Top 20 things every dyspraxic should know about…

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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).

Oli having fun at a Schoolvision assessment. Schoolvision has transformed Oli's life, their research is continually evidencing that undetected visual issues are the cause of Dyspraxia and Dyslexia.
Oli having fun at a Schoolvision assessment. Schoolvision has transformed Oli’s life, their research is continually evidencing that undetected visual issues are the cause of Dyspraxia and Dyslexia.

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.

Oli's Schoolvision reading speed progess, he now enjoys reading...
Oli’s Schoolvision reading speed progress, he now enjoys reading…

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.

Transforming the lives of children and adults with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD.
Transforming the lives of children and adults with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD.

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…

Crossbow plain eye level reading rulers, text overlay for relief of visual stress and light sensitivity for faster reading speed
Tinted reading rulers for relief of visual stress and light sensitivity

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.

Yoropens are the most popular pen choice for children with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and fine motor skill difficulties.
Yoropens are the most popular pen choice for children with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and fine motor skill difficulties.

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.

Understanding Dyspraxia - A guide for parents and teachers
Understanding Dyspraxia – A guide for parents and teachers
Developmental Dyspraxia - Identification and intervention for parents and professionals
Developmental Dyspraxia – Identification and intervention for parents and professionals
Dyspraxia 5-14. Second Edition. Book by Christine Macintyre.
Dyspraxia 5-14
How to...understand and support children with dyspraxia. Book by Lois Addy
How to understand and support children with dyspraxia

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to increase the potential of students with DCD Dyspraxia in secondary school.
How to increase the potential of students with DCD Dyspraxia in secondary school.
Developmental Coordination Disorder Book By Morven F Ball
Developmental Coordination Disorder Book
Understanding developmental dyspraxia. Book by Madeleine Portwood.
Understanding dyspraxia
Caged in chaos. A dyspraxic guide to breaking free.
Caged in chaos. A dyspraxic guide to breaking free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Visit the Dyspraxia Foundation website – full of really helpful dyspraxiafoundationlogoadvice, 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. IASSlogoOften 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.

Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencils are really versatile. Use on windows, paper, even the sides of wellies! Strong colours, water soluble for blending colours with water. Ideal for encouraging pencil grip time.
Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencils are really versatile. Use on windows, paper, even the sides of wellies! Strong colours, water soluble for blending colours with water. Ideal for encouraging pencil grip time.

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!

17. Anxiety

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)

More on this….

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.

Copyright. Author: Lisa Bochenek, Fantastic Dyspraxic. 2017.

24 thoughts on “Top 20 things every dyspraxic should know about…”

  1. Thank you. Fantastic ideas. My 4 year old just got diagnosed as we endedup going private after getting nowhere fast. What a great list, and already ordered some window markers thanks to you!

    1. Thanks Hayley, I am so pleased you came across the article, you have done really well to identify and diagnose at such an early age. Good luck with everything, have a look at the other blogs too on handwriting as your 4 year old starts to move towards a tripod grip…also this one on best pencil – I wish I had started earlier on teaching the grip and paper positioning.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comments Deena, I hope a few things have helped… I’ve just updated point 22 and have emailed you the arrows sheet that I used. If anyone else reading this article would like the arrows sheet please send me a comment requesting it and I will email it by return.

  2. Thank you so much for a brilliant read. I found it very interesting. I will try and follow as much as I possibly can!

  3. My son has just been ‘diagnosed’ with dyspraxia and will be assessed for ADHD also, so this has been very useful and just a relief really, knowing that your site is here. Not just a shop but some one with a similar experience with some great advice. So many things now seem to make sense, and I will continue reading your site and blogs, and researching and trying these things to help him. Looking forward to trying out the pens and pencils!

  4. Hi great read just wondering did you have issues with concentration.I have a 7yr old able to manage tasks but if not supervised losses all concentration any tips thanks

