Rough Guide to Dyspraxia & ‘DCD’

Rough Guide to Dyspraxia & ‘DCD’

While most people have heard of dyslexia (see our recent guide), fewer are aware of a condition called dyspraxia. In this rough guide we give an overview as to what dyspraxia is, how it affects children, how to spot the signs of it and what can be done to mitigate its effects.

Please note: Dyspraxia is a form of Developmental Co-ordination Disorder or ‘DCD’ for short. Indeed, because there are different forms of dyspraxia, medical professionals generally tend to refer to the condition as DCD rather than dyspraxia. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll use either of the terms interchangeably to mean the type of dyspraxia that people are born with or develop naturally (not other types that may be the result of physical trauma like stroke or injury).

What is Dyspraxia/DCD?

In essence, dyspraxia (DCD) is a condition that causes problems with movement and co-ordination. When children have this, they may appear more clumsy than their peers and the condition will adversely affect how well they execute physical activities. For this reason, they may reach some of their key developmental milestones later than expected. There are varying degrees of the condition, so children who have it may exhibit symptoms sooner, later or more/less severely than others.

  • The condition cannot be cured, so needs to be managed (usually right into adulthood) in order to mitigate its effects.
  • Dyspraxia affects 3 to 4 times more boys than girls.
  • It’s not usually possible to get a definitive diagnosis before a child is at least 4 to 5.
  • The condition is also sometimes referred to as Specific Developmental Disorder of Motor Function (SDDMF).
  • Children with dyspraxia often have other conditions including ADHD, autism, dyslexia and/or sometimes problems with speech.

How Does it Affect Children?

Although dyspraxia usually has nothing to do with intelligence or the ability to think, the condition can really hold children back. As well as the innate inconvenience of not being good at co-ordinating movements and physical tasks, it can leave children prone to being less fit. This is simply because they’re not naturally co-ordinated enough to be good at sport and physical activities, so are less likely to partake in them.

Children with dyslexia/DCD may also have trouble with concentration, low attention spans, following instructions, copying information and organising themselves or other items. Due to the issues around the condition, they are often slower at picking up new skills. All of this can be very frustrating for them, so sometimes they develop behavioural problems too. Dyspraxia/DCD can make a child feel different, feel isolated, sometimes become the focus for bullying and often have trouble making friends. All of this can lead on to give sufferers a low sense of self-esteem.

Signs to Look Out For

Babies and toddlers with dyspraxia may start to exhibit a delay in starting to crawl, roll or sit. Before they’re one, they may also end up in odd body positions or have strange posture.

As they develop and grow older, they may show difficulty when they eventually walk, feed themselves, dress, draw and/or write. They may have trouble stacking things, playing with certain toys, using pencils, using cutlery, eating and generally co-ordinating their movements. Playground activities like running, jumping, and kicking or catching a ball may be difficult for them to co-ordinate correctly. Trouble with buttoning clothing when they’re older and tying show laces is also a classic sign.

Why Children Develop Dyspraxia

It’s not known why children develop dyspraxia/DCD but children are more likely to develop it …

  • if they were born prematurely;
  • if they were low in weight at birth;
  • if they come from a family with a history of it;
  • if their mothers drank alcohol or took illegal drugs whilst pregnant.

Diagnosing Dyspraxia/DCD

If you suspect that your baby, toddler or child may exhibiting possible symptoms of dyspraxia/DCD, you should consult your GP, Health Visitor or the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) at your child’s educational setting. Your child may then be referred to a specialist healthcare professional who can assess them. Diagnosis itself is usually undertaken by a paediatrician, often in tandem with an occupational therapist who will later be involved in treatment if the diagnosis turns out to be positive. Much more detail about dyspraxia/DCD diagnosis is available on the NHS website.

How to Help Children with Dyspraxia/DCD

While dyspraxia cannot be cured, there are ways to help children with the condition and indeed they may well require help for the long term. A tailored help plan is usually generated by a combination of healthcare and educational professionals in tandem with parents and the individual concerned. The plan will be designed to mitigate the specific challenges that a child is facing, so will differ from case to case. For example, a child may need help from a paediatric occupational therapist to master use of cutlery, writing, playing and dressing etc. And/or a clinical psychologist may be needed to help with the child’s mental health. An educational psychologist may be able to help the child overcome barriers to them progressing their education … and so on. Learn more about the types of treatment available for children with dyspraxia here.

The following video may also be useful as an illustration of how one family deals with childhood dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia & Special Educational Needs at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

It’s important for nursery staff, education professionals and parents to look out for the signs of possible dyspraxia, and any other conditions, in children under their care. The earlier symptoms are spotted, the more likely the child can be helped to best effect. While it’s not possible for children under 4 or 5 to be positively diagnosed with dyspraxia/DCD with full certainty, should a positive diagnosis be suspected, then a tailored learning and development programme can be put in place at the earliest opportunity. In this way, the child will be supported where needed and any adverse effects of the possible condition can be reduced to a minimum. Using this approach means that even children with special educational needs can thrive, achieving personal bests as they progress through their learning and development milestones.

