Your child has been diagnosed with dyspraxia or DCD (developmental coordination disorder). Here we look at how to help.
Are you anxious about your child’s recent dyspraxia diagnosis? Here we look to provide practical tips and strategies to help
Your child has been diagnosed with dyspraxia or DCD (developmental coordination disorder). You’re relieved to have some insight into the reasons behind some of their difficulties with daily activities. These may include: physical play, team sports, drawing or handwriting, using tools like scissors, a toothbrush or cutlery. Children with motor coordination difficulties may also find tasks such as organising themselves, learning new motor skills and even social and emotional aspects challenging.
You’re finding support, but it feels somewhat overwhelming and you’d like more practical advice on ways to assist your child at home and with learning.
If this resonates with you, then you’ve come to the right place.
At Bright Heart Education, our tutors work with students who present with a wide variety of special educational needs and motor co-ordination difficulties are common. Taking a heart-based approach means that we strive to truly nurture and support the youngsters we are entrusted to aid with learning, but this also extends to you, their parents.
1. Make adjustments at home to encourage greater independence and participation (e.g. elasticated shoes, trousers, easier fastenings on clothes, strategies for organisation and time management).
2. Provide opportunities for regular practice of activities and exercises by involving your child in everyday activities such as cooking (mixing, spreading), household chores (folding clothes, putting away cutlery, mopping the floor) and simple games (catching a ball, hop scotch).
3. As your child practices and improves, gradually increase the demands of the task e.g. catching a smaller ball, cutting around more complex shapes.
4. Let your child choose activities that they particularly enjoy or wish to try.
5. Praise your child for effort, as well as achievement.
6. Celebrate successes and attribute them to your child’s hard work and effort.
7. Try to make sure your child practices meaningful, ‘functional’ tasks that s/he will come across in everyday life e.g. decorating biscuits with icing rather than meaningless finger exercises.
8. Use your child’s interests as a focus for motivation e.g. cutting out newspaper pictures of their favourite sport.
9. Encourage practice at every opportunity. ‘Little and often’ is best for learning – ten minutes every day rather than one long session each week.
10. Try to ensure that your child practices movement skills in a variety of different ways so that they can generalise to new situations e.g. different activities for ball skills: throwing and catching with different size balls of different weights, with the child in different positions.
11. Break down tasks into smaller units to be learned; make sure that your child knows what they are working towards and what the end goal looks like e.g. the different components in learning to tie a shoelace.
12. Support your child when they are learning a task e.g. hold their coat as they do up the zip but gradually reduce this support as they become more confident and start to succeed on their own.
13. Encourage the use of ‘thinking skills’ (cognitive strategies) such as goal setting, self-monitoring, problem-solving activities e.g. ask your child to say what aspect of the task they need to focus on to be successful (throw the ball higher/harder to get it in the net). What might health and educational professionals offer?
14. Levels of intervention from health and educational professionals will be determined by the specific needs of your child and the impact this has on his/her everyday activities at home, school and in play.
15. For intervention planning, individual goals should be agreed in consultation with you, your child and relevant professionals.
16. The type of intervention will be informed by the individual needs of your child, agreed goals and the research evidence. Intervention may include school based activities and/or parent/teacher information sessions, Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy in a group or individual setting.
We’d love to hear which of these if any, have worked for you and what other strategies have you implemented at home that have made a difference to your child and/or family with coping with dyspraxia or DCD?
From Movement Matters www.movementmatters.org.uk the UK umbrella organisation representing the major national groups concerned with children and adults with coordination difficulties, a condition called Developmental Coordination Disorder (or DCD) and sometimes referred to as ‘dyspraxia’.
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