    1. Hi – yes – concentration was a problem for Oli also. Mmmm – a few tips: I would discuss the concentration challenge with your child at a time when you are relaxed together. Have them identify it as a problem and invite them to provide you with solutions. I would use a reward chart for task concentration and start really easily – 10 minute task (or less if they are younger or really struggling) – use a sand timer or timer clock so they can see the time (it helps them to focus too). If they stay on task for that time they get a sticker reward. Do it 5 times for a lucky dip reward. They love the surprise element of a lucky dip (use lego packets etc.) Exercise before asking them to concentrate is really helpful, a hopper or exercise ball they can use inside or an indoor bouncer. Clear the space – sit them in a place where there are no toys/posters/visual distractions – this will help concentration and keep their thoughts centred. Gymnic movin’ sit cushion – has a sensory surface which helps children to concentrate and reduced fidgetting. Make sure where you sit them is ergonomically good – feet flat on the ground (use a book under their feet is necessary). Check their posture – again a movin’ sit cushion and writing slope might help if they are slumping and have poor core strength. Back to my passion – a proper school vision eye test – Oli was immediately calmer when the visual issues were addressed – can’t stress the importance of this eye test enough (NHS don’t test thoroughly at near distance, depth perception not checked) if keeping their eyes in the right position for working at a desk is difficult they will lift their head for relief and suddenly latch onto something else in their visual field and get distracted, following schoolvision, over time, we were able to remove Oli from Ritalin and he is now calm and much more focused. It’s interesting – I observed in Oli that he could stay without fidgetting on most tasks, but as soon as the pen and paper went in his hands the fidgetting/getting out of his seat really increased. It was a vision problem that now no longer exists. Observe the activities they are finding it hardest to focus on – if they are high demand visual tasks then that might give you a clue. Ask yourself, can they do what you have asked them to do actively? If it’s learning spellings can they make it from clay/play doh, can they jump around and shout the spelling order, can they write it on your back, can they draw it in flour in a baking tray? Observe the time of day you are asking for the tasks to be completed: mornings are always best, if it’s later in the day after school, then fatigue has likely set in, especially with our Dyspraxic kids who have to work so hard and concentrate that much more than others during a daily routine. I have a morning routine with Oli where we spend a quality 10 minutes every morning focused on something he finds challenging – it’s worth getting up that little bit earlier in the day for. Kids at this age can concentrate for a max of 20 minutes. I found Oli learns best in 10 minute ‘chunking’. He sets the timer, he works hard for 10 minutes then gets 5 minutes for an activity of his choosing, then he comes back for another 10 minutes of working. You can then extend this over time. This year we have not needed to do the chunking so much but he never works for longer than 30 minutes (Aged 10) without a break or activity. Some people mention food affects concentration (Oli has such a limited diet that I couldn’t experiment with this much). I was recommended eye-q Omega by Oli’s ADHD consultant and have been very impressed with the results particularly on his memory (not so sure about concentration affects). One mum I spoke to recently uses Teddies with her child who didn’t like to accept feedback directly from her, she would talk through her teddies and her daughter listened intently and talked back to the teddies – I loved this idea for younger children. After trying all these things, talk it over with your teacher and GP. Really hope this helps, if I can think of any more I’ll drop you a line… Kind regards, Lisa, Fantastic Dyspraxic.

  5. This is a really awesome post so thank you for this! I was just wondering what specific problems you had when it came to eating, and the co-ordination of the cutlery and what styles of cutlery or ways of holding it helped the most, Thank You.

    1. Hi Billy

      Thanks for your kind words about our post.

      Eating is a pretty wide topic that challenges many dyspraxics. The process of eating once food is placed in the mouth is very complex, as we came to realise, when we had our son evaluated. He was food-packing: pushing food into his mouth until it was full to get the food to the back of his mouth for swallowing. He was asked to do a raisin test – he had to eat a bunch of raisins and just before he swallowed, spit them on the plate – well, that gave us a huge shock – they were not chewed at all, just pushed to the back of the mouth and were to be swallowed whole like that. We discovered he wasn’t pushing food to the side of his mouth with his tongue which would allow the teeth to do their work in chewing, he found the process and physical effort of chewing very difficult hence he was limiting his diet to very soft things: bananas, bread, pasta etc. They gave us a few exercises to do to engage the tongue in the eating process but we really had to take eating down to some very basic steps and go over what had not come naturally to him as a tot. He still refuses tough meat dishes or anything really chewy because he finds it exhausting to eat it. Not every dyspraxic will experience this as some dyspraxics have only fine motor skill or gross motor skill problems, we had oral/verbal too – all three. Oliver never transitioned well from Purees to solid food.

      Dyspraxia often comes with other learning difficulties – Oli’s came with Sensory Processing Disorder. He had a very tricky mix of under and over sensitivity to smells, tastes and textures – he would often refuse even to touch certain foods or be in the same room as an orange – pretty extreme. I’m not going to mislead you – addressing eating is a long and hilly road. Oli we discovered, had poor judgement of what was hot and what was cold, still does, he used to complain that the stone cold slice of pizza was burning hot – we later learned that the puree was actually burning him in his throat if the pizza had a lot of tomato puree on it.

      Observe your child – it is interesting when we go into a restaurant – Oli will always pick to sit at a table where the chairs are not slippy – usually selecting the most upholstered comfiest looking chair in the restaurant. Being comfortable to eat is very important to a dyspraxic – often eating can be a tiring process, trying to eat whilst slipping around on a chair therefore becomes an even bigger challenge. We used to take a Gymnic movin’ sit cushion around with us when he was younger, then a piece of Dycem which stops all slipping and can fit easily and discretely into a handbag, we don’t any more, we have been ‘educated by Oli’ over the years to seek out the best chairs when we eat out. Observe your child 2. I will never forget the day we dared to take Oli to a restaurant to eat as a family, he howled the restaurant down, it was totally embarrassing, I had to ask the staff to move us as we were upsetting the other diners’ experience. We came to learn that Oliver cannot tolerate some restaurants because of the smell within them. Often Oli will go into a restaurant, hold his nose and ask to leave, now we do, we didn’t before, thinking he was just being a complete fuss pot. Hopefully sharing this knowledge might help a few parents facing the same situation.

      When children find the oral process of eating tiring and difficult to coordinate, we then add mastering cutlery to the mix at the same time. You’re probably already with me on this – overwhelmed. What we need to remember is that the important thing is for our children to eat and at no time must we put so much pressure on them that they no longer want to eat. I would suggest you practise cutlery and oral/eating skills away from the dinner table so that dining with the family remains a pleasant and positive experience no matter how much food gets splattered on them and the room – get some clear covers for the carpet underneath them and have a set of eating TShirts that won’t get ruined with food stains and then you can all relax.

      Seating position: Feet must be touching the floor so you may need to put some phone books under their feet. The chair must be supportive and not slippy. Use a sheet of Dycem under their bottoms or if they are slouching at the table then look at a Gymnic movin’ sit cushion which aids posture and also calms children with ADHD and Sensory challenges (Oli couldn’t sit still at the table so this helped to improve the situation). The chair height must be appropriate for the table height (The Gymnic cushions raises them up nicely). Once they are sitting comfortably: provide them with a wet face cloth so that if they are sensitive to touching food they can wipe it off straight away, have a little plate to the side so that if something offends them in the extreme they can remove it from their main plate and in some cases they may want to cover it over with their face cloth and pretend it’s not there. Dycem – wonderful stuff – pack it in your hand bag for slippery restaurant chairs, I like to advise parents to put a little piece of Dycem under their child’s plates/bowls to stop them slipping around the table – again, looking for ways all the time to reduce the effort they are putting in to eating.

      Cutlery.
      Dodl cutlery – I especially love their knife for learning to cut through food. Their cutlery encourages the pincer grip which will help develop the grip for handwriting in later years. It may seem like it’s too babyish for older Dyspraxics but, as we experienced, sometimes you have to go back quite a few stages to teach the skills our children didn’t pick up naturally in their early years. Just about to be launched on the UK market, we hope to stock this range shortly.
      Skill trainer witty eating spoon – excellent grip you can put onto any spoon to teach correct grip for using a spoon. For ages 2 – 7 years. For left and right handers. It’s shape is specially designed to permit only one possible finger position which extremely cushioned and comfortable for our sensitive kids.
      Cleverstix training chopsticks for kids – we are getting some great feedback on this product from dyspraxic children, OT’s and schools: For ages 3-10 (older for Dyspraxics). They train the correct grip, actually develop the hand writing grip, improve motor skills and make meal times more fun. A friend of mine bought a pair for her daughter and gave her a pencil to write with afterwards, she went straight for a tripod grip hold on the pencil! She is only young, 6 years old, but managed to use them from the get go.
      Junior Kura Care, good ergonomic design with ‘wells’ for fingers to rest correctly into, not too heavy. Downside is that it is a little chunky, the chunkiness could make it easier for your child to hold the cutlery though, like using a jumbo pencil for learning to write.
      Older children: Sporks (they are a spoon, fork and knife combined permitting you to carry out all the action with one hand, the well in the spork allows you to transfer food (especially peas) from plate to mouth without dropping it halfway along, I know a few teenage dyspraxics who keep these in their school bags for use in the school canteen.) and Adult Kura Care Cutlery – again, good ergonomically but as they get older, may be a little too visual and embarrassing to use in public, or take them into a cook shop and have them pick their own cutlery – they will tell you straight away what is best for them.
      With regular use of an ergonomic set of cutlery your child should begin to master the skills to enable them to transition to any type of cutlery. I would never dive in with new cutlery – grab the playdoh and really play with the cutlery away from the table, cook loads of toast and have him/her cut it up and feed it to you or themselves etc. Remember, it has to be on their terms – lay the range of cutlery out that you have for your child to decide which is easiest for them.
      Cutlery tips – you could use tippex on your cutlery to show your child where their first finger should be placed (Peter Pointer)

