Top 20 things every dyspraxic should know about…
We hope you enjoy these tips and that you find at least a few good ideas to use.
1. Schoolvision assessment. Is there a cure for Dyspraxia? Sadly, no one truly knows what causes Dyspraxia but personal experience and research emerging from schoolvision points to the fact that undetected visual issues may lead to dyspraxia, making dyspraxia a symptom, not a cause. I personally believe that the brain and sensory system are impressioned largely from the start by the quality of our eyesight and the effectiveness of all our senses. If your child is affected with any kind of visual difficulties I believe the brain will start to adapt, to compensate, and that is why the brains of dyslexic, dyspraxic and ADHD children work so differently. 80% of what we learn is visual, so it stands to reason that if something is wrong with the visual system that our children will find it more difficult to learn and will be forced to learn in different ways. I have had my childs’ eyes tested, no problems there…. that’s what we thought too… Infact, Oliver had an NHS eye test telling us he had 20/20 vision, perfect! The occupational therapists said his eye tracking looked fine. How wrong they were…
I was discussing my son’s dyspraxia and other diagnosis with an optometry friend of mine, that was when she recommended to me the man that would change Oli’s future forever. He is here in the UK and probably offers the cheapest and easiest step forward your child will ever make against dyspraxia, ADHD and dyslexia. She recommended to me a man named Geraint Griffiths, an optometrist who understands the senses. He has introduced new comprehensive eye tests and eyeglasses treatment that is changing the lives of dyslexics, dyspraxics and children with ADHD (even some with Aspergers).
I spoke with Geraint over the phone and asked if he thought he might be able to help my son. ‘Come over and we’ll take a look’, he said. We did, Oliver had the early stages of amblyopia in one eye, very poor depth perception, could not hold focus on words or faces without slipping from the gaze, needed prisms, reading glasses and distance glasses. He stated that his spelling was poor because he couldn’t hold the beginning and the end of the word together visually to develop a visual memory of the word. He was reversing letters and numbers because his eyes were swapping the focusing responsibility over to each other and so he was literally seeing them going both ways. The reason he moved around in such an ungainly way and was rubbing against walls was because he didn’t know when his feet were going to hit the ground (poor depth perception) and couldn’t judge accurately how wide the corridor was. He had some very concerning visual issues. A huge frustration for Geraint was that the NHS eye test is not thorough enough and misses critical elements of our children’s visual system, even consultants are missing the details that contribute to dyslexia and dyspraxia. Then Geraint made a very big statement: ‘I think everything Oliver is diagnosed with (ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Auditory processing disorder, dyspraxia, reading and writing problems, receptive and expressive language problems) is due to his visual difficulties and that in time, wearing the glasses, it will all start to go away’. Now I don’t like to doubt nice people, but that was a statement as big as Mount Everest! I prayed it was true, but only 50% believed it myself at the time. It turned out my son couldn’t even read the first line of letters presented to him, he had to read from a larger print scale. Geraint also measures reading speed and has amassed enough data from his patients and research works to have established ‘norm’ criteria. On our first visit Oli was not really able to say what he saw or how he saw things but from the moment he wore his first pair of glasses I never had to remind him to wear them again. His reading speed increased immediately, his world slowly started to improve, his hearing improved, within 12 months he no longer had auditory processing disorder, he was calmer.
He started to look you in the eye, he was able to read for longer, soon after this the joy of childhood began to emerge, he was starting to use his body to jump on and off things, after 2 years of working with Geraint we were able to gradually take Oliver off of Ritalin, his ADHD diagnosis was adjusted to ADD. He was starting to read social signals. A little over 18 months ago Geraint said, ‘this next pair of glasses will really change Oliver’s life, this will get the depth perception just right’, and within 3 months Oliver started to ride a bike (alongside specific OT exercises), he was powering his own swing and jumping from it, he was beginning to show the kind of happiness that had just never been there before. His memory slowly began to improve, reading and spelling was vastly improved, all his teachers were commenting on the change. Oliver started saying words like ‘mum, the clouds are 3d, the rugby ball looks so different now, did you know before I wore glasses the letter W was just like 5 dots?’ Every statement made me cry with sadness for him, and joy that we were on the right path. And so here we are, aged 10, the dyspraxia hasn’t totally gone but some of the heaviest chains have been lifted. Ollie has just passed his secondary school entrance exams. The brain is still maliable at this young age and Oli continues to show signs of improvement every week and month. You can never take your child too soon, if you suspect that there is something wrong they can test your child from the youngest age. Geraint has trained schoolvision practitioners all around the country, so you shouldn’t have to travel too far. I sincerely believe it will be the best £80 you can invest in your child’s life.
