What is dyspraxia?

Some children despite adequate teaching, a stimulating environment and with a generally normal intellect, have difficulty with movement and specific aspects of learning. Dyspraxia is a difficulty with thinking out, planning and carrying out sensory / motor tasks. The child with dyspraxia may have a combination of several problems in varying degrees.

These include:

* poor balance;
* poor fine and gross motor co-ordination;
* difficulties with vision;
* motor planning and perception problems;
* tactile dysfunction;
* poor awareness of body position in space;
* difficulty with reading, writing, speech;
* poor social skills;
* emotional and behavioural problems.

Dyspraxia is also known by other names including 'developmental co-ordination disorder', 'clumsy child syndrome', 'the hidden handicap', 'motor learning problems', minimal brain dysfunction' or 'sensory integrative problems'

How can dyspraxia be recognised?

Children with dyspraxia may present with some or all of the following:

The pre-school child

Late rolling, crawling, walking; difficulty with steps, climbing, puzzles; difficulty with eye movements - may move head instead of eyes; difficulty with learning new skills instinctively; slow to develop speech.

The older child

Difficulty dressing, tying shoelaces, using cutlery; poor balance; difficulty with riding a bike, difficulty with PE; poor reading skills, poor handwriting; difficulty with remembering instructions and copying from the blackboard; may have difficulty with speech and the ability to express themselves.

What do children with dyspraxia need?

Children with dyspraxia benefit most from one-to-one therapy. They need the support of qualified professionals on a regular basis to help them reach their full potential. Children with dyspraxia need support and understanding in the educational system.

What do the family of a child with dyspraxia need?

The challenges presented by living with a child with dyspraxia frequently go unrecognised outside the immediate family unit. In addition to the normal stresses and strains of raising a family in today's society, families of children with dyspraxia cope daily with their child's ongoing frustration at their own limitations. They also cope with the demand and strain of constant teaching. Families must also deal with their child being misunderstood by the general community and in the educational system.

What families need most is for dyspraxia to be better understood and recognised. With greater awareness, both professionals and the general community could respond to the needs of families in a more supportive way by providing adequate therapy, adequate support in the educational system and practical support to families.

How can the Dyspraxia Association of Ireland help?

Formed in 1995 by Aileen Tierney with parents of children with dyspraxia, the Association aims to:

* raise awareness of dyspraxia in Ireland and create a better understanding of the difficulties children and parents face.
* ensure adequate resources are available to support the needs of children with dyspraxia. This includes occupational therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy; psychological support and education.
* provide an information sharing and support network for parents.
* improve diagnostic services.
* organise meetings for parents and their children.
* provide a parent / professional link.

For further information, contact:

The Dyspraxia Association

c/o Communications House
Unit 58, Spruce Avenue
Stillorgan Industrial Estate
Co. Dublin

Back to top

Discussions on this topic are now closed.