"Don't 'Dys-' Me!" – What is Dyspraxia? | Education Elephant

Dyspraxia refers to the learning disability that affects movement. People with Dyspraxia usually struggle with both fine and gross motor skills, motor planning and coordination, potentially appearing clumsy in their actions, awkward when they walk and slurred when speaking. Dyspraxia is most often a comorbid disorder, occurring in conjunction with other disorders, most commonly ADHD, Dysgraphia, Sensory Processing Disorders, and Autism. Dyspraxia is said to affect up to 8% of the population, however, cases of it can often go undiagnosed or unnoticed depending on the severity of individual cases.

 

Here are some common things to be aware of about Dyspraxia:

  • Dyspraxia is a motor planning disorder – not a muscle deficit
  • An individual can have one or all types of Dyspraxia depending on case severity
  • Affects approximately 8-10% of the population
  • Boys are more commonly affected than girls (70% males diagnosed)
  • Having Dyspraxia does not affect one’s intelligence

3 types of Dyspraxia:

Oral Dyspraxia

  • Difficulty executing non-speech sounds/movements i.e. blowing, licking, swallowing
  • Preference for either soft or hard foods

Verbal Dyspraxia

  • Speech disorder
  • Effects the sequencing of movements required to speak 

Motor Dyspraxia

  • Difficulty planning and executing the correct movements to perform certain tasks
  • Uncoordinated and clumsy movements
  • Struggles with performing tasks on command

Activities to help children with Dyspraxia:

  • Trampolining, to improve balance and strengthen gross motor skills – just make sure that your trampoline has a net and the proper safety precautions are in place.
  • Enrolling in Martial Arts Classes. Not only does this help to develop gross motor skills and coordination, but it also teaches discipline in a fun, active environment, which is beneficial for children who may also have ADHD.
  • Playing with bubbles, as where they go can be unpredictable – get your child to try and pop as many as they can as quickly as they can. Similar activities can also be done with balloons.
  • Using a skipping rope. This can be done independently with a small, individual skipping rope, or as a group activity at home or at school with a longer rope. Skipping rope activities help to strengthen hand-eye coordination and concentration.

 

How to accommodate Dyspraxia in the Classroom:

  • Similarly to Dysgraphia, find alternatives to handwriting i.e. teaching touch typing and implementing it
  • Emphasise step-by-step directions to tasks
  • Allow for extra time on timed activities and assignments

 

With proper diagnosis by a psychologist, such as through a qualified Educational Psychologist and early intervention, all of these learning disabilities can be treated so your children and students can get the most out of their education and most importantly, enjoy learning and going to school without feeling like a burden or a failure. Every child can be successful with the right guidance and goals.

In Ireland, our sister company, Eirim: The National Assessment Agency provides further in-person training courses for educators from time to time in Ireland, as well as an assessment service for schools and students across the country to identify learning needs of students.