Isn’t it interesting that depth perception is one of the common traits of dyspraxia and yet so many dyspraxics are told they don’t need glasses?
Was it just our particular set of symptoms that Geraint was able to remedy? I did wonder this until I started recommending friends to his practise, friends whose children were struggling with reading and writing, and every single one reported back what a difference it was making.
I contacted a friend of a friend to support a parent of a young dyspraxic child with ADHD who was on the verge of being excluded from school. A single parent who could scarce afford it and here I was sticking my neck out, urging her to spend £80. I did worry, but my experiences had convinced me that if her son was dyspraxic, Geraint could help and sure enough, within 6 months her little boy no longer met the criteria for ADHD, was calmer and making improvements all the time, and most importantly, was able to stay in his school. This child had a 20/20 perfect NHS eye test result too, and yet he, like Oliver, could not read the first line of letters presented to him. It is frustrating, we could knock the NHS but let’s get on with helping our kids, for now at least we can enjoy the fact that there is a great solution in Geraint, and Schoolvision.
I feel an enormous sense of relief in finally getting this information on the internet, no child with dyspraxia or dyslexia or ADHD should pass by without seeing a Schoolvision practitioner. Please let me know how you get on with your eye assessment and progress, I’d like to compile enough evidence to pressurise the government and the world of optometry to look again at the way it tests our children’s eyes.
I cannot be held responsible if nothing is detected in your child’s eyes, I can only pass on my experiences and recommendations. I hasten to add though, that Geraint has been able to help improve the lives of every child I have personally recommended to go and visit him. Good luck and pleeeeease feed back on your news so we can share it with everyone else (maintaining your child’s confidentiality, of course).
I recently re-visited Dr Amanda Kirby’s Book: Dyspraxia Developmental Co-ordination Disorder, an excerpt from the book states, ‘If you want to experience what it feels like being a dyspraxic: Take a pair of binoculars and reverse them round the ‘wrong’ way. Now try to walk round objects in your home or at school. What does that feel like? Do you feel confident about what you are doing? Now try to walk up and down the stairs and compare the difference. This uncertainty about their surroundings is something these children have to face all the time.’ Mmmm, a visual example – I feel strongly that there is definitely something in this.
I do feel that our toddlers should have their eyes checked by an eye professional at this young age, not a health visitor who has little training in this field. I am not annoyed with my occupational therapist, even most optometrists are not able to see what school vision practitioners are trained to see, their training is really comprehensive. It is an eye care professionals’ role currently being carried out in the critical early years by an all-round health visitor in the NHS service. Is it any wonder why there is a growing boom in the number of dyspraxic children? Our country is missing the vital link – we need to put back quality eye testing and incorporate the new Schoolvision eye test. I’ll step off my soapbox now…
Please see also our article on visual stress – there’s a checklist there which might help you decide wether to investigate vision further…
2. Don’t wait, trust your instincts. The earlier you begin to work on the various elements of dyspraxia the better. The brain is far more open to change in the younger years. Oliver’s first school said, ‘oh, leave it, a lot of children grow out of these things by the time they get to year 5 or 6’. No! Don’t listen, get some answers as soon as you sense something is not right in their development. You don’t ‘grow out’ of Dyspraxia. Certainly the damage to their self esteem and the raised anxiety whilst you wait those precious two or three years could be avoided. Find a good OT if the NHS is letting you down, even if you can only afford to see them every 3 months. Your own mini gym at home, IKEA are a brilliant source of affordable equipment. Once a week OT doesn’t work well, it has to be part of a regular routine, not overwhelming, a little bit everyday, then as you move forward you can change what you do until you look back many years later and see how far you have come. If you slip for a few weeks, it’s okay, just get back onto it when you both have the energy to go again. Get a detailed diagnosis.
