Last year Prof. Sara Rosenblum of the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Haifa performed a study on 40 children to determine if there is a way to scientifically diagnose Dyspraxia from objective measurements of handwriting. Using a special electronic pen and pad, the students were asked to perform three different handwriting tasks. The results were promising in showing that those students with Dyspraxia took three times longer writing each letter, held the pen in the air between letters longer, and pressed down harder than the control group.
Unlike various illnesses or trauma, says Prof. Rosenblum, this disorder is expressed in the inability to control the process of carrying out a particular motor task, consolidate it in memory and repeat the same task automatically. “Simple tasks, such as closing buttons, tying laces, writing or riding a bicycle, which for healthy people become automatic, are difficult to carry out for people with DCD.
Frequently described as “clumsy” or “awkward” by their parents and teachers, children with DCD have difficulty mastering simple motor activities, such as tying shoes or going down stairs, and are unable to perform age-appropriate academic and self-care tasks. Some children may experience difficulties in a variety of areas while others may have problems only with specific activities. The condition does not go away with maturity, but continues into adulthood.
If you think your child may have Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder, download this flyer from CanChild and bring it with you to your next well child visit with your pediatrician.
There are strategies to cope with Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder. Education is key. Adaptive tools and practices help each child to achieve and feel a sense of accomplishment. Download this flyer(Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: At home, at school, and in the community) for a more comprehensive list of strategies and definitions.
The occupational therapist can provide assessment and therapy for children suffering from Dyspraxia. Also there may be other conditions (co-morbid) such as Sensory Processing Disorder, or Autism which will also need to be assessed and treated. The OT can also educate school personnel and parents for accommodating children with DCD or Dyspraxia.
We now know from research evidence that the child’s underlying motor impairment does not change regardless of the type of treatment used. However, we also know that the child can learn to do what they need to do to be successful and participate more fully. Education is a very powerful intervention tool: helping the child and those around him to understand why he struggles with certain activities can make a big difference. Learning or cognitive approaches have been shown to be effective in helping children to learn to do specific activities and then generalize that learning across tasks and situations. Accommodations, adapted equipment and environmental modifications at home and school are essential. Empowering parents so they can continue to advocate effectively for their child, maximize his/her strengths and steer them towards activities where they can be successful can help to reduce the risk of secondary emotional and physical health consequences.
- skillsforaction.com Developmental coordination disorder and dyspraxia
- CanChild Centre for Childhood disability and research
- They’re Bright but Can’t Write: Developmental Coordination Disorder in school aged children(pdf)
- Dyspraxia: Could your child’s clumsiness be something more serious?