      Tip: Encourage your child to cut up their food right at the beginning of the meal before the tiredness sets in.

      We have tried most things and you know, sometimes Oli still comes home from a particularly exhausting day at school and dives into his meal with both hands – sometimes you just need to look away – our dyspraxic kids get enormously tired compared to their peers – a late night meal with a row over using their cutlery correctly might not result in a positive experience for anyone. It’s okay to have a little giggle to yourself when your child stabs a whole Yorkshire pudding and puts it into his mouth like a gigantic lollipop rather than go through the effort of cutting it!

      Handedness with cutlery: Oli is right handed but eats/uses his cutlery, like a left hander. Interestingly, in a recent survey, nearly 80% of left handers eat the right-handed way. Some schools are trying to ‘encourage’ children to eat the right-handed way, I have spoken to parents where this has caused anxiety and even stuttering and tics, as soon as they asked the school to let their children eat with their cutlery in their chosen hands the tics, stuttering and anxiety all went away. I would let your child decide which hand holds the knife and fork, especially as ‘handedness’ is one of the red flags for Dyspraxia.

      How to teach your child to use cutlery:
      Begin by just using a knife, no fork. Ideally start on a flat board and as skills progress put the playdoh roll onto a plate and practise some more that way. Encourage your child to hold the knife with the first finger resting on top of the knife (mark the point with Tippex). Practise away from meal times to get started. Practise with Playdoh, toast, bananas with or without their skins, Plasticine (offers more resistance than Playdoh), cut chocolate bars into chunks. Progress then to typical lunctime food for cutting practise – sausages, fish fingers, carrots, chips. Generally the hand they hold the pencil in would hold the knife. Make a roll in playdoh, hold the roll with one hand just beside where the cut is to be made, keeping the fingers a safe distance from the knife. Have your child place the knife on the roll beside their other hand (sensible distance from fingers!) and have them cut through the roll. Practice putting the knife down in-between cuts so that they can successfully find their grip each time, repeat until 5-6 cuts have been made. Cut with the knife using a sawing action – not the stab and drag that many Dyspraxics prefer. Some people prefer to offer their children a sharper knife (steak knife) at meal times – Oli definitely prefers this, it makes cutting a lot easier. Once knife cutting (sawing) is mastered it’s time to introduce the fork.

      Again, demonstrate how to hold the fork with their pointer resting on top of the fork (mark with Tippex). Say to them that their fork is going to do the work that their hand did when they held the food when practising knife work. The fork will allow their hands to stay clean and prevent them from cutting their fingers (it all needs explaining to our Dyspraxic kids). Again with a Playdoh roll etc. ask your child to pick up only the fork and have them push it into the roll near to where they want to make their first cut. Holding the roll still with their fork have them pick up their knife and saw cut through the piece. Make longer rolls which will provide more cutting practise, returning the cutlery each time to ensure they have the grip mastered. Once you have progressed to a plate place a little Dycem under the plate to keep it from moving.

      If you have used Caring Cutlery to master the knife and fork process then I would keep the plasticine practise going but offer a range of different knives and get them used to other cutlery too so that after a while they can switch away from the supportive cutlery and use the school cutlery like every one else. It might be an idea to ask the school to borrow a set of their cutlery for practise at home. It will take time though so I wouldn’t rush into it.

      When Oli was younger I bought some velcro fruit and vegetables that came with a plastic chopping knife to help him to begin to master his knife. It won’t necessarily teach the ‘sawing’ action but it was a good start and fun to do. Engage your children in food prep at home, you might nervously watch over them but they love the ‘risk’ factor of a big sharp knife. Always be totally 100% watching and advising whilst they do this! If you are a bit of a nervous type you can buy really big plastic lettuce knives to give your children the feel of a chopping knife to use on Playdoh or plasticine. The chopping action is different though and will need to be taught. (I’ll put some detail in about this soon: rock from point to end).

