Definition of dyspraxia
Dyspraxia, not to be confused with dyslexia. Both syndromes, however, both belong to “dys” disorders , a term that encompasses disorders in the cognitive system and learning disorders related to them.
Dyspraxia, also known as developmental coordination disorder, corresponds to a difficulty in automating certain gestures, and therefore certain sequences of movements. Praxia corresponds to all coordinated, learned and automated movements, such as learning to write. This disorder is usually discovered at the time of the first acquisitions of the child. Dyspraxia is not related to a psychological or social problem, or to a mental retardation.
Specifically, a dyspraxic child has trouble coordinating certain movements . His actions are not automatic. For gestures made automatically by other children, the dyspraxic child will have to concentrate and make significant efforts. He is slow and clumsy. But also very tired because of the efforts made constantly to make gestures on which he must focus since there is no automatism. His actions are not coordinated. He has difficulties to tie his laces, write, dress, etc.Dyspraxia, which concerns more boys than girls, is still largely unknown. It often leads to some delaysin learning and acquisition. Children who suffer from it often need individualized arrangements to follow in class.
A dyspraxic child, for example, will have difficulty eating properly, filling a glass of water or getting dressed (the child must think about the meaning of each garment but also the order in which it must put them; need help getting dressed). At home, the gestures are neither fluid nor automated and the acquisition of certain gestures proves very laborious, sometimes impossible. He does not like puzzles or building games. He does not draw like other children his age. He has trouble learning to write . He is often described as “very clumsy” by his entourage. He has trouble concentrating at school, forgetting the instructions. He is having trouble catching a ball.
There are several forms of dyspraxia. Its repercussions on the life of the child are more or less important. The dyspraxia is undoubtedly related to abnormalities in the neurological circuits of the brain. This anomaly concerns for example many premature children.
Although little known, dyspraxia is common since it affects almost 3% of children. According to the Health Insurance, about one child per class would have dyspraxia. More broadly, and according to the French Federation of Dys (ffdys), dys disorders would affect nearly 8% of the population.
Symptoms of dyspraxia
They can be quite variable from one child to another:
- Difficulty performing automatic gestures
- Poor coordination of gestures, movements
- Difficulties to draw, write
- Difficulties to dress
- Difficulty using a ruler, scissors or a square
- Significant fatigue linked to a high concentration required to perform certain simple and automatic everyday actions
- There may be disorders that resemble attention disorders because the child is overwhelmed from the attentional point of view because of the phenomenon of double task to perform certain gestures (cognitive congestion)
The boys are affected more than girls by dyspraxia.
Diagnostic of dyspraxia
The diagnosis is made by a neurologist or a neuropsychologist but it is common that it is the school doctor who is at the origin of the detection, following academic difficulties. It is essential that this diagnosis is made quickly because, without diagnosis, the child can be in failure. The management of dyspraxia then concerns many health professionals such as the pediatrician, the psychomotor therapist, the occupational therapist or the ophthalmologist, all of course depending on the difficulties encountered by the dyspraxic child.
Treatment of dyspraxia
Of course, treatment involves the management of symptoms that are, as we have said, very variable from one child to another. It is necessary to take charge of his learning difficulties but also his anxiety or lack of self-confidence, problems that may have arisen following the difficulties encountered by the child, especially at school.
It’s finally a multidisciplinary team who takes the best care of the dyspraxic child. After having made a complete assessment, the team will be able to propose an adapted care and an individualized treatment (with reeducation, psychological help and adaptation to compensate the difficulties for example). Speech therapy, orthoptics and psychomotility can be part of the overall treatment of dyspraxia. Psychological care can be added if necessary. At the same time, help at school, with a personalized plan, can be put in place to facilitate the life of the dyspraxic child in his class. A specialized teacher can also evaluate the child and offer specific support to the school. Dyspraxic children can often easily learn to type to write,
The origins of dyspraxia
The causes are probably multiple and still poorly known. In some cases, brain damage, for example due to prematurity, stroke or head trauma, is the cause of dyspraxia, which is then called lesional dyspraxia. In other cases, that is to say when there is no visible problem in the brain and the child is in perfect health, we talk about developmental dyspraxia. And, in this case, the causes are more unclear. We know that dyspraxia is not linked to a mental deficit or a psychological problem. Some specific areas of the brain would be involved.