Life as a young person with Dyspraxia
Life as a young person with Dyspraxia
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia, is a condition which affects around 5% of school children; that’s around one in twenty. It’s therefore likely that in most classes there is a child with Dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is becoming increasingly well understood, although there is no known cause. It’s thought that Dyspraxia is a neurological condition which affects individuals life long, not just in childhood. The Dyspraxia foundation defines Dyspraxia as: A condition affecting movement and coordination in children and adults.
Although Dyspraxia is a lifelong condition, adults and young people present differently to children with the condition as they have developed adaptive (or maladaptive, in some cases) coping strategies to manage their difficulties.
What is life like for a young person with Dyspraxia?
Although Dyspraxia is predominantly a movement disorder, it can impact on all aspects of day to day life in some way, including:
- Difficulties completing fine motor tasks (e.g. negotiating fastenings).
- Difficulties remembering appointments, meetings, and classes.
- Difficulties with planning ahead, problem solving, and coping with change.
- Difficulties with time management and meeting deadlines.
- Difficulties prioritising tasks in order of importance.
- Difficulties remembering to complete basic self-care tasks (e.g. showering & eating).
- Difficulties focusing / paying attention to a task.
- Negotiating obstacles within their environment.
- Difficulties navigating familiar and unfamiliar places (e.g. local area).
- Difficulties understanding, processing, and recalling information.
- Planning and organisation of written work and projects.
- Difficulties with social communication and self-esteem.
- Low muscle tone resulting in joint pain and fatigue.
What are the common myths about Dyspraxia?
As with most developmental disorders and medical conditions, there are a myriad of myths and false beliefs around Dyspraxia, including:
- People with Dyspraxia are just lazy
Dyspraxia impacts the way in which a person controls their muscles to execute movement. This means that people with Dyspraxia use more energy controlling their movements than most, meaning they fatigue easily and may need to rest more than others.
- People with Dyspraxia are just ‘clumsy’ or ‘ditsy’
Because people with Dyspraxia struggle to control their muscles, their movements may seem uncoordinated or awkward, and they may seem accident prone. This is not because they aren’t being careful, but rather because coordination can be extremely difficult for people with Dyspraxia.
- People with Dyspraxia are less intelligent
Much like Dyslexia, Dyspraxia may impact on learning, however neither condition causes decreased intelligence and there are no connections between Dyspraxia and low IQ. At times, someone with Dyspraxia may struggle to express their thoughts and ideas clearly, or to complete work as quickly as others – this is largely due to executive functioning difficulties, rather than intelligence.
What strengths do people with Dyspraxia have?
- Creative and original thinking
While people with Dyspraxia may struggle with some areas of flexible thinking, they can in fact be extremely creative and have many original ideas in relation to topics of interest.
- Good strategic thinking and problem-solving
While some seemingly ‘straightforward’ tasks may not come so easily, many individuals with Dyspraxia have excellent logical thinking skills and problem solving skills with more complex tasks.
- Able to develop own strategies to overcome difficulties and to help others
Growing up with neurodiversity can make the world a difficult place to navigate. As a result, by the time they reach young adulthood, many individuals with Dyspraxia have developed their own strategies which work for them, and therefore are excellent at helping others to find their own strategies.
What strategies might help a young person with Dyspraxia?
There are many things you can do to support a young person with Dyspraxia. While there is no ‘cure’ for Dyspraxia (it’s not an illness!), there are many ways that others can help to make life easier for someone with Dyspraxia.
- Ensuring instructions are given in written form and broken down into chunks.
- Minimising sensory stimuli in the working or learning environment (e.g. noise, bright lights).
- Allowing extra time to complete tasks such as school work.
- Give examples when asking to complete an unfamiliar task to help with planning.
- Encourage to use visual organisers, timers, and alarms to manage time and responsibilities.
- Encourage to use available technology – there are plenty of great apps for organisation.
- Encourage regular physical exercise to help develop muscle tone and minimise pain.
- Providing flexible seating options (e.g. a wobble cushion) during focused tasks.
- Encourage to take part in social activities which match interests (e.g. art, sport).
- Provide structure to help ease into social situations (e.g. use of board games).
We hope this blog has helped to understand a little more about Dyspraxia for young people, including an understanding of strategies to support with management of difficulties associated with Dyspraxia.
If you have any questions about this topic, or would like more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also wish to attend our upcoming webinar on this subject; details will be posted on our Facebook page which you can find by searching ‘Seirrah Therapies’.
Thank you for reading!