      As with everything I write I would always recommend saving some money up to see an OT or speech/language therapist for professional advice. You might be buying cutlery to fix a problem that a few exercises may remedy or it may uncover a bigger picture – for us it was called ‘sensory processing disorder’. Some of the OT’s in the UK have now been trained by Kay Toomey – a specialist in children’s eating problems – you can follow a food school/science programme with them. I also like the book we sell called ‘Just Take A Bite’, it’s one of the only books I’ve found so far that goes beyond addressing ‘picky eaters’. By the way, all you kind-hearted souls who suggest to us already stressed-out parents to starve a child and they will eat – Oli went for 5 days like this and didn’t eat a thing – they won’t! They need our help, they are not spoilt, fussy children (phew – that memory will never go away – had to get that off my chest!).

      I’m sure I have a lot more to add to this Billy and will in time, we are intending to stock all the cutlery I mention above as we continue to expand with the wonderful support people are providing to our web shop..

      Billy, I hope I have helped a little. If you have any further questions, please ask us…

      Kindest regards…

      Lisa

  6. Just wanted to say thank you for the Schoolvision recommendation, I found a local Schoolvision consultant from reading your article a few weeks ago, 2 visits later my son has glasses, from having no issue detected from the normal NHS vision tests, issues have now been identified by Schoolvision which will be contributing to some of the challenges he has. Thank you so much for the recommendation!

    1. Annie – thank you so much for sharing this information, it makes our whole website worthwhile and I am thankful every day that Schoolvision exists, they transformed our son who now leads a very full, happy and confident life. I hope your journey with them is equally rewarding… Lisa x

  7. Hello, I just found your website and was thrilled with the information. Clear and concise. Here is the most interesting part…I am a 53-year-old woman that recently realized that this had been my, what others call a problem. I look at a big part of it as an asset because I happened to find great tools, accidently….but you know what I mean.

    I was living in Dallas with my family, and I was tested the summer between the 5th and 6th grade. They wanted me tested because I was struggling, I had always struggled. After days of testing, I was diagnosed with hand-eye coordination. Fast forward, leave Dallas, move back to New England for the 7th grade while my father started a new business and my mother drank, about, every day. Nothing was ever done with the tests. I was “lazy”. I was “difficult.” I was lost.

    I decided less than a year ago to Google hand-eye coordination because I had been doing some strange things, opening the car door instead of the window flying down the highway…not good.

    The point of all of this is that I had a choice. I could be cheesed off and victimized or be intrigued and learn so many things about myself that I have been doing for years and just felt like I was a flake. My husband helps me now rather than getting frustrated. I will say this…If I had known then, what I know now, my life would have been very different. BUT…big but, I love my life. All of the challenges made me stronger and a fighter. I am an excellent hairdresser, and I would not have chosen the field because of my “disability.” It’s not a disability; it’s an advantage. No one cuts the way I do because of the way I see things. I worked for Paul Mitchell for the first 18 years of my life and I belive that the rehearsed dialogue that I had to learn, imprinted it. I was taught proper posture and how to stand while cutting. Between the physical growth and the mental growth of having experiential learning, I realized that I am quite smart. My career as a hairdresser and my stubborn behavior made me who I am.

    I am going to have my eyes checked by someone that knows what they are doing because that part sounds amazing!!

    Thank you!!
    Sheryl
    Kennebunkport, ME

    1. Hi Sheryl

      Your story is so inspiring – a very huge thank you for taking your time to share it. I agree with you that if there is something that you want to achieve and you rehearse it often enough with a mix of stubborn determination you can achieve it and what a creative advantage you have with your ‘brilliantly different’ way of thinking and learning. Your email made my day! You are a shining example to every child and adult with Dyspraxia. Thank you!!

