Dyspraxia Awareness Week - When is it Just Clumsiness?


This week is Dyspraxia awareness week. Dyspraxia is a co-ordination and movement disability which affects roughly around 5% of the population and is much more common in boys. While it doesn’t affect your child’s intelligence, it can affect their ability learning. The most common sign of it is a high level of clumsiness, but there can also be more subtle signs, such as difficulties with relationships with other children.

When is clumsiness, just clumsiness?

It is well known that children fall over, forget things, and can struggle with their handwriting. But when is clumsiness a sign of something more serious?

The symptoms of dyspraxia include:

  • Constantly falling over
  • Problems with more complex skills such as tying shoelaces and throwing a ball
  • Problems with speech and language
  • Difficulty with understanding social cues and problems in keeping friendships - this can lead to children being the victims of bullying
  • Problems learning in the classroom, particularly in tasks requiring them to integrate different skills such as copying from the blackboard
  • Many will have difficulties structuring their work in Maths or English and drawing diagrams
  • Difficulties in concentration
  • A lack of organisation and a tendency to lose things, or forget what is needed for a lesson
  • Low self-esteem – many will realise they are “different” from other children and can’t do everything in the classroom as well as they would like.

These are all general things that many children could experience, and so it can be very difficult to realise that your child has dyspraxia. Additionally, dyspraxia is often found in children with another learning difficulty such as dyslexia, ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome .

What can I do if I think my child has dyspraxia?

Firstly, you should speak to their teacher about the symptoms. Since they spend a significant amount of time with your child each day, there’s a good chance they may have seen the same things. If they have, they should be able to take you in the right direction.

What can I do if my child is diagnosed with dyspraxia?

You should consider contacting the school first about your child's needs, to see if any additional support can be given. If the problems are not severe a great deal can be done with slight changes to the way your child is taught in class. But if this is not working and your child is not progressing enough at school you can try and secure a statement of special educational needs (SSEN). This is known as getting your child ‘statemented’.

The problem with the statementing process is that sometimes Local Authorities will draft the statement in an unclear and vague way, which can stop it from legally protecting your child's interests. A specialist in education law will be able to make sure that the statement you get is clear, specific and useful to your child in addressing their special educational needs.

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