Dyspraxia, a form of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination and language development in children and adults. While DCD is often regarded as an umbrella term to cover motor coordination difficulties, dyspraxia refers to those people who have additional problems planning, organizing and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations. Dyspraxia can also affect articulation and speech, perception and thought. (copyright ©2013 Dyspraxia Foundation)
There are certain factors that may increase the risk that a late-talking child in early childhood can lead to the Dyspraxia Diagnosis later on in life, although cognitive ability is not necessarily the problem. You as a parent of your child already know that something is not developing as anticipated. Therefore, we advise you to look for the following symptoms first, in order to examine if you need to check for further concerns or just wait for your child to bloom.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What information we can take from early stage of development?
Symptoms are evident from an early age. Babies are usually irritable from birth and may exhibit significant feeding problems. They are slow to achieve expected developmental milestones. For example, by the age of eight months they still may not sit independently. Many children with dyspraxia fail to go through the crawling stages, preferring to ‘bottom shuffle’ and then walk. They usually avoid tasks which require good manual dexterity.
Does your child progress in his language and/or motor coordination?
Although a child may be slow in language or motor development, he should still be doing new things with his body movements as well as acquiring language, at least every month new words may be added. You see that your child is using language in a communicative way and learning fast to talk then less worries, yet if this process is slow, check for Dyspraxia.
Does your child understand you?
Understanding language generally precedes expression and use. If your child understands most gestures, verbal communication and shows the ability to follow basic gestures and directions but cannot perform to the level is attempts. This gap may lead to dyspraxia verse receptive language delay. Same with instructions to the body and movements, if the child attempts and learns new skills it is a good sign, if each step requires multiple repetition it becomes a concern for Dyspraxia.
Does your child uses gestures?
One study has found that the number of gestures used by late-talking children with comparably low expressive language can indicate late language abilities. Children with a greater number of gestures used for different communication purposes are more likely to catch up with peers. However if a child is getting older and still cannot express language as his peers and all gross motor activities are delayed or require extra efforts then it leads to Dyspraxia and maybe other diagnoses to be reviewed and checked.
How You Can Help?
- Use as much rewards and especially for efforts and less for success (initially).
- Encourage participation and fun rather than competition (to improve confidence as the base for improvement and working towards challenges).
- Teach skills in smaller, more manageable parts (either in language acquisition as well as in motor skills learning).
- Use simple to complex skills approach- it is easier to master simple -1 step activity and slowly build on it.
- Provide clear and concise instructions. Repeat these for the child if necessary.
- It may be helpful to use pictures to illustrate the required skills (language and motor) if the child has real difficulty focusing on verbal instructions.
- Provide your child with a skilled OT and SLP that are trained in Dyspraxia and know how to build skills slowly but considering the steps and the development that can promote positive learning experience.
To learn more:
- Visit theAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association web site.
- ©Apraxia-KIDS℠ – A program of The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association (CASANA)