3. Yoropen – wow, what a difference… The importance of encouraging the tripod grip at the earliest opportunity (not too early though) and teaching them how to position the paper. Wish I’d done this sooner.
Teachers don’t always have the time to analyse every child to see if they are lifting their hands, arching their wrists, crossing their thumbs over a vice-like grip etc. Read our blogs about handwriting, pencil grips and best pencil to learn to write with. Positioning their paper has a big impact on handwriting too. Since writing this article the Yoropen has, over time, strengthened the muscles in my son’s hands so that he can now use other pens without arching his wrist, it has served as an excellent training tool to help my son write correctly with or without a Yoropen now.
4. Lois Addy books – borrow a copy from your local library or purchase it from this website. You can find a lot of exercises to do with your child in here if you can’t stretch to an OT.
Some of our favourite books:
Please click on the image of the book to learn more about the title and to be taken to our web shop.
5. Visit the Dyspraxia Foundation website – full of really helpful advice, support groups, signposts and downloads for you to give to your school teachers. Maybe give them a little donation too, they are the only true fighting force for dyspraxia in the UK.
6. If you can visit a few schools, children with Dyspraxia thrive in an organised classroom with small class sizes, an understanding school, head and year teacher can make the world of difference. Often parents have to have their child’s diagnosis confirmed to obtain the school of their choice, so again, the earlier you can get a diagnosis the better. I really like the advice and support that ‘Parent Partnership’ offers in helping you to get things right in school, now called the IASS network.
7. Messy, slow eater: From personal experience and hearing from many parents, this is something common to kids and adults with Dyspraxia. Eating is a massive exercise in coordination and motor planning and can be a tiring and frustrating activity for Dyspraxics. Usually at the end of an exhausting school day all a Dyspraxic child wants to do is eat and relax whilst they do so, often diving in with their fingers to achieve the result. Should it be addressed? You can try Caring cutlery, many Dyspraxics like Sporks so they can use a single piece of cutlery as a spoon, fork and knife all in one. I found a great benefit in putting a piece of Dycem sheet under the plate or bowl to stop it slipping around. Working on fine motor, shoulder and posture skills will help, many children and adults use the Gymnic movin sit cushion to achieve a better posture at the dining table, they must be seated at the correct height to the table. Make sure their feet are flat on the ground too, use a box or phone directory to achieve this. It’s one less thing for them to control, if they are able to balance correctly at the table they can now concentrate on manipulating their cutlery and their food. Many Dyspraxics find chewing food tiring (often why they are slow to eat), we experienced ‘mouth food packing’ in order to move food from the front of the mouth to the back. If you are concerned about they way your child eats speak to your GP for advice and referral. I would exercise extreme caution in addressing the way your child eats – you don’t want to put them off eating altogether. When they begin to feel embarrassed about the way that they eat in front of their peers they will want to do something about it and be more cooperative with recommended exercises. I would use Playdoh and cutlery play away from the family dining situation, involve them in food preparation cutting and slicing and mixing. You could look up Kay Toomey’s food school – many UK Occupational therapists are offering this programme now to help children overcome their picky eating often associated with sensory processing disorder, they look closely at the way your child eats their food once it is in their mouth too.
8. Wii fit is fantastic for dyspraxics once you can get them on it. Avoidance was evident for quite a while with Oli. Used regularly gave big gains. But if they are not ready, don’t push it. We found Oli participated in the wii best when we all did it as a family – just remember those of you who are competitive – don’t be too good – the best stimulus for our kids is to let them beat us – you’ll see their chest rise with pride. They do need to know how to lose as well, but not all the time…
8. Slow to get dressed and ready – tools that make a difference
9. Trouble telling the time – have you got a trampoline? Grab your chalks and turn it into a clock; chalk on the numbers around the inner edge so that your child can physically jump on them – have them jump clockwise around the clock, anti-clockwise; make a game of going in the right direction around the clock according to the words you use. You be the short hand and your child be the long hand, shout 6 o’clock and see who can be in the right place on the trampoline first. Have your child say a time and you both jump to it. I would stand at the side and have Oli jump to the o’clock that I shouted. Active learning is really effective. Shout ’20 to’ where will the minute hand be and see him scrabble for the 8. Even when they are bouncing on the trampoline without you coaching the time, they are aware of the clock face. Encourage your child to take leadership in making up the clock games. Let them see clock bouncing as a reward.
