Out of several learning disabilities, dyspraxia is not one commonly heard by many people. Dyspraxia affects about two percent of children, the majority of which are males. Like many other disabilities, dyspraxia can vary in its degree of severity.
Dyspraxia affects the fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and development in a child. Children with dyspraxia have a difficult time with movement and coordination. Dyspraxia can present itself in a number of different ways in a child, including difficulty jumping, running, cutting, holding a pencil, and more. Dyspraxia normally co-exists with other types of learning disabilities, such as ADD or dyslexia.
Dyspraxia can even be seen in infants. Infants with dyspraxia will have a difficult time crawling, rolling over, and other tasks that include fine motor skills. Infants with dyspraxia eventually learn how to do certain movements, but it takes them a longer time. When a baby with dyspraxia enters childhood, they have difficulties with other tasks that other children can easily do, such as running or jumping.
Signs of Dyspraxia
Children who develop a little slower do not necessarily have dyspraxia, though they may show some of the signs. Instead, children with dyspraxia will have a continued difficulty with fine and gross motor skills, even into their teen years.
Some of the common signs of dyspraxia include but are not limited to the following:
- Trouble completing easy tasks that require hand-eye coordination, such as buttoning a shirt or combing hair
- Difficulty pronouncing words
- Difficulty for others to understand what they are saying
- Slow to establish which hand is their dominant hand
- Frequently clumsiness and bumping into items
- Poor skills of cutting and similar fine motor skills
- Hard time performing easy sports that require coordination, such a jumping rope or kicking a ball
Helping Your Child Succeed with Dyspraxia
While there is no cure for dyspraxia, there is hope. Those with dyspraxia can practice their fine and gross motor skills daily. The daily practice of fine motor skills and gross motor skills can strengthen muscles and help children become better at them. Also, breaking down larger tasks and projects into more manageable tasks can help your child succeed with the task and not get discouraged.
Children with dyspraxia should practice their fine motor skills with daily cutting activities, lacing projects, and coloring. They can practice their gross motor skills by doing activities that strengthen core muscles and help build up muscle memory. Horseback riding, bouncing on a trampoline, and swimming are very helpful exercises for children with dyspraxia.
With all types of learning disabilities, a child often does not feel smart or able, especially if other kids are bullying or teasing them, which is why encouragement and daily practice are necessary. No matter what type of learning disabilities a child may have, there is always hope and room for improvement. With the right help and resources, a child with a learning disability such as dyspraxia can be successful in their environment; it just may take longer than what is considered “normal” to doctors and teachers.
Photo by Scott Ableman