Dyspraxia and what it is
Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder) is a neurological disorder where physical movement and coordination of muscles (praxis) is adversely affected and difficulty doing such things arises. Children with dyspraxia have a hard time with their gross and fine motor skills, motor planning, and speech/language. Most children with dyspraxia have a combination of Ideomotor dyspraxia and ideational dyspraxia, ideomotor being speed of motor activities and ideational being the organization and planning of motor activities. 2 other types of dyspraxia are oromotor and constructional dyspraxia. Oromotor is difficulty with muscle coordination needed for speech and constructional is difficulty understanding space and spatial relationships. There is a spectrum of severity that appears with dyspraxia, with children ranging from the low end to the severe end depending upon their symptoms.
Symptoms of Dyspraxia
Children with dyspraxia may have difficulty with
• with playground activities such as:
o jumping, running, kicking a ball, catching a ball,
• walking up or down stairs
• getting dressed
• organizing things in their life
• handwriting that may be abnormally sloppy and unreadable
• holding items and doing fine motor tasks such as tying shoes
• eating and using utensils
• coordinated movement and physical activities (such as monkey bars or riding a bicycle)
• overall balance and coordination of body
Along with physical disabilities, dyspraxia is associated with problems with the working memory, thus dyspraxic children may forget to do chores, to turn in assignments, to follow directions, and where they put items. Tasks with several steps are often quite difficult for them and they frequently avoid these types of tasks because of that reason. These children usually are very clumsy, bump into things, and fall over often. They may suffer from social skill problems too, and may not be able to make friends very easily. They often avoid playing in team games because they do not want to be bullied or made fun of because of their symptoms.
Diagnosis of Dyspraxia
In order to accurately diagnose dyspraxia, a pediatrician usually working in tandem with an occupational therapist gives a norm-referenced assessment of a child’s motor skills. The assessment specifically tests gross and fine motor skills. Once the assessment has been made, other criteria that must be met are a normal level of cognitive ability for the child’s age, the lack of motor ability dramatically affects the child’s home and school life, and that the lack of motor skills is not caused by some other condition such as Cerebral Palsy or a learning disability.
Treatment of Dyspraxia
Treatment of dyspraxia involves different types of therapy, namely occupational therapy for the activities of everyday living or physical therapy for the affected motor skills. The approach of task-orientation therapy has its approach in the improvement of certain tasks through repetition and the approach of process-orientation therapy focuses on things like sensory integration. The occupational therapist can break down tasks into smaller components to make it easier to accomplish and master for the dyspraxic child and can then help them with their general motor skills (both gross and fine) with other tasks and activities. This is a combination of task-oriented and process-oriented therapy.