Dyspraxia is a neuro-development disorder which affects motor planning in children and adults. This can be the motor planning of fine or gross motor skills or the planning required for speech.
The two types of dyspraxia
- Global dyspraxia
- Verbal dyspraxia
1. Global dyspraxia
- Affects the whole body
- Affects the motor planning of gross motor and fine skills for example, may have trouble catching and throwing a ball or doing handwriting
- Can have clumsiness/difficulty with balance and co-ordination
- Takes longer to learn a new skill, e.g. riding a bike
- Can impact on dressing, eating and self care.
2. Verbal dyspraxia (sometimes called Apraxia)
- Affects the ability to speak
- Affects planning and programming of speech sounds, syllables, words and sentences
- Can be two types – putting in extra sounds or omitting sounds when speaking
- Their understanding is better than their talking ability
- Their connected speech can be very hard to understand
- Consistently inconsistent in how they say words for example may say too four different ways
- Limited range of letter sounds and distorted vowels
- Difficulty with smooth movement between sound and words
- The “music” of the voice is changed/flat
Verbal dyspraxia does not come from
- The child being lazy or naughty
- Delayed speech
- Having weak muscles
- Their environment
How is behaviour affected?
- There can be frustration and anxiety
- It impacts on self esteem and their ability to interact socially with others
- They can react strongly to changes in routine
- Can be more likely to play alone.
How is learning affected?
Areas of learning that are affected
- Affects handwriting
- Hard to follow routine and instructions
- Hard to understand and follow the rules of games
- Can become fidgety
- Takes longer to process information
- Can co-exist with other learning difficulties
- A person with verbal dyspraxia will see a speech therapist for help
- A person with global dyspraxia will see an Occupational Therapist/Physio for help.
What will help for your child?
- Associate tactile and visual symbols with sounds (multi sensory learning)
- A little bit and often
- Repetition, repetition, repetition
What helps with communication
- Picture communication books
- Low text methods eg photos, visual clues, post it notes
- High text methods, eg ipads and apps.
- Building sound and early words is important
- Create a brag book – pictures of words your child can say, nearly make, etc
Supporting children with verbal dyspraxia
- Most children are stronger with their eyes than their ears – visual based learner so match words with objects/pictures/symbols
- Nuffield Dyspraxia Program is one approach
- Making words with other programs
- Flip Charts
- Moving Across Syllables
- Kaufman Speech To Language Protocol
Supporting children with global dyspraxia
- Allowing extra time for processing
- Use visual timetables
- Good seating so both feet on the ground
- Visual prompts when giving verbal instructions
- Provide a routine
- Developmental Learning Centre - Dyspraxia
- Health Info - Apraxia of Speech
- Dyspraxia Support Group - NZ
- Dyspraxia Foundation - UK
Information provided from presentation by Ross Harland, Ministry of Education, Invercargill.