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamLittle Cedars is one of the best nurseries in the area around Streatham, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting and Balham. We’re based at 27 Aldrington Road, Streatham, SW16 1TU and offer outstanding, weekday childcare services for babies, toddlers and preschoolers up to the age of 5. So, if you are looking for a high quality nursery or pre-school in any of these south west London areas, please make contact with us while a few places are still available (please choose a button):

Dyslexia – How to Spot the Early Warning Signs

Dyslexia - How to Spot the Early Warning Signs

Many dyslexic children are highly intelligentDespite many dyslexic people being highly intelligent, dyslexia makes it difficult for them to recognise words and/or be able to break them down into their smaller components. It is recognised as a Specific Learning Difficulty (‘SpLD’) and can seriously affect their education if not recognised and addressed early.

A dictionary defines dyslexia as “a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence”. When it first came to the attention of doctors in the late 19th Century, it was more commonly referred to as “Word Blindness”, which pretty much sums up how dyslexia affects people afflicted by it.

The Adverse Effects of Dyslexia

Symptoms of dyslexia can include blurred, jumbled or even moving letters when readingSuch an affliction can have profound implications for a person. It will adversely affect their reading, writing and comprehension, thereby limiting their overall learning capability and hindering overall literacy. These are particularly critical skills during their early years as that’s at the start of their education, when the knock-on effects of such limiting factors will be at their most significant. It will slow down their progress in many topics and areas of education, also leading potentially to lower self-confidence and possibly even getting them mislabelled as ‘slow’ or ‘lazy’ by the unenlightened. Ultimately, it can severely limit their potential careers and life outcomes.

Those are incredibly unfair ramifications and that’s why we are taking a closer look at how parents, carers and education professionals can learn to spot the signs of dyslexia early, so that dyslexic children can be helped as soon as possible.

“The earlier a child with dyslexia is diagnosed, the more effective educational interventions are likely to be.” (NHS)

Early Warning Signs of Possible Dyslexia

In pre-school children, there are several things to watch out for. These include:

  • There are many signs to look out for when it comes to possible dyslexiaChildren finding it difficult to learn the alphabet;
  • Little interest in attempting to do so;
  • Difficulty pronouncing multi-syllable words (or phrases) including jumbling the the order of them — ‘flutterby’ instead of ‘butterfly’ for example;
  • Difficulty with rhyming words and even nursery rhymes;
  • Slower speech development compared to others in their year group;
  • Finding it difficult to express themselves verbally, including jumbling word order in sentences and having trouble recalling appropriate word(s) to use;
  • Slower development of fine motor skills, for example maintaining a regular rhythm on a percussive instrument.

We should add, though, that having any or even all of these problems does not, in itself, definitely mean that the child has dyslexia — they are just possible signs of it. Many children without dyslexia may have some of these symptoms, so it’s important not to jump to incorrect conclusions. The symptoms of dyslexia also vary greatly from person to person, so diagnosis is not easy.

Dyslexia Signs in School-Age Children

It may become easier to diagnose dyslexia in children once they start school, as they will be reading and writing more by that time. Signs of possible dyslexia to add to the list above may then include:

  • Dyslexic children can struggle both reading and writingThe child describing words and letters as visually jumbling, blurring or even moving around when they try to read them;
  • Giving poor written answers but good verbal ones;
  • Difficulty learning common sequences of words like months of the year, days in the week and, as we mentioned before, letters of the alphabet;
  • Difficulty following a sequence of instructions given at the same time (e.g. ‘put the fork on the plate, then take it to the kitchen’), but being OK if they are given separately;
  • Inconsistent spelling and incorrect letter order;
  • Mistaking numbers and letters for one another, for example using p instead of d or 9 instead of 6;
  • Slow reading and writing speeds, poor quality of handwriting and making mistakes when reading out loud;
  • A lower-than-average grasp of phonetics, phonology and ‘word attack’ skills, that might otherwise have helped a child to work out the possible meaning of multi-syllable/multi-part words through attention to the individual parts.

Learn more about assessment and diagnosis of dyslexia on the NHS site.

Is There a Cure for Dyslexia?

There is no cure for dyslexia, but measures can be taken to help mitigate the adverse effects of itThere is no cure for dyslexia, but measures to mitigate its effects can be taken by education professionals, parents, carers and even those affected by it. It’s incredibly important, though, for both parents and education professionals to try to recognise it early, for example at nursery or pre-school, so that a suitable teaching programme can be introduced as early as possible.

Dyslexia & Special Needs at Little Cedars Nursery

If staff or parents of children at our nursery suspect that a child may be dyslexic — or have any other special needs — it’s important to discuss it together as early as possible in the child’s education. In this way, an appropriate learning and development programme can be agreed; one that is tailored to suit the individual child’s needs, in the best possible way. Doing so as early as possible, ideally starting in their pre-school years, will help to limit any adverse effects caused by the condition. When properly addressed, there is no reason why a child with dyslexia shouldn’t be able to absolutely thrive, despite the condition. It goes without saying that we are always happy to discuss any concerns parents may have about their children — indeed we encourage it so that we can work together to address such concerns.

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamLittle Cedars is an outstanding nursery in Streatham SW16, near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting and Balham. If you are looking for high quality nurseries or pre-schools in any of these areas, please get in touch and we’d be delighted to show you and your child/children around, so you can see the wonderful nursery facilities, happy children and exceptionally professional staff for yourself. Please get in touch, while a few places are still available, via one of the following: