Dyspraxia is something which can have a big impact on a person’s comfort in school.
Here’s some advice on how to approach it
Like all professional fields, education continues to develop as time goes on. We are increasingly developing a better understanding of how to help children (and adults) to learn happily and efficiently. And one of the most important things that educators have come to realize, is that no two students are alike. However, as this is an ongoing process, there are plenty of factors that we still don’t have a very good understanding of, and one of those is a condition called dyspraxia.
Dyspraxia (also known as ‘developmental coordination disorder’, or DCD) has surprisingly low general awareness about it, considering how common it is. While it can have a variety of impacts on a person (both direct and indirect), it primarily affects a person’s fine and/or gross motor skills. And you may not realize how broad the range of ways this can manifest itself is, until you stop and think about it. After all, motor skills factor in some way into every action we take. Therefore, dyspraxia can impact a person in any combination of the following ways.
Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most common ways that dyspraxia can impact someone. This includes awkward movements, poor spatial awareness and difficulty adapting their motor skills to new situations.
People with dyspraxia sometimes have difficulty organizing themselves. This is because dyspraxia can also have an impact on attention, memory and time management.
People with verbal dyspraxia have significant trouble managing the precise movements needed for clear speech. Because of this, they can also have trouble keeping up with conversations; with long pauses needed before they can respond. It is possible to have verbal dyspraxia by itself, or alongside the other symptoms listed above.
If you’re a parent or teacher who recognizes these symptoms in a child, it’s important to take steps to get them officially diagnosed. It could, of course, turn out to be a different learning difficulty (many of them have overlapping symptoms). However, if your child has a learning difficulty, it’s important for it to be identified as soon as possible, regardless of what it is. Because an unrecognized learning difficulty can have an indirect, but insidious, impact on a person. Specifically, it can have a damaging impact on their self-esteem.
If a child sees their peers doing something with minimal difficulty and then struggle with it themselves, they can come to the conclusion that there’s something wrong with them, or that they’re ‘stupid’. This can be made worse by adults who mistake their troubles for laziness, or a simple refusal to do the work. For example, a child with dyspraxia might be assigned extra handwriting practice, in spite of the fact that there’s nothing they can do to make their handwriting neater.
This is why it’s crucial for dyspraxia and other learning difficulties to be identified as early as possible. This helps the child understand that they are not ‘stupid’ and adults recognize that they aren’t ‘lazy’. It’s simply that they are struggling to learn in an environment that is not suited for them. Once adjustments are made for them, children with learning difficulties can excel academically just as much as other children.
So, if you suspect your child/student has dyspraxia (or another learning difficulty), the best thing you can do is seek a professional diagnosis. It’s the best way to ensure that you and others will be equipped to support them properly.