Dyspraxia & School

Claire Walley
January 16, 2024

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that affects movement and coordination. Dyspraxia does not impact cognitive abilities, but it can give the impression it does, as children take longer to do things as they process the physical information around them. Children with dyspraxia are perfectly capable in school and can work in line with their peers. It may be that they need a little extra attention from time to time to access learning and feel confident in their abilities. There tends to be more boys with it than girls and although the cause is not fully understood it is believed to be genetic.

Dyspraxia is common, up to 10% of the population display some form of dyspraxic tendencies. Dyspraxia impacts a range of day-to-day skills:

  • Difficulty in writing or gripping a pencil.
  • Difficulty navigating technology such as moving a mouse on a computer.
  • Subjects that required coordinated movements can be tricky, such as PE and art.
  • Gross motor skills
  • Planning and organisation.

There are four types of dyspraxia. Constructional which impacts spatial awareness. Oromotor which can impact speech. Ideomotor dyspraxia effects single step task and ideational effects a child’s coordination. Dyspraxia can also have an impact on a child’s social, emotional, and mental health (SEHM).

As with all learning differences children can become self-conscious or frustrated when they see their classmates breeze through a task that they find a challenge. Despite this, dyspraxic children show great strength in other areas. Research has found that children with dyspraxia are more likely to have good long-term memory, are highly creative and are great strategists.

As teachers and parents there are some simple things, we can put in place to help our dsypraxic children thrive.

  1. Look into specialist equipment. Children with dyspraxia find using wider pencils easier for example.
  2. Children may struggle with applying pressure to writing equipment. Squashing a pen’s nib so all the ink comes out. Consider using felt tip pens, or stationary with a firm nib.
  3. Get creative with handwriting – the most important thing is that the child can convey their learning, not if their handwriting is neat. Use typing where possible or other forms of recording learning – such as a video diary for example.
  4. Upskill your dyspraxic child with touch typing early. We live in a world where typing is key so help them develop this worthwhile skill in the classroom.
  5. Reduce distractions – children with dyspraxia are easily distracted (or looking for a way out of failing at a task). Sit them near you and give them lots of attention and praise.
  6. Provide movement breaks.
  7. Give extra time for tasks and consider apply for exam concessions.
  8. Ensure your instructions are clear, in stages and give children processing time.
  9. Use visual aids as much as possible.
  10. Do not refer to them as clumsy! They have a neurological condition. We would refer to a wheelchair user as clumsy so dsypraxic child need not suffer that label either!

The SEN Expert offers a range of services for young people, families and schools. We offer support for parents to help navigate the complex world of Special Educational Needs. We will work with you closely to ensure the best for your child.

The SEN Expert was set up by Claire in 2021 following a successful career spanning 12 years in school improvement, special educational needs, safeguarding and the arts.

Claire has worked as a Deputy Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher, Consultant and SENCO in both state and private schools in inner city London, the Southwest, the Midlands and the USA.

Throughout her career, Claire has ensured solid outcomes for the young people she has worked with. Be that a set of good exam grades, a placement in specialist setting or getting a part time job.

Claire is a working mother, and understands the challenges parents face trying to ensure their children are happy and successful. We aim to provide young people with a creative route to the personal and professional adult life they deserve.

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We offer support for families, children, and schools to navigate the complex world of SEN.

Check out our full list of services at our website www.thesenexpert.co.uk or follow us on Instagram @senexpert for daily advice on special educational needs.

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