Make sure the clocks around your child are analogue, not digital. Always have one in the bedroom, one where they eat and one where they play. Form a strong routine and associate clock time faces with it. I would tell Oli that he had half an hour to eat his breakfast starting at 7 o’clock and finishing at half past 7. He could have 30 minutes/half an hour to play and I would point to where the long hand would be when his play stopped.
I was very surprised how much time I had to spend explaining night and day, morning, midday and evening, days of the week, months and years before I could get into the nitty gritty of teaching telling the time.
Your child may have no sense of time at all. Use 1 minute sandtimers and count how many times you can throw a ball to each other. Then use a 5 minute sandtimer and count how many times you can throw the ball. Write it down. Discuss the difference. Explain how many 5 minutes there are in an hour. Do this with many activities using the sandtimers each time. Then start to ask, how long do you think it would take me to do…. If they are wildly out do the activity and let them time you. Praise any answer in the beginning.
It’s only when you have a child with learning difficulties that you realise just how complicated telling the time really is. We have numbers running 1 through to 12 but the gap between each number is 5 minutes – what sense does that make? We have quarters and halves but not wholes. We run with a metric system with hundreds but a timing system that counts in 60’s. It’s worth explaining this craziness to your child. Have a laugh about it and it will sink in faster for them. Time was by far the hardest shell to crack, just keep going, we finally cracked it aged 8 almost 9. Now it’s one of his strong points in maths.
Learning To and Past…
We drew a picture of a clock and numbered it, then drew a line straight down the centre of the clock and on the right we drew superman flying RIGHT PAST the statue of liberty (20 past 8 etc.). On the left side of the clock we drew spider man climbing up TO the top of the tower (10 to 9 etc). Penny dropped… he never forgot which was past and which was to after we drew this. You could do the same with your child’s super heroes.
Great fact to help kids understand how to read clocks: How do you tell the difference between the hands on the clock, the hour hand and the minute hand? The word hour is shorter (only 4 letters) and the word minute is longer (6 letters). The hour hand is therefore the shorter hand. Simple but very helpful.
10. Trouble with times tables and maths in general
Numicon is FANTASTIC – every school should teach with it.
11. Apraxia / DVD / Verbal dyspraxia. Toys and games to address oral dyspraxia issues. We will report on our interview with a speech language therapist who has specialised in dyspraxia. Use mirrors.
12. Motor planning
13. Memory difficulties
14. Teach differently… Reinforce regularly… have patience – expect the cup of water to get knocked over…. read and make yourself a tower of knowledge on dyspraxia…. muscle memory improves dyspraxia …daily… don’t beat yourself up if you stop for a while, just get back to it when you can….Draw pictures in bold black pen, use colours. Always let them succeed
14. Seating position – significant for eating and handwriting. Strong core muscles are vital for maintaining good posture, feet flat on the ground and table at the correct height, you may need to slide a phone directory under their feet to achieve this but it makes a big difference. Use a writing slope from an early age, not only to aid posture but to improve their field of vision by placing the paper at the correct angle to their eyes. Add a seating wedge to seat them at a slighted tilted raised angle to their desk or table. If their paper slips all over the place or their bowl or plate slips buy a square of Dycem, it’s really versatile, you can use it anywhere, handy for opening water bottles if you keep a piece in the lunch bag.
