Dyspraxia: Coping With An Incurable Disorder

Dyspraxia is a debilitating condition that can affect the way people perform tasks, work or study. The condition can be evident at such a young age and can continue until the child reaches his teenage or adult years. Although there is no true cure to the condition, people can still use a variety of approaches and techniques that will help the affected individual cope with the effects for life. The objectives of treatment of dyspraxia should focus more on alleviating the associated symptoms and maintaining the safety and health of patients.

Defining Dyspraxia

Individuals afflicted with dyspraxia will have difficulty in coordination and movement. The condition is also known as a disability or disorder in motor movement or learning. Patients with the condition will find it difficult to perform coordinated and synchronized motions. Aside from the motor challenges, patients might also have communication or language problems. They will also display slowed progress in learning, thought and analysis. People with dyspraxia are not dumb or have low IQ but because of the disorder, they find it very hard to learn. Children in particular will not reach developmental milestones in time. Some might achieve a few stages quickly and then find the later challenges more and more difficult.

Dyspraxia is also called DCD or developmental coordination disorder. Other names include motor learning difficulty or perceptuo-motor dysfunction. Traditionally, it was also referred to as minor or minimal brain damage and clumsy child syndrome. The effects of the disorder stems from problems in the way the brain processes information. Coordination and organization of movement are impaired because neural messages are not effectively transmitted or sent. Affected individuals will find it hard to think critically, make plans or follow instructions. The condition is not as rare as some people might believe. One in every ten people is said to suffer from dyspraxia to a certain extent. About 2 in every 100 people have the disorder in severe form. The difficulty seems to be more prevalent among males constituting 80% of affected persons.

Signs and Symptoms of Dyspraxia

Generally, people with dyspraxia will show the signs and symptoms at an early age. Among toddlers and very young children, parents might notice that their child is delayed in basic actions like learning how to speak, sit, crawl, walk, roll, stand, potty train, learn new words and communicate effectively. When the child turns 4 to 6 years old, the delays and difficulty in movement and speech becomes more noticeable.

Children will have trouble tying shoelaces, using fine instruments, zipping, buttoning, getting dressed, playing sports and games, solving puzzles, playing mental games, coloring, drawing, processing ideas and thoughts and writing. They may also seem more restless and lack focus and concentration most of the time. They may also trip or bump into things and other structures frequently. Affected children will find it hard to learn new skills or follow guidelines. As an effect, they might feel depressed or fail to build relationships or make friends.

More Effects of Dyspraxia

When the child grows older, more challenges will arise such as difficulty writing or having bad penmanship, difficulty making friends, reluctant to join groups or games, problems when using tools and instruments and not being oriented to time and place. At some point, children will no longer be able to cope with the demands in school and might fail at tests, quizzes and overall grades. They might need to transfer to a different class or school that specifically deals with students with learning disabilities. Dyspraxia can also be noticeable among children who have problems in math and other subjects requiring critical thinking, slowed reaction to stimuli, disorganization and inability to socialize.

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Diagnosing Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia can be diagnosed by different health professionals. Parents can actually see the initial symptoms and then have a physician or therapist confirm the diagnosis. A full assessment will be done to determine the abilities and skills of patients. The person’s intellectual ability, fine motor skills and gross motor skills will all be considered. As for gross motor skills, the patient will be evaluated according to how he uses the large muscles to coordinate body movement.

Activities like walking, running, climbing stairs and dancing may be incorporated. As for fine motor skills, patients will be evaluated according to how they can perform tasks like cutting shapes on paper with a pair of scissors, coloring, writing, buttoning and tying shoelaces. The medical background of the person will also be checked. The physician will determine if the patient has successfully reached developmental milestones. If some of these are not accomplished by the patient, the health professional might conclude that the person is suffering from dyspraxia.

Therapies for Dyspraxia

There is no cure for dyspraxia which is why patients and families should focus more on improving the skills, physical capabilities and strength of affected individuals. There are several therapies that can be used. Each of these will improve the overall condition and capabilities of patients. Occupational therapy will help patients cope with tasks at work and in school. The person can be taught how to perform certain tasks and cope with the demands of daily living.

Language or speech therapy can also be used to improve the way the patient expresses himself. The person can better understand terms and can communicate better. Perceptual motor therapy will boost the patient’s auditory, visual, language and movement capabilities. People with dyspraxia will exhibit new abilities and can perform new functions. As a result, the person’s self-esteem and disposition will also improve significantly.

Many of the treatments and therapies for dyspraxia can be done in the comfort of your own home. Keep a journal or logbook and list down all the developments and changes in the patient’s performance. The challenges and tasks should also progress over time. Write down the responses of the patient to each and include significant improvements as well as possible side effects. Any unusual symptom presented by the patient should be reported to the doctor immediately. Doctors will regularly evaluate the health and overall condition of the patient as he goes through the regimen.