Dyspraxia is a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD). People with dyspraxia have difficulty planning, sequencing and carrying out new or unfamiliar movements often appearing awkward or poorly co-ordinated. They have difficulty with handwriting, doing up buttons and laces, running, jumping, riding a bike, throwing and catching etc.
Children with dyspraxia usually achieve their motor milestones however they often achieve them towards the later end of what is considered to be the normal range. They begin to show difficulties with self-care as expectations of their skills grow. They find playing with toys difficult and choose to play more imaginative games involving role play and gross motor movements rather than play with small fiddly toys that involve more planning and coordination. Diagnosis of dyspraxia often occurs shortly after a child begins school when time limits start to be put on tasks such as getting ready to go to school. In addition, expectations of neatness and organisation increase as a child reaches school age and they are made to take part in activities which they may have previously avoided. Their handwriting comes under scrutiny as does their ability to use scissors and colour pictures, all things that they may find more difficult than other children.
If dyspraxia remains undiagnosed, children can appear ‘lazy’ or appear to be avoiding activities and adults may think that they do not care. Children may then lose their self-confidence and stop trying so it is very important to get the right help early in order for a child to achieve their potential and keep their self-confidence high.
How can Kate Meads Associates help?
Kate Meads Associates are able to carry out an assessment that will identify whether a person has the characteristics of dyspraxia. It will focus on how the person carries out their day to day activities and how their difficulties prevent them from doing the things that they want or need to do.
At the start of the assessment our occupational therapist will have a detailed conversation to discuss how the person is finding things difficult and what the concerns are about their function. They will ask about the person’s early years e.g. how old they were when they crawled and walked etc. The occupational therapist may also want to talk with a child’s school if applicable in order to help them to understand how that child is managing at school and whether the teachers have observed any concerns. The school will only be contacted with parental permission.
Finally, the occupational therapist will carry out a detailed assessment of the person’s abilities with fine and gross motor tasks including activities such as drawing, colouring, doing up buttons etc as well as running, jumping and throwing and catching. The occupational therapist will be watching for any challenges with these activities as well as identifying the sorts of things that may help.
A dyspraxia assessment can take up to 3 hours as our occupational therapists will be thorough in their assessment and ensure they assess all aspects of the person’s life. It is important to fully understand their strengths and difficulties before considering whether they may have dyspraxia.
Kate Meads Associates will produce a detailed, yet accessible report within 10 working days of the assessment. This will provide a summary of the person’s abilities and whether they demonstrate characteristics of dyspraxia as well as a number of recommendations that might help address some of the issues.
Therapies and treatment
Our occupational therapists are highly trained and experienced and are passionate about providing evidence-based interventions to improve functional performance. Each treatment plan will be individual, underpinned by occupational therapy philosophy, taking a person-centred and strengths-based approach. Our ultimate aim is to help a person to achieve their goals and improve their functional performance.
The occupational therapist will work with the person to understand daily demands and what they need to be able to do better or to feel more confident in. Treatment will be tailored to you (or your child’s) needs and will focus on developing the areas that are most difficult. Our occupational therapists are also keen to promote strengths and will help the person to use their strengths and develop their confidence and self-esteem.
Examples of common treatment aims include:-
- Handwriting support
- Postural assessment and strategies
- Fatigue management
- Motor / movement planning and sequencing
- Strength and muscle tone improvement
- Improving their ability to play sports e.g. throw and catch
- Work with the school to develop strategies and appropriate adaptations
- Support and training for school staff to promote understanding
- Focused work on improving independence in daily tasks such as washing and dressing
Do you know someone who has difficulty…
- Throwing and catching?
- With handwriting?
If so, please contact one of our occupational therapists on 01264 326308 for a free “no obligation” telephone consultation to discuss your needs and find out how we may help.
View our case study about Paul, a 12 year old boy who has a moderate learning disability and severe dyspraxia.