special need find that they are constantly thinking, worrying and planning around it, but it’s vital that you do not forget yourself or your relationship with your partner and other children (if you have any). Creating special time, dedicated to these other important family members and giving yourself some free-time ensures no one feels neglected, and I know, helps you to take time out, relax and focus on something else. It helps keep me sane!

Notes: Other names for dyspraxia include Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), Perceptuo-Motor Dysfunction, and Motor Learning Difficulties. It used to be known as Minimal Brain Damage and Clumsy Child Syndrome.

Carlo Rossi is a freelance writer and blogs on special needs learning resources covering everything from sensory equipment for autistic children to chatter tracker. He is a parent of a dyspraxic child and has contributed to several special needs blogs in the last year.

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