Does your child…
- Take a long time to learn new skills?
- Have trouble manipulating materials or seem excessively clumsy?
- Have difficulty navigating space, sequencing tasks while moving through the environment, navigating crowded spaces, or have poor timing and spatial judgement?
- Have trouble coming up with ideas of what to do or how to play?
- Stick to the same activities?
- Have difficulty imitating and/or following directions?
- “Hate” gym class and have trouble keeping up with the demands?
- Initiate exploration but abandon activities quickly without support?
Dyspraxia is not a term commonly used in the medical community in the United States but is a widely accepted term in Europe and Australia. In the DSM, doctors may diagnose a child with Developmental Coordination Disorder. While this diagnosis shares many of the symptoms of Dyspraxia, it does not fully describe the many areas that are affected daily for a person living with Dyspraxia.
Dyspraxias often stem from foundational deficits in registering, interpreting, and integrating sensory information to gain feedback from the environment as well as adapt and respond to changing task demands.
Ideational Praxis: The ability to recognize object/environmental affordances (-ables) to generate a goal for a purposeful action and some idea how to accomplish the goal.
Sequencing Praxis Deficits: Being able to combine a series of motor actions into a purposeful plan (up to 3 steps).
Execution: Relies on feedforward (motor preparation to execute the plan) and internal feedback to improve performance.
Praxis relies on the integration of cognition and motor skills to execute tasks in real-time to come up with ideas of what to do with one’s body or objects in the environment, plan/sequence motor actions, and execute task demands quickly and efficiently. Deficits can be visual, vestibular, or somato-sensory based in nature. This means that the strategies to address and remediate praxis deficits depends on the nature of the child’s sensory profile and functional impact on a child’s ability to learn, complete daily activities, and integrate feedback from their body and the environment. Many children identified with executive function deficits experience overlapping symptoms in the area of praxis.
Here’s a printable summary of how occupational therapy can help address dyspraxia.
Sensory integrative treatment is tailored to each child’s sensory profile. Treatment occurs in sensory-rich gym environments with specialized suspended equipment and therapists trained in sensory integration theory and practice. Through playful and supportive interactions with the child, he/she learns how to explore and engage in sensory experiences that foster appropriate responses to sensory information. As adaptive motor responses and postural control emerge, the body is then ready to engage in more complex demands.
Treatment often begins with a focus on balancing self-regulation and foundational sensorimotor skill development through the use of suspended equipment in an environment that can be moved/changed to enhance sensory feedback and facilitate adaptive responses to generalize motor skills. This creates a foundation to support motor planning, explore and gain feedback about how to use objects in the environment, and support a child’s ability to select and combine multiple motor plans for execution of task demands.
Additionally, when a child can’t translate verbal directions or visual demonstrations into a motor plan, it is imperative that we utilize body-based experiences to pair language and visual information for access to teaching modalities. We also work on functional skills to teach older children and adolescents with dyspraxia how to break down activities into discreet motor plans so they can do such things as tie their shoes, put a hair tie in, manage school supplies, and prepare simple meals.
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for access to our training videos to learn how to break down tasks for people with dyspraxia.
- Dyspraxia and Learning Guide
- Gill Dixon and Lois M. Addy Routledge (2004) Making Inclusion Work for Children With Dyspraxia: Practical Strategies for Teachers – Parent Picks: Great book on Dyspraxia
- Addy L. How to Understand and Support children with Dyspraxia. 2003. Cambridge: LDA Learning ISBN 185503381X
- Ball MF. 2002. Developmental Coordination Disorder: Hints and Tips for the Activities of Daily Living. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Ltd. ISBN 1843100908|
- Colley M. 2006. Living With Dyspraxia: A Guide for Adults With Developmental Dyspraxia. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Ltd. ISBN-13: 9781843104520 ISBN-10: 1843104520, ISBN e-Book PDF: 1846425441
- Kurtz LA. 2007. Understanding Motor Skills in Children with Dyspraxia, ADHD, Autism, and Other Learning Disabilities: A guide to Improving Coordination. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Ltd. ISBN 9781843108658