How to Support Your Child if They’re Showing Signs of Dyspraxia

The week of October 9 - 15 is National Dyspraxia awareness week, but what is Dyspraxia and how can you support your child at home and build on their nursery experiences if they are showing signs of Dyspraxia? Dawn, our Area Childhood Director who specialises in SEND, sheds light.

Dyspraxia Explained

Dyspraxia is also known as developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) as it is a surprisingly common condition affecting movement and coordination in both children and adults.

In young children, you may notice that your child performs less well than expected in daily activities for their age and stage. Examples of this include:

  • They were delayed in acquiring early motor skills such as sitting, crawling and walking
  • Their movements appear awkward or hesitant and they have frequent trips or falls
  • They have difficulty getting dressed and struggle to do up buttons, zips etc.
  • They have difficulties kicking and catching balls or similar objects
  • Using a toothbrush or cutlery is difficult for them
  • They have a poor pencil grip, which impacts their drawing and mark making skills
  • They find piecing together construction toys difficult
  • They struggle using scissors

DCD Diagnosis and Support

A formal diagnosis of DCD is made by a paediatrician or occupational therapist. However, if you are concerned about this area of your child's development, it's also important to talk to their Key Person in nursery, their Health Visitor, or their GP.

Prior to this though you can support your child at home and build on their nursery experiences.

Here are 5 ways that you can do that.

  1. Provide clothes that are easier for them to put on or take off. For example, shoes with velcro fastenings and trousers, skirts, etc. with elasticated waist bands. It can also help to lay out your child's clothes in the order that you want them to put them on. For example, pants, vest, trousers, t-shirt. When they are putting on their coat, hold one arm initially until they can put both arms on themselves and then start the zip for them, allowing them to finish the task. Adding something to the zip tab can also help as it will make it easier for them to grasp.
  2. Provide fun, everyday opportunities for your child to practise physical skills at home with activities such as cooking. They can practise mixing, pouring and spreading doing this. If the activities are meaningful, they will enjoy them and gain so much more from them than they would from just doing finger strength exercises. How much fun do children have decorating biscuits with icing and sprinkles? Both activities need good fine motor skills, and you will be developing these while having fun and creating memories at the same time.
  3. Play ball games with your child. Start with rolling a large ball to each other. Then, move onto catching and kicking, reducing the size of the ball and the distance between you as your child improves. You can also find textured balls or use bean bags to help your child with this skill.
  4. Have fun using scissors to cut out pictures of their favourite characters from comics or magazines, or their favourite toys from a catalogue. This is much more enjoyable than cutting along lines and will help to develop the same skills. Just be sure to monitor them while scissors are in play.
  5. Clothes pegs are an excellent resource to develop finger strength. You can get your child to help peg out the washing or make a sunshine with a paper plate putting the pegs around it to make the rays.

For more ideas and inspiration, why not take a look at the mess for less website or the imagination tree site

And as always, have fun with your child as you learn and develop together!