I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

A place to talk about your experience of living with Dyspraxia

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I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by Macey »

Hi all,

I'm new here and was wondering if anyone could help Me out with my daughter who I suspect has dyspraxia. I know this forum is about how adults deal with dyspraxia, but if anyone could share there experiences that they went through as a child, it could help me know how to better help my daughter.

I have searched the internet for information about children with dyspraxia, and have found some good ones that explain from a parent's point if view, but this is the first one that has people who actually have dyspraxia, and know exactly what it's like to go day-to-day with dyspraxia.

First, a little about my daughter: She is 10 years old and has been in speech therapy since she was 4 years old. She didn't really start talking until she was about 3, and it was only a few words that were usually said incorrectly. She is still currently in speech therapy and has made good progress, although there are still quite a few words that she can't say correctly.

She did reach all of her milestones on time (crawling, walking, dressing herself, etc.) But she does still struggle with things like dribbling a ball, and holding her pencil correctly. Also, her handwriting is so bad that you can barely read it. Her spelling is not very good either. And she may know how to spell a word one day, but not remember how to spell it the next day.

She is also very shy, she rarely talks when she is in a crowd, and when she does talk, it's so quiet that you can't really hear what she is saying, even if you are standing directly beside her. And she will sometimes forget common words. An example of this would be that the other day, we drove over a bridge, and when we got home, she tried to tell her dad, but she couldn't remember the word "bridge." She could describe what a bridge was but just couldn't get her brain the spit the word out.

She also has bad posture, is pretty clumbsy, walks kind of stiffly , and has high anxiety. She has always done fairly well in school, but this year, she is in middle school, and is having a hard time doing her assignments on time, and remembering which class to go to next, when the bell rings.

Do any of these things sound like dyspraxia? Her occupational therapist said she may have it, but said that she can't diagnose it because it can only be diagnosed by a doctor. And her doctor said that dyspraxia is not an "actual thing," it's just a myth. And I don't know if it's just the part of the country that I live in, but I'm having a hard time finding anyone (Including doctor's) in the U.S. who have even heard of the word "dyspraxia."

So I am kind of at a loss as to how to help her. If anyone could tell me what your parents did to help you as a child, or what you wish they would have done, that would help me tremendously! Also, if you can think of any other advice that might help her, I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you everyone!
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Re: I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by Tom fod »

Hi Macey and welcome.

My understanding is that DCD may be the more common term in N America. You're obviously making an effort to try to help your daughter. It's now 30 years since I was 10

There is a book Caged in Chaos by Victoria Biggs which may be useful/of interest. Equally there is material to be found on You Tube too. I don't hold my pen right and teachers failed to change that. I guess my advice would be don't despair of your daughters difference. Encourage her in finding the different ways that personally work for her and help her to accept that different can be and is OK too.

Can fellow Forum members think of anything to add here?

All the best

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: I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by Tabby »

I'm not sure what advice to give, though I think counseling would be good if she is dealing with anxiety. I remember dealing with a lot of anxiety and depression when I was young (ok, I still do now, but it's not as difficult to deal with) preferably with a therapist/school's therapist and not a generic school counselor who are more there to help your kid with stuff related to school.

Other than that... I would just be patient. I know it's frustrating for me when I try to talk to people and they can't hear me, because from my perspective my hearing is sensitive so the "super quiet" voice sounds like a normal speaking volume to me. Then I have to keep repeating myself and raising my voice and people get offended that I was "yelling" at them #-o

The word thing... comes and goes. It's usually worse when tired or stressed out. I've been stressed out a lot at college lately so a big chunk of my vocabulary is gone. But it's not really something I would worry about? There isn't much you can really do about it in my experience other than be patient, and try to help out. I dunno if I can describe this properly, but if she can try and describe what she is talking about in a couple of words, say something like "do you mean ___?" or basic questions that have one word answers that would describe what word is missing. I don't know about her, but if she's like me than she can remember stuff by association, so trying to fish stuff randomly out of my memory is difficult, but it's a lot easier when you can string little pieces of info together.

As for doctors... unfortunately I can't help you there. I've been undiagnosed my whole life despite being in OTPT and counselling throughout school. I truly think it's a lack of information here in the US. Most doctors will know about ADHD or dyslexia, but for some reason nobody knows about dyspraxia. I didn't even know about dyspraxia until I was in my early 20's and looking up information on autism/aspergers (they have a high co morbidity rate).

Perhaps you can print out some information for her doctor? There are a ton of studies out there about dyspraxia. If they still blow you off after that then I'd suggest going to a new doctor if possible.
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Re: I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by screengreen »

Hi Macey,
From your description, your daughter sounds like she may have sensory integrative dysfunction, there are excellent OTs dealing with this in the US, you may want to look up Susanne Smith-Roley (she taught me on PG cert in sensory integration and praxis), Zoe Mailloux or Diane Parham and ask for a recommendation of an OT in your area. Is your OT sensory integration trained if so ask for a SIPT. a useful book is from Jeannie with love, includes a first hand account of sensory integrative dysfunction, you may also want to look at sensory integration and the child by A Jean Ayres, or the out of sync child. Hope this is useful good luck!
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Re: I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by Tomtom »

Hi Macey, I cannot stress enough that joining a swimming club would do wonders for your child. My mum put me in a swimming club when I was around 10, it has been incredibly helpful for me. It helps with balance etc, and provides a good social environment, which will help her with her anxiety in the long term. As for the diagnosis, dyspraxia is sometimes referred to as 'Developmental Co-ordiantion Disorder' this might help :)
Also, I have many, many four letter words for your doctors- I believe that there are even World health Organization codes for dyspraxia...
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Re: I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by ivlostmypurse »

I agree about the swimming club, it's not a team sport so social aspects are less magnified. It's a great source of self esteem and coordination boosting.

