Reading With Dyspraxia
Quite a number of school aged children, who are not Dyslexic – experience difficulty learning skills, such as knotting their shoelaces, writing their name appropriately or simply being able not to ride a bicycle.
These children who are characterised by impairment in the development of their motor coordination abilities, trip regularly – not only on performance of daily activities but also academic achievement.
Mild motor impairments and their co-relation to academic achievement is still a difficult concept for India to grasp, and as yet, parents and teachers wonder that – how can expressing difficultly learning new movements or organizing and co-coordinating physical movement of the body be related to ‘Learning to Read’.
The logic in the mind of the teachers and parents is very simple. If measured intelligence is on the upper scale, then dropping ‘things’ General ‘Clumsiness’ or poor handwriting should not interfere with memory, comprehension, sequencing, and Learning Issues.
What the well-wishers - may be missing are the difficulties with discrete finger movements, or the ‘eye to hand coordination’ problems. With slow, less accurate, less precise, and widely variable motor performance, Dyspraxic children are the proverbial “two left feet” of the dance floor, the difference being the Arena or the Dance floor in their case is the “Dance floor of Academia”.
Two appreciate the specifics of the experience of living with Dyspraxia, imagine attempting to ‘Bow Tie’ your shoe laces in the morning, with the shirt buttoned up – two ‘eye holes’ below the matching button - and rushing to grab your bag on the way out so as not to be delayed for school. The ensuing emotionally overwhelming sequence of events is enough to imbalance the mind to an extent that it may be almost 2-3 class periods latter that the Dyspraxic child is in a position to organize his thoughts form the ‘Sensory Overload’ that the brain has just been through. We tend to smile of these issues with indulgent parental love, but the scientific fact is that even a fraction of the above can cause a sensory overload that is sufficient to imbalance a normal teenager for the whole day.
In this ensuing gap the child with Dyspraxia has probably gone thorough the first quarter of the day at school in a ‘trance’ like condition and virtually missed every word the teacher spoke. He listened, but did not hear a thing of what was taught.
The level of association between Dyspraxia and learning Disabilities is acknowledged to be around 50%. This means – if a child has a motor co-ordination problem or Dyspraxia there is a more than 50 percent chance that the child will have an associated Learning Disability.
The most frequent co-morbid diagnosis we notice are ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Communication Disorder, Learning Disorder and Aspergers.
When we view the scope of Psychopathological disorders associated with the condition of dyspraxia; the possibility of ASD, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders we will appreciate that the Dyspraxic child may have low self perception and esteem - at school which may lead him to become lonely and isolated, which may eventually translate into depression and withdrawal. Dyspraxic children have low self-perception, which is the cause of higher academic failure and functional disorders.
Dyspraxia has been described, as a hidden disability as there are no obvious outward signs. But every day difficulties expressed with coordination and perceptual processing can seriously affect a child’s handwriting, organization at school and the processing required for reading and numeracy. Physical education is a torture and the child is wrongly accused of being clumsy and messy.
Teachers will notice a discrepancy between this child’s verbal and motor skills, problems with hopping, jumping, balancing, handwriting and moving in and out of spaces will be noticed.
The child with Dyspraxia may start to read well, but may struggle as the text gets smaller and there are more words on the page and may know letter sounds, but may not sequentially blend them together. Tracking difficulties and the effort to read with cause tiredness and a loss of concentration. Eventually reading will become a battleground and even the good reader may soon lose ground due to the effort they need to make and the frustration that the child will experience.
At this stage, if they have not been assessed and identified accurately, it would be unfair for both the teacher and the parent to blame them for avoiding to read.
The Dyslexia Association of India™ conducts extensive and comprehensive screening for this hidden disorder. If parents find that their child is showing any of the below;
- Poor balance.
- Difficulty in riding a bicycle.
- Poor posture and fatigue.
- Difficulty in standing for a long time as a result of weak muscle tone.
- Floppy, unstable round the joints.
- Some people with dyspraxia may have flat feet
- Clumsy gait and movement.
- A poor pen grip, press too hard when writing and difficulty writing along a line
- Inadequate grasp.
- Difficulty with dressing and grooming activities,
- Doing hair, fastening clothes and tying shoelaces
- Difficulty with organizing the content and sequence of their language
- Have unclear speech and be unable to pronounce some words
- Speech with uncontrolled pitch, volume and rate
- Tendency to lose the place while reading.
- Poor visual perception
- Over-sensitive to light
- Difficulty in distinguishing sounds from background noise.
- Tendency to be over-sensitive to noise
- Little sense of time, speed, distance or weight.
- Poor memory, especially short-term memory.
- Unfocused and erratic. Can be messy and cluttered
- Problems with math’s.
- Difficulty with concentration. May be easily distracted
- May do only one thing at a time properly.
- Tendency to take things literally. May listen but not understand
- Slow to adapt to new or unpredictable situations. Sometimes avoids them
- Impulsive. Tendency to be easily frustrated, wanting immediate gratification
- Tend to get stressed, depressed and anxious easily
- May have difficulty sleeping
- Prone to low self-esteem, emotional outbursts, phobias, fears, obsessions.
"Dyspraxia is not a simple delay, which can be self assessed and self remediated. Any attempt to reach a conclusion based on self-analysis can cause more harm than help your child.
Correct psychometric screening which takes into account all the possible symptoms that are visible need to be visited before we can begin to help the child.
The Dyslexia Association of India™ conducts screening for Dyspraxia in a very logical and systematic manner as has been described above. Parents are encouraged to take responsibility for their children and empower themselves with the knowledge that having a screening done is for the betterment of their own child.