Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder of the brain in childhood causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement.
Although it is not linked to intelligence, dyspraxia can however lead to difficulties with:
- Following instructions
- Organisational skills
- Speech and language
- Learning to read and write
Children with dyspraxia often find the stresses of school life hard to contend with. They may have problems making and maintaining friendships; clumsy movements may be misinterpreted as aggression; failure to adhere to instructions may be misconstrued as disobedience and disappointment or failure in PE can potentially lead to self-esteem issues. It is integral therefore to recognise that a dyspraxic child can easily become the victim of intimidation or seclusion.
Unfortunately, dyspraxia can’t be treated, however teachers can assist children by helping them to cope with the effects. Here are a few tips on how to help children with dyspraxia:
- Focus on providing one instruction at a time, as multiple commands will easily confuse a dyspraxic child.
- Help children to remember information by writing lists, you could use School Dry wipe magnetic whiteboards.
- Repeat messages and instructions to check that children understand what has been said and what they need to do.
- Recognise and compliment every effort and achievement. Dyspraxic children will be accustomed to disappointment and failure, so do take every opportunity you possibly can to boost their confidence.
- Do not compare or allow anyone else to compare between a dyspraxic child and an able-bodied child.
- Make sure dyspraxic children are strategically placed in class, away from any distractions so that they can focus easily on you.
- An angled board such as the Wedge Jotter is a fantastic tool to use for children with dyspraxia, for full details of the benefits of using an angled board for writing.
- Bite size learning works well with dyspraxic children as they find it very challenging to understand and interpret lots of information. Give them time and be patient.
- If you can, try to teach dyspraxic children on a personal one to one level and never isolate them from the rest of the class. Also, remember that dyspraxic children may need additional help with practical subjects so always encourage team working.
- Preparation is key when teaching dyspraxic children, make sure that the children are prepared in advance for any changes to their established routine, this will evade causing them any unnecessary stress.
To surmise, teaching and meeting the needs of dyspraxic children requires patience, understanding and skill.
Classroom guidelines for teachers can also be found on the Dyspraxia Foundation website.
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