It really helped with me, I too have sensory problems so I find it hard in environments with lots of interupting sounds. Like I can't bear to be on the phone if people are in the same room talking. I Just can't separate from it. I need to see people speaking generally. I have to make song lyrics up.
So be conscious of environment is it too loud too much... can you dip lower so she can clearly see everyone's face.

My memory and organisation is terrible and I do remember constant argument with my parents about this.
Paticularly I remember my room always being awful so much so I didn't want people to see it. If I can't see something it's lost so keep it minimal.
Now I advise people to have walking wardrobes if applicable, shelves instead of cupboards etc... I even have labels now too. Hooks everywhere for coats hats scarves I try to make it look artistic and functional.

My behaviours thst reflect my condition I get so tired in artificial lights which can mean I display negative behaviours, physical symptoms will be dry nose and dry sticky eyes.

I suffer with stress anxiety with dyspraxia, however
Don't worry about overly intervening though because we as a group of dyspraxics get by... we have very alternative ways of doing things that work for us individually. Alternate ways I have been suggested have some times just created further hurdles. I have been more reflective and open minded to try out things as an adult.

I'm always trying to find that word as like the bridge, doing your abcs slowly can help you find the word it triggers a word image.

This is all wrote in a strange order but I feel this us the most important bit.... my diagnosis was not taken on well and people close around me knocked my confidence. And the diagnosis is permanent. Although I always had clothes on backwards, bruised scabby knees, no memory no organisation this that and the other. I always gave everything 100% and was totally happy. I got into trouble alot for the above but that was my normal. Now I'm emersced in the negative association and assumption about dyspraxia I hit more stumbles than I ever did before. So keep it relaxed I had anxieties confirmed not ignored after my diagnosis.

Try establish routine that's easy and consistent do the daily stuff is body motivated not mind.
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Re: I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by screengreen »

Hi Macey,
It is clear that others have had bad experiences of diagnosis, I personally do advocate diagnosis as dyspraxics often incorrectly diagnose themselves as thick or stupid,and as an adult these are the permanent diagnosis that have stuck in my head! That said you need to be sure that you treat the diagnosis in a positive way, not as a limitation and think about who you share it with and b very very clear that re sharing is not for them to do but needs to come back to you. Swimming if she is able to learn us excellent as this will promote sensory integration by giving lots of tactile, proprioceptive (body position), and vestibular(gravity) feedback. As well as being dyspraxic myself and struggling big time with lights etc. I have a daughter who is also dyspraxic. She has improved loads since swimming and I view this as much therapy as the sensory integration therapy I am currently getting for her. However, if you think you are going to go down the therapy route I would do so sooner than later... although its never too late, if I could afford it I would get therapy for myself. I do love the strategies that Ivolostmypurse suggests, we have labels too we also get bright colours attached to things to help ind them my work phone is in a bright pink case. In terms of school I had everything in my bag, we try to have 2 of everything 1 for school and 1 for home its just so much easier

Also if you have significant others who get on well with your daughter and don't judge her, my mum has managed to get my dd to tidy her bookshelf and turn out books whereas it was not going to happen fir me, and I did not want to be a constant nag, there are more important things in life than being tidy :-)

You and your daughter will be the only ones who can decide if diagnosis right for you as you can see from this discussion there are pros and cons both ways ....good luck
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Re: I need advice on how to deal with a dispraxic child.

Post by JamesAnthony91 »

See another doctor, he seems to be kind of ignorant in all honesty. She probably has Dyspraxia, I'd say get more than one opinion, definitely try to find a specialist known for dealing with Dyspraxia. If she has it, make sure you get her using a fountain pen. It's well known that ball point pens require more effort to use, while fountain pens offer a smoother writing experience. It'll be a lot easier on her, I honestly wish someone thought about teaching me penmanship with a fountain pen when I was a kid, but, most people in my life have been incompetent dolts. Make sure she's treated as normally as possible, and beyond getting her to use a fountain pen, one step better is home schooling, the celebrity Daniel Radcliffe(Harry Potter) mentioned that one on one tuition was a better option for him than being stuck in public school. That, and, maybe a laptop would be even better than a fountain pen, I mean beyond it being better for someone with fine motor skill problems, it's the future for students in the developed world, to do their work on electronics. That, and most jobs require computer skills...not handwriting. I've noticed a lot of people with Dyspraxia are good at coding(programming) for whatever reason, that's one of the few jobs that a human will still be required to do in 20 years. I recommend you get her started on sites like CodeAcademy when she's at least 7 or 8, she'll learn skills that will have her set for life, she could start freelancing by 16, making websites for people or whatever. HTML, JavaScript, CSS and PHP are easy to learn, but I recommend she starts on HTML&CSS before JavaScript and PHP. Learning C++, Python and ProLog couldn't hurt either. With the right start in life, your child can do amazing things, putting the positives of Dyspraxia to use :D
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