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What is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that impairs movement, so children with this problem are often considered clumsy. Dyspraxia is a genetic condition found more commonly in boys than in girls and is more common than you might think. Studies show that about 10% of the population is affected, with about 2% experiencing severe symptoms.


Dyspraxia Symptoms
Children with dyspraxia may be late in reaching milestones, and may not be able to run, hop or jump, for example, when their friends can. They may find it hard to walk up and down stairs, and may not be able to dress easily. Their speech may be immature or unintelligible in their early years. Language may be impaired or late to develop. Poor handwriting is one of the most common symptoms

At school, a child with dyspraxia may have difficulty with maths and writing stories. They may avoid games, be slow at dressing and unable to tie shoelaces, be poorly organised or have a short attention span. They may find it hard to remember and follow instructions. Poor handwriting is one of the most common symptoms.


Dyspraxia Treatment
Dyspraxia cannot be cured but the child will improve in many ways as they get older. However, it is important that a proper diagnosis is made, as the earlier a child is treated, the greater chance of improvement.

Once dyspraxia has been diagnosed, treatment is available from a variety of specialists including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and speech and language therapists. An occupational therapist will look at how the child manages everyday activities at home, school, and during play, providing help with skills development where necessary. For example, help may be required with speech or behaviour, or in academic areas, such as numeracy, spelling, reading and literacy.

 

Treatment may also involve perceptual motor training which is a set of tasks that cover language, visual, motor and auditory (hearing and listening) skills. The child may be given a graduated series of exercises to develop these skills. Each exercise is difficult enough to challenge the child but not so difficult that the child becomes frustrated. This combined with extra help at school can all help a child to overcome many difficulties.

 

If your child has dyspraxia
If you have just found out that your child has dyspraxia, the first thing to do is ... don't panic. There are other people who understand what you are going through. There are also sources of information which can help you to handle the problems, now and in the future.

A first positive step may be to join a local support group of the Dyspraxia Foundation. Talking to other parents and meeting families in the same position as you can really help you to get difficulties into perspective. The Foundation holds regular conferences where parents meet and find out more about the condition. There are also email groups where parents, and people who have dyspraxia themselves, discuss their difficulties. Ask your local medical practise for details.