Dyspraxia - Developmental Coordination Disorder

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What is dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It is more officially known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

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How common is dyspraxia?

Approximately 5-10% of children suffer from the condition. It tends to affect more boys than girls with a ratio of between 2 and 4 boys to 1 girl with the condition. Within a normal class there is likely to be between 1 and 3 children with dyspraxia.

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How does dyspraxia present in pre-school and early primary aged children?

Parents often notice that their child is still having difficulty with dressing. In particular: doing up buttons and tying shoe laces. Other indications include:

struggles when picking up small objects
difficulty learning to ride a bicycle
poor coordination when catching and throwing a ball
being a messy eater
poor drawing skills and inaccurate copying
poor pencil grip and difficulty with handwriting
difficulty placing jig-saw pieces
Some children may also experience speech and language or pronunciation difficulties caused by problems coordinating the various movements of the mouth and tongue.
Some children may also have some difficulties with concepts involving spatial awareness such as their left / right orientation and positional prepositions such as in, on, over, under, next to, behind, in front of, etc

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How does dyspraxia present in older children and teenagers?

Sometimes children reach secondary school age without a diagnosis of dyspraxia or without it being considered. This is often because their difficulties have been given some other explanation. These students often have poor self-esteem and commonly history of challenging behaviour and friendship difficulties.

Parents and school staff should consider dyspraxia as a possible cause when children present with some of the following:

Students may dislike games and P.E. lessons and/or have difficulty with activities that involve running, hopping, jumping, catching/kicking balls. They appear uncoordinated when using sports equipment such as bats and racquets. They may also have difficulty understanding and remembering rules of team games and demonstrate poor spatial awareness of the playing area. They may tend to get tired quicker than peers. These students may take longer to change for P.E. lessons and have particular difficulty with footwear.
Difficulties with handwriting persist into secondary school. They have a very slow handwriting speed and usually fail to complete written tasks during lessons. They may also struggle with drawing accurate diagrams. The overall presentation of work is often poor and difficult to read.
Students may have difficulty using practical classroom equipment - this can include rulers, scissors, compasses, protractor and other specialist equipment used in science, art and technology lessons.
Students may tend to fall over more and cope less well with puberty growth spurts than peers.
When sharing a desk space with others they may tend to spread their things out beyond their own space. For example they appear to take up more than half a shared desk designed for two. They may lack awareness of intruding on other's personal space.
These students may be labelled clumsy as they often bump into objects or people in the classroom.

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