Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder DCD)

To be exact, Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is an ‘umbrella’ term that covers a number of motor coordination conditions and Dyspraxia is the most common of these so the names are often interchanged.

Definition

Dyspraxia/DCD is a common neurological condition affecting motor coordination and sensory processing in children and adults. It is experienced by between 5 and 8% of all school aged children, three times more males than females. It affects the way the brain transmits motor messages to the body. In simple terms - It affects the way the brain ‘tells’ the body what to do! The key feature of Dyspraxia is difficulty in planning, organising and carrying out movements in everyday situations. It can also involve problems with memory, concentration, speech, social skills and emotional difficulties. It does not affect a person’s intelligence but it is the organisation and output of that intelligence causes problems.

Individuals with Dyspraxia can present very differently depending on the particular symptoms of Dyspraxia they experience and the severity of their condition. From a wide range of possible symptoms, each person will only experience some of these.

Although dyspraxia may occur in isolation, it frequently coexists with other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, language disorders and social, emotional and behavioural impairments.

Causes

There is no known cause. Research suggests that it is due to an immaturity of neurone (nerve cell) development in the central nervous system. Dyspraxia sometimes runs in families.

Symptoms

Dyspraxia/DCD affects Fine motor coordination (small hand and finger movements) making tasks such as closing buttons, tying shoe laces, using a scissors and handwriting difficult. It also affects Gross motor coordination, (large body movements) making tasks such as hopping, climbing, playing football, swimming and cycling difficult.

Signs of dyspraxia include clumsiness, confusion over left and right hands, poor body awareness and posture, poor sense of direction. People with dyspraxia often have difficulty with the routine tasks of daily life such as driving, household chores, cooking and budgeting. The motor coordination difficulties may also impact on their academic progress, social integration and emotional development.

In addition to the physical impairments, Dyspraxia is associated with problems with memory, especially working memory. This typically results in difficulty remembering instructions, difficulty organizing one's time and remembering deadlines, problems carrying out tasks which require remembering several steps in sequence (such as cooking) and increased tendency to lose things. While most of the general population experience these problems to some extent, people with Dyspraxia experience them to a much greater degree.

People with Dyspraxia sometimes have difficulty controlling the amount of sensory information that their body is transmitting to the brain, so as a result such people are prone to sensory overload and panic attacks.

The symptoms are described in more detail in the three stages of life - children, teenagers and adults.

Incidence

Dyspraxia is thought to affect up to ten per cent of the population in varying degrees and up to two per cent severely. There are believed to be one to two children affected in every class of 30 children. Males are four times more likely to be affected than females.

Treatment/Prognosis

At present there is no known cure for dyspraxia, but there is are many therapies and activities that can improve the condition. Most essential tasks can be learnt by people with Dyspraxia but this can take longer requiring them to practice much more than average. Given the right help and support, an individual with dyspraxia can develop strategies to avoid the tasks that they find most difficult and use their strengths to enhance their life and reach their full potential.

Testimonials

"Monica helped my daughter immensely from her initial assessment in Junior Cert to her final assessment in Leaving cert. It was Monica's clear understanding and astuteness that enabled her to make a correct diagnosis of Dyspraxia for my daughter. Her compassion, patience and kindness as well as her hard work are to be applauded. We are indebted to Monica for everything she did for my daughter and the interest she showed in her."

D.C. mother of Secondary School pupil

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