15. Low tone
16. Handwriting difficulties
Handwriting difficulties and low muscle tone? That’s Oliver. It does reduce the effectiveness of the Lois Addi writing programmes as he doesn’t retain the strength in his shoulders, tummy and arm without repeatedly doing the exercises. The kinaesthetic aspect was very beneficial though. If your child has low muscle tone they may tend to write using their wrist (arching it), they will generally tire very quickly from writing with all the effort. What Oliver’s OT noticed was that the effort to write neatly was so great he would hold his breath for the whole sentence he was writing, tiring himself out. Oliver couldn’t develop a flow to his handwriting no matter what we tried. Concentration on the skill and OT programmes improved the situation short term but nothing lasted until we tried a Yoropen. Wow – life changing – a shock – Oliver went from writing 1/4 page and tiring to a page and a half, you couldn’t stop him, in his recent exam he asked for extra paper – the effect this pen had on Oliver’s ability to write was completely gobsmacking . The design of the pen is such that Oliver did not have to concentrate on keeping his fingers in the right place, it added clear view to his writing too. What we have found out from OT is that Oliver heavily relies on his vision for almost everything, so now, being able to see clearly the line he was writing on and exactly what he was writing was transforming. The arched wrist disappeared the moment he held the pencil as he was no longer trying to compensate for a poor grip. His teachers couldn’t believe the difference it made and ordered the pencil for their SEN kids to try. Sadly it hasn’t cured all the spatial issues which we will keep focused on, and some of the letters are varied in size but for now, we are basking in handwriting that is half the size and a fluency never dreamt of – overnight. They are good for right and left handers as the grip can be twisted around to suit the owner perfectly. This pen was what has prompted the whole website, Oliver wanted to let every dyspraxic child know about them, and Geraint from schoolvision (his two significant life-changers.)
How to get our kids colouring in more often: Use brush head felt tips to cover larger areas with less effort, unfortunately none exist with grips at the moment but you can add your own grip. Dad came up with a good idea yesterday after taking a photo of Ollie in his Book Week fancy dress – he turned it into a black and white image that could be coloured in. You could do this with your childs’ favourite teddy, car or toy and encourage them to come up with new designs. Superhero colouring books went down slightly better than a lead balloon but there was no rushing to the table.
In younger years Oliver loved drawing on the windows – (I found Oliver liked to do the opposite of what I wanted him to do quite a lot – sometimes I said very animated (this always worked) ‘Oh no, no, no, who’s been drawing all over my nice clean windows?’ Which would raise a giggle and encourage him to do it some more. It’s great being a window too as it keeps that wrist flat and strengthens the shoulders too.
Another idea is to go outside and have them on the inside drawing around your body outline and giving you silly faces – brilliant – Ollie never did realise my cunning plan was to get that crayon in his hand! Cleaning it off was something I learned on a trip to the STAR centre in America – having them do the wiping off is BRILLIANT exercise for the shoulders and coordination. Mmmm, didn’t always get full participation, but occasional or a couple of swipes was good therapy!
Oliver had a draw the path game where the car would follow the path (find it and picture) and also the water mats made by crayola were great to leave out on the floor for mess free play with a pen in their hand. Laying out rolls of wallpaper and drawing race tracks, garages and petrol stations for toy cars.
Variety – so important especially if your little one has attention difficulties too. Oliver was pretty bad, I had to change it up regularly. I must have looked like I had lost my marbles. I literally had plastic boxes labelled drawing, colours, numbers etc. with loads of different stuff in each box to try and encourage him.
Go outside, we had a border that I covered over with slate chippings, Ollie was fascinated with these when I showed him he could write with them and write on them. For around 2 years he would bring me slates from the garden with kisses on them, I have kept one (show piccy).
Go mad with chalk outside, draw hopskotch (Ollie avoided this game like the plague! Too much planning and coordination there, a jump far too high I later realised after reading more about Dyspraxia). Draw stepping stones to jump to (2 in 1 drawing and coordination – always good!) I soon learned not to be precious about my home and garden, everything washes…
Klutz rubbing books, gold scratch off books – they do a space one which Oliver tolerated well (piccy).
The love of comics; this year Oliver has exploded with the love of drawing tiny cartoons, making his own little books and setting up a comic making business in the playground (quite the entrepreneur I think – trading them for football cards). It came and it passed but he loved it for the moment and it got a pen in his hand. Try doing simple flicker books together.
