Communicating with teachers about dyspraxia

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Communicating with teachers about dyspraxia

Post by allegra44 » Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:12 pm

I am looking for some perspective from this group, since as adults you have been through the school system that my son is now encountering as a dyspraxic 11 year old. We are in the US, so some things will be different from the UK and other places, but the general issues I think are the same. My son is a great kid, sweet and funny and cooperative. However, once he hit elementary school, he encountered a lot of disciplinary issues from the teachers, and bad marks on his report cards regarding behavior. Many of the issues were classic: doesn't pay attention, doesn't complete work during assigned times, doesn't follow instructions. He is also unintentionally rude, asking challenging questions when he doesn't understand the purpose of an activity, refusing to let an issue go, etc. He also has organizational challenges, failure to keep track of assignments, lost papers, etc.

Although his dyspraxia is known to the school system and elements are included in his IEP, I don't feel that dyspraxia is understood generally in the US. From the reaction of his teacher last year, I don't have any confidence that teachers will understand what dyspraxia means, how it influences his actual behavior in class. Instead, all of his behaviors, even those that are clearly dyspraxic, seem to be attributed to misbehavior. Even when it's recognized that dyspraxia is at hand, he seems to be blamed for not just pulling up his socks and acting right.

My concern now is that another school year is at hand. Last year, we began by sitting down with the teacher and talking to him about some of my son's issues. Instead of using the opportunity to understand his dyspraxia and plan strategies to handle the issues, the teacher seemed to take this information as a warning that my son would be a problem student, and treated him with wariness bordering on dislike all year. What experience does anyone have with communicating with educators about dyspraxia, expecially behavioral issues? Should I write an educational letter explaining dyspraxia and my son's issues in school? Should I just do nothing and hope for the best, so as not to put them on their guard against him? Would it be better to sit down in person? Any experience or advice on these subjects would be appreciated.

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Re: Communicating with teachers about dyspraxia

Post by Tom fod » Wed Aug 20, 2014 11:09 pm

Hi Allegra

Unfortunately I'm not an expert on this and haven't experienced this myself other than as a pupil/student myself 20+ years ago. I find I like indeed need to know the ins and outs of a subject and don't like uncertainty or ambiguity as I can become unsettled, Schools do like kids to conform but being dyspraxic we tend not to. Because we're different It feels unnatural even though we may want and try to be the same as the others we aren't quite the same, Others kids notice which further complicates it all. Would it be possible for him to have a mentor or maybe give him opportunity to pair him up with someone he could help if there is a class he is strong in where that responsibility might work to give him focus.

I was more the studious type and a perfectionist to some extent especially where the class interested me. Math was something I struggled with whereas in other subjects I did well or might even have been described as above average or even exceptional.

I think the educational letter is a worthy idea but unfortunately it can be open to different interpretations. Make sure it does not just focus on the problem areas, try to get across his good points in equal measure.
Hope some other people have additional more helpful up-to date or realistic suggestions and/or ideas.

With a foot full of bullets I tried to run faster but I just hobbled on to the next disaster.
(from Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Foot Full of Bullets)

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Re: Communicating with teachers about dyspraxia

Post by Willr0490 » Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:53 am

Whilst I can't really comment on US education, being educated in British schools exclusively, I would imagine a lot does depend on staff members individual attitudes and training.

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Re: Communicating with teachers about dyspraxia

Post by Samuel.eats.grass » Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:33 am

Hi, I'm posting this from an Irish prospective but I know what you're going through (sort of, as a student myself, not a parent). It can be hit and miss with regard to educators and dyspraxia, some are great, some are not so great to say the least. I got lucky at school because I became close to one of the learning support teachers at the school who I had a class with three times a week and I told her any issues I was having and she sorted them out (sometimes it was with other members of staff and misunderstandings with them). I will say that not all behavioral problems are caused by having dyspraxia but obviously it will have a huge effect on a student's ability to 'behave' in class. I found it hard to sit still in class so a teacher got me a rubber ball in press in my hand when I felt like I needed to move. Teachers had a specific strategy for me, and other students like me so they were aware of my needs and not to add to my problems. Some teachers thought that I wasn't paying attention to them because I wasn't making eye contact with them, or even looking at them, I may have been drawing or something because I needed to do that to cope with the noisy classroom but I was actually listening, this may happen to your son too. With regard to instructions this was a challenge for me too because often the teacher doesn't write down instructions due to lack of time etc so they just call them out and I couldn't remember them to save my life, but if the teacher did write things down more it may help. With regard to deadlines, my teachers were advised to be understanding but not too lenient (they knew my abilities etc) so if I was struggling they would let me hand stuff in late without any huge fuss, they also did this for other students too who were just under pressure. I also got notes photocopied from another student in class instead of hand writing everything as it would have taken too long, that way I could listen to what was going on in class and learn more.

There should be one in place for your son which is done sensitively and with the respect he deserves to make his experience of education a positive one. You need to get in touch with the learning support coordinator ASAP because even if this teacher doesn't understand dyspraxia, or care to know about it, they will take note of what the co-coordinator says because they will worry about their job. This person may be able to give them tips which will improve their teaching practice which will benefit your son. It seems like this teacher is afraid due to lack of understanding of dyspraxia and may think of it as a negative thing when in fact it isn't because we have talents. The teacher just needs to work out what they are and play to these strengths. The teacher is probably more likely to pay more attention to a professional report drawn up by a psychologist which also usually suggests how the student may be helped by various teaching methods and supports.

Good luck. :)

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Re: Communicating with teachers about dyspraxia

Post by screengreen » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:46 pm

Hi Do you have an assessment report? If so it should have recommendations for things that help. In my experience here in the UK from a parents and school governors perspective it helps to go with solutions not just the problem. Also have you considered Occupational Therapy, if you are able to fund this even an assessment could be really helpful, providing objective evidence and pointers for strategies I personally would look into OT Sensory integration, but checkout the qualifications of your therapist....... I declare a bias here though I am an OT training to be an SI practitioner...... inspirational people I have been lectured by are Susanne Smith-Roley and Theresa May-Benson ..... the other approach which according to my reading uses cognitive strategies as opposed to changing the neurologic is the CO-OP . Good luck!

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