Learning disorders like dyspraxia are not signs of low intelligence or in the case of dyspraxia, muscle weakness. They are actually brain-based conditions that make it difficult for the affected child to orchestrate physical movements, control speech and learn in a traditional classroom environment.
If your child has been diagnosed with this condition, they may struggle with posture and balance. In fact, they may seem “out of sync” or even clumsy.
Find out more about the signs of dyspraxia and how to manage it.
What is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects the neurological system and impacts coordination and movement in children. With a dyspraxia disorder, the messages that the brain is sending to muscles are interrupted. The diagnosis is often seen in early childhood, but it can also happen after a brain injury or illness, known as apraxia.
Dyspraxia may also be considered a developmental coordination disorder or DCD. It is diagnosed when children don’t develop their motor skills at the appropriate age. Some children do outgrow dyspraxia, but most continue to struggle with movement into adulthood. The causes of dyspraxia are unknown.
Three types of dyspraxia exist:
Motor: causes issues with skills needed for dressing, writing, or doing physical activity
Verbal: impacts speech
Oral: makes it difficult to move the mouth and tongue
How Does Dyspraxia Affect a Child?
The condition can affect your child’s ability to jump or walk, as well as other gross motor skills. It may also impact their fine motor skills, such as hand movements needed to write properly, and tongue and mouth movements needed to properly pronounce certain words. A child with dyspraxia may be able to complete a task or perform the skill one time but have difficulty at another time.
Dyspraxia may also affect a child’s social skills. The child may not be as mature as others their age, even though they have intelligence that’s above average.
The Sign and Symptoms of Dyspraxia
The condition affects every child differently, while some experience mild dyspraxi symptoms and others more severe. The signs seen may also differ as your child ages. However, in most cases, the symptoms are seen early in life, with babies being extremely irritable and having problems feeding. They may also have a hard time meeting developmental milestones, including sitting up, rolling over and walking.
The signs also change as a child ages.
For toddlers, some of the signs of the condition include:
Prefers to eat with fingers, not utensils and is an overall messy eater
Is delayed when toilet training
Can’t play ball or ride a tricycle
Doesn’t play with puzzles or construction toys
Unable to talk well with kids their age and may not say single words until the age of 3
For preschool and early elementary school children, the common symptoms include:
Bumping into things and people
Issues learning to skip and jump
Difficulty working zippers, snaps and buttons
Unable to speak at the right pitch, volume or speed
For grade school and middle school aged children, the signs include:
Desire to avoid gym class
Trouble following directions
Weak muscle tone
Symptoms in high school children include:
Issues with sports
Falls, trips and bumps into things often
Repeats things and talks constantly
Loses and forgets things
Can’t pick up on nonverbal signals
If you notice your child experiencing any of these symptoms or other developmental delays, speak with your pediatrician about a diagnosis.
How dyspraxia is managed depends on what motor skills are affected. With speech or oral dyspraxia, the child may attend speech therapy to help them learn how to form words correctly. Alternatively, if dyspraxia affects motor skills, they may need occupational therapy. Occupational therapists can help those learn new ways to accomplish tasks.
Children with this condition may feel awkward or embarrassed if they struggle to perform certain skills in front of others. Therapy can help the child develop self-confidence, which can improve their social skills.
The Brain Balance Program uses sensory, physical, and cognitive activities to encourage the brain to develop new pathways. These exercises can help the child learn skills and strengthen their motor, speech, and oral abilities.
If you are worried about your child, it’s a good idea to speak with a professional about how to best address dyspraxia. For academic challenges that may arise as a result of dyspraxia, consider the Brain Balance Program. Contact us to learn more!