(I am not an expert on this condition or any other. Any information I share on this blog is information that I have learnt and what I have interpreted from that as a parent of a child who has dyspraxia)
Dyspraxia is a neurological condition, which causes the messages from the brain to the body to get scrambled up. This makes it difficult to plan, coordinate and carry out specific movements. It affects fine and gross motor movements, balance, posture and coordination. So whilst J knows what he wants to achieve in his mind, he finds it difficult getting his body to carry out the task in a smooth coordinated manner.
The term Dyspraxia literally means Impaired action:
There are certain tasks that we do every day, that we don’t need to think about, we just do them, as we have carried out the tasks many times before, and they have now become second nature to us. An example would be picking up a glass from a table. We reach over, we grab the glass and pick it up, simple. What we are unaware of, is exactly how much work our brain has to do to carry out this task.
Our brains need to judge the distance our arm has to reach over, what angle our arm and hand need to be at to grasp the glass, know how much pressure to put on the glass and what muscles to use to lift the glass. Our brains need to take in the information from the environment (sensory) and then send the messages to our body to enable us to use our muscles in the correct way. If these messages are disrupted then our bodies are going to have a hard time carrying out the job successfully.
Like most tasks we do every day, this requires motor planning, motor control and motor coordination to be carried out successfully. Daily tasks that would normally come naturally and carried out without much thought, such as getting dressed, brushing our teeth, drawing a picture, carrying an object from one end of the room to another, require much more concentration, focus and effort in a person who has dyspraxia.
People who have dyspraxia may also suffer with low muscle-tone and hypermobility, which can make these every day tasks harder again as the joints are more flexible, and the muscles are weak, which can make even just sitting up straight difficult and uncomfortable.
This is why someone with dyspraxia, may often drop objects or bump into things, as they have less control over their bodies, this is why dyspraxia was previously known as “clumsy child syndrome”.
Some tasks that may prove difficult are:
- Jumping, climbing, hopping, skipping, cycling.
- Sitting still. Tends to fidget a lot.
- Eating with a knife and fork, they prefer to use their fingers.
- Tying shoelaces
- Using scissors.
- Writing or drawing, unable to grasp the pencil correctly.
- fastening buttons and zippers.
- Holding on to objects. May tend to drop things a lot.
- Sports and P.E
- Activities that require hand-eye coordination.
- Talking, unable to pronounce sounds correctly, maybe also delayed in language. (Verbal Dyspraxia)
As well as affecting the fine and gross motor skills, dyspraxia can also affect communication, concentration and organisation. The below diagram highlights of some of the main difficulties a person with dyspraxia may have, it is not the same in every person, the range and severity of difficulties can vary from person to person. There are also cognitive, social and emotional difficulties that are linked into dyspraxia. Which I will be posting more about soon.