Mazes – Cutting Books
16a. Think small steps and then think smaller still. This was the hardest hard for me, I am the type of person who wants to bulldoze from A-Z as fast as possible, perfectly, but fast. I never realised that eating was such a massive coordination of senses and that each one must be thought through and accomplished in tiny stages in order to achieve correct eating and consumption of a wide range of food choices. We were very fortunate to go through Kay Toomeys’ food programme. After 5 weeks we didn’t achieve any new foods being eaten but we did know the steps to achieving it. Oliver had missed lots of developmental stages orally and sensorily that we would have to revisit and build the pathways. Whether it’s food or trying to achieve a new body exercise think small steps and smaller still. Poor Oliver, this was not my strong suit but I did learn. Make sure the child feels in charge, has an escape route if it’s too much, and try to make it attainable and rewarding. Mmmm, still not easy! Learn to recognise the ‘too much mum’ signs – I’ll cover this soon in a blog.
16a. Build pathways. Building pathways is something you will hear a lot about from me. I definitely think this is the way to go with our kids. They don’t seem to have enough motorways in their bodies for the senses to travel quickly and in Oliver’s case, not all the senses could travel at the same time. If he was trying to eat at school that was the sense he could use – coordination, sight, smell and taste, he couldn’t hear anything that was being said; no lane free on the motorway. Some of the motorways take wrong routes too, get mixed up and lost. This is the way I explained it to Oliver and he could understand this from a very young age. (He was often unable to tell if he wanted the toilet or whether he was hungry – the routes got confused – the STAR Centre call this interoception (internal senses of the body) – a new sense to add to the list of senses. We then had a plan to build more motorways, upgrade our B roads to motorways, make roads wider and raise the speed limits. Some of the roads have fog on them and distractors that need to be cleared or ignored so they stay on the right road. You can achieve this by repeatedly doing small things, slowly adjusting them and eventually the network opens up. Our biggest road builder was addressing the eyesight, once that major route was improved, all the others started to flow better. I hope this makes sense…I use this a lot when explaining sensory processing disorder (and dyspraxia) to any one who’s interested!
18. Social concerns
19. Spatial awareness and sport. The best advice I ever received was from Oliver’s sports teacher who has sadly just moved to another school – buy a Subbuteo set. The teacher told me what position Oliver was going to play and the formation he chose for the team. Using the Subbuteo figures I was able to explain where he should stand and where he should and should not, kick the ball. Fantastic – he got it and was rewarded with a house point shortly afterwards for encouraging his teammates on the back row to stay in their positions! Who’d have thought it… Dad and Ollie also had a few good games of Subbuteo before the cheating arguments started… heehee!
The Dyspraxia Foundation have an excellent download to give to your sports teachers to help them understand how to teach a dyspraxic child. (Link)
20. Join a support group, it’ll stop you and your friends from going crazy. Not everyone wants to talk about your child’s dyspraxia, maybe not even you, but it may become a large part of your life for a while, I really needed to talk about it, it became such a big part of my life. At the groups you can feel free to listen and share your best experiences or just go for some social ‘you’ time. If you live in the Rutland area and would like to join a group please let me know, I’m drumming up interest as there isn’t anything for us here at the moment that I am aware of. (Add Links)
21. Teenage years study, exam and social tips and learning to drive.
22. Using a downloadable free metronome (interactive metronome on the cheap!) to get the brain coping with two things at once, the beat and the activity to the beat. Start off really easy otherwise they’ll never want to do it again. Take a standard sheet of paper and on it draw arrows boldly, some pointing forward, backward, left, right: in random order, but making sure the pattern is sensible that your child doesn’t end up in the wall! Place this on the wall or window in front of them so they can see it clearly whilst they move. For each metronome beat your child will move their body in the direction of the arrow. Draw approx. 6 rows of 6 arrows. Start off seeing if they can do three arrows to the beat, then a row, then 3 rows, then the whole page. If you would like a copy of the arrows page we used please send me a comment and I’ll email it to you. Is it a bit too hard? You could start by just clapping to the beat of the metronome on a slow beat. Too easy? Quicken the beat. Problems crossing the midline? Sitting down practise right hand to left shoulder, right hand to left knee, left hand to right shoulder, left hand to right knee – mirror to the beat. You can use your imagination to create the perfect ‘beat’ exercise to suit your child’s individual needs.