  8. Thank you, I am an adult that didn’t get a diagnosis for dyspraxia as a child. I went to an optician in my 20’s for the first time ever, and the optician was a bit shocked. One optician told me I am always tired and get headaches, because my brain has to work hard at adjusting to what I am seeing to make sense of things. Mis-hearing, mis-seeing etc. is now a huge part of my humour, and sadly it is very amusing to others.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Karen and for stressing the importance of a thorough eye check for all children and adults diagnosed with dyspraxia. It really does affect energy levels and the ability to concentrate. If the brain is working so hard just to try and interpret what it sees it has little capacity left for the hearing which is why you mis-hear so regularly. Once corrected (which as an adult can take quite a while) you should hopefully see an improvement in your hearing. Thanks again… Lisa

  9. Thank you for a fabulous list. My son has a diagnosis of Severe Universal Learning Difficulties however both my husband and I believe he is dyspraxic as all of the above is like reading about my own son. We asked whether he possibly could be and the Dr refused to even entertain the idea! Instead we have left the diagnosis as it stands and instead teach him about his movements going to Taekwando and weekly multi sport club has really helped him after 18 months he could jump, hop and run in a slightly more straight line (he always ran straight into people before)! He too had a sight problem missed despite having hospital checkups as a baby as it looked like he had a squint instead before glasses he apparently saw round objects as though shaped as rugby balls he was finally given glasses at 6 and his reading writing and behaviour changed instantly!

    1. Thanks for sharing this Claire – martial arts is known to be really effective for children with Dyspraxia especially those who also have ADHD. It is rewarding to our children as they are not competing against other children and can achieve the different levels and receive rewards and belts as encouragement for their efforts. Oli did this for a while, eventually the movements got a little too complex for him to process but he was very happy with his clutch of belts and it improved his coordination and concentration.

  10. Yes, similar situation here. Diagnosis at the age of 37…still getting used to it without trying to punish myself unduly because as with many things, the processing time takes as long as it takes and I never realised it was so much longer than the way others probably experience it.

    This is a really caring and upbeat set of recommendations. I really do get the instant unease with certain restaurants and smells/textures of foods (still). I so remember the deadly months and months that the clock, and shoelaces, took, and I would have loved the trampoline idea, and really taken to the hour/minute logic with the length of the words. Oh Lord…just remembered a similar awfulness with trying to be taught circle-based maypole dancing at the age of about 6 as well.

    You may well have found this out already, but I think so much of my externalisation and organisation relies on post-it notes. I almost need nothing else and have taught myself many things with them over a lot of years. Don’t underestimate them even though they might seem almost too simple and obvious!

    1. Ah, the post-it note! I stuck so many around my computer screen it looked like the petals of a flower! Thanks for sharing that, lists and post-it notes really do help! Much like your maypole dancing Kath, I think my son will remember the day he was asked to do the triple jump on his school sports day – not the best athletic event they could have chosen for a Dyspraxic child :-\

  11. Wow! This has opened up my world! We are hopefully being assessed soon for dcd and dvd with my 4 yr old. He was under GDD but after a 6 week assessment they need to do further investigations. But everything you have written about sounds quite like him! I will mention to the OT about the eye tests, that’s really interesting. Thank you, I’m really pleased I found this post!

  12. My ds was diagnosed with dyspraxia aged 8, while we were in Gibraltar. I had suspected there were issues with his vision since he was very small (we’d been referred to paediatrician when he was less than a year old) but NHS eyetests and examinations came up with nothing. I found this website looking for pencils and grips that might help him and I read this blog and was straight away drawn to the Schoolvision. We were coming back to the UK to visit family and decided it was worth a try. If it helps him I would try anything :-). It was found that his eyes where focusing at different lengths and his absolute obsession with the colour orange was another cry out for help. So now 2 prescriptions in its hard to describe the differences. His OT says his balance is beyond recognition to what it was, he runs differently, finds it easier to catch things and seems much more confident in his physical self. We’ve still got work to do as he didn’t crawl as it was easier for him to get up and walk so he hasn’t developed the strength and flexibility in his wrists he should have and also continue to work on his physical awareness and co-ordination. At least now his vision isn’t a barrier. If you’ve had a diagnosis I strongly recommend taking the time to find a Schoolvision practioner.

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Dyspraxia Shop UK for DCD, Dyspraxia, Developmental Coordination Disorder. Dyspraxia Products: pens & pencils (Penagain, Twist 'n write, Yoropen, evo.pen, rinG-Pen), writing slopes, exercise equipment, gymnic movin' sit cushions etc. Blog, Ideas, Reviews. For all Dyspraxics, Schools, SENCO's, Adults, Teenagers, Parents & Carers of children with Dyspraxia and Dyspraxia Health Professionals.