Worried your child might be a little too forgetful? Do they fall over often and get injured a lot? Do they spill things way too many times? You’re probably thinking they’re just being clumsy but the situation may be more complex—they may have a condition known as developmental coordination disorder or dyspraxia.
What is dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is characterised by a problem on your child’s physical coordination and affects their motor planning. Children with this condition tend to have developmental delays, including in language skills. It can also affect the way they learn and process thoughts. In short, they have a problem planning actions and executing them.
In order for a child to translate an intent to action, they must know the sequence of steps needed to be done. For example, in a dance class: one knows that doing the steps shown by the instructor is crucial to make a dance move. If your child seems to be having great difficulty imitating or following even the simple sequence of steps, they might have dyspraxia.
What are the symptoms of dyspraxia?
Developmental delays in kids can be observed even in the infancy stage. Familiarise yourself with the developmental milestones a child should exhibit at specific life stage to know if your little one has delays in certain areas.
Being “too clumsy” is one of dypraxia’s symptoms. Here are some other things you should observe:
- Challenging for your child to play with toys that require coordination
- Exhibiting developmental delays like lifting head, crawling, or sitting up
- Generally irritable
- Poor posture
- Difficulty with memory or remembering things
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Can’t organise things and get lost when given instructions
- Speech delays
How is dyspraxia diagnosed?
Diagnosing your child with dyspraxia requires professional medical advice. Assessments can be done by a paediatrician, a paediatric occupational therapist, a paediatric physiotherapist, a clinical psychologist, an educational psychologist, a neurodevelopmental paediatrician, or a paediatric neurologist—those whose expertise include developments in children.
Your child’s diagnosis will depend on the result of the norm-referenced assessment of motor skills, which is usually done by an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, or paediatrician. Both gross motor skills or the ability to coordinate body movements using large muscles, and fine motor skills or the ability to do accurate coordinated movements using small muscles will be assessed. The result will show if your child is exhibiting delays compared to a normal child of the same age. Sometimes, this will be coupled with a test of mental ability. Family history will also be considered.
How to manage or treat dyspraxia
Dyspraxia is not curable. However, there are steps you can take to help your child deal with the condition. A treatment plan may be provided to you once your child has been diagnosed with dyspraxia. In the process, you will find yourself working with a behavioural analyst, a psychologist, a paediatric specialist, and occupational, speech and language, and physical therapists, among others.
Aside from the treatment plan the experts will provide, here are some ways you can manage your child’s dyspraxia:
- Therapy: With the help of a therapist, your child will be taught how to improve the way they deal with challenging tasks.
- Regular exercise: Exercising regularly is highly encouraged among kids with dyspraxia. This will help your child be familiarised with their body and the way it moves, and improves overall wellbeing as well.
- Active play: Any activity that involves physical activity will help your child improve motor skills. It also promotes awareness of the self and environment, and helps your child understand how they can exist with everything around. This will also boost their self-esteem as they deal with other kids after the diagnosis.