23. Frustration and bad behaviour. 123 magic, behaviour reward charts. Teaching the child to understand their behaviour triggers. Your understanding of what triggers their behaviours – is it bad behaviour or an uncontrollable reaction to something in their environment? Noise, sound, smell, taste, touch. Great books to help improve childrens’ understanding. Check their vision.
23a. Giving your child permission to be naughty. What?!!! It’s no typo believe me, and it really works wonders and reduces stress for everyone. Oliver had quite a few pervasive habits that would drive me up the wall. I was advised by a complete stranger in the park to say ‘you can do that one more time and then we’re going to go play with the sand…or set the table etc.’ It prevents you from being the fun-stopper every time and diverts attention to the next activity – moving on smoothly. Try it – it’s great! Great for every kid especially one with ADHD. It also reminds them of their behaviour without knocking them. Whilst I am on this subject – give your children advanced notice of what’s going to happen next – I think most people know this so I apologise, but for those who don’t I want to share this with you. If your partner or close friend burst into your room right now and ask you to put your shoes on how would you feel? Rushed, annoyed, wondering what’s going on, wanting to finish what you were doing, completely disrupted. That’s what we do to our kids sometimes and they hate it, especially those with ADHD. I always give a 10 minute notice of what’s going to happen next. In the early days I would reach for a dry wipe board and write down with Oliver what we were going to do that day – really good tip for the summer holidays. Ollie would draw the pictures next to the words which helped him to remember. As he got older we added times to it. Often we never achieved everything we wrote down but it did make the day work more smoothly, definitely helping with transitions. It was a good negotiation tool as he got older too, he would say something he would want on it and I would add something that needed to be on it that perhaps he wouldn’t be so keen on, and so it would continue until the day was planned with no upsets.
24. Interesting Davis solutions bold print, hand holding clay supporting visual systems and using other senses for learning.
25. If you don’t teach it, they probably won’t learn it. It wasn’t until I said to a friend at the park, “I can’t believe you have to teach them absolutely everything, I thought they would pick stuff up naturally.” My friend responded, “they do…” That’s when my heart sank, we chatted more and then I realised my child was a very different learner. He didn’t learn from watching other children at all, I had to teach him how to get up the playground ladder, how to position his hands and feet, and not just the once, over and over again, he wanted to do these things, he just didn’t know how, I had to teach him how to cross the playground bridge, how to position himself to get down the slide… this involves motor planning and body awareness.
26. Plan daily tummy time – no matter what the age. I am pleased to see that there is now a really strong focus in early years to put your child on their tummy. So many dyspraxic children never crawled (Oli included). He hated being put on his tummy, he couldn’t hold his weight on his arms or coordinate the crawling pattern. He didn’t bum shuffle, just went straight to walking with extremely straight legs. Not crawling can be a red flag for dyspraxia. If you imagine, crawling is a very complex activity requiring a lot of motor planning, coordination and strength. It actually provides a strong base for preparing your child for writing as it strengthens their shoulder, arms, wrists and hands too. No matter what your child’s age, it’s worth seeing if this is difficult for them and plan some tummy activities. Put the chalkboard on the floor or do some colouring whilst lying on the tummy. Our OT gave us a fun game to do: take two cordial bottles, cut the wide bottoms off so that you can then slot them inside one another with the bottle opening faced outwards. Get some strong tape and bind the bottles together. Make one for you and one for your child. Now both lie face down opposite each other on your tummy and push a soft ball back and forth using the bottle as the pusher. We would count and try and go for the record of how many times we could keep the ball going before it went out of reach. Keep feet behind and legs flat outstretched behind otherwise you may cause lower back damage (I’ll put some more of these in the article soon).
Lego, origami, meccano toys to develop hand eye coordination. Fine and gross motor skill toys. Good toy websites. Some will meet with resistance, a fence too high, but they are good for hand eye coordination and…………
Oliver and I will be putting more detail onto this page as soon as we can, subscribe to us so that you can receive the link when we complete it.
Come and meet us!
We are exhibiting at the SEN Jigsaw conference and will be demonstrating our range of handwriting products including Crayon Rocks® and the WriteRight® and WriteLeft® pencil grip and trainers alongside many other Dyspraxia tools and aids.
Copyright. Author: Lisa Bochenek, Fantastic Dyspraxic. 2018.