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Live webchat with child development expert Professor Amanda Kirby, Wed 12 November, 1-2pm, sponsored by Haliborange

(66 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 07-Nov-08 15:34:30

Hi, we're welcoming Professor Amanda Kirby for a webchat on Wednesday lunchtime. She's an expert in child development, with more than 35 years of specialist experience under her belt. She's written a number of books as both a parent and professional, and her team at the Dyscovery Centre Wales has an international reputation for nutritional and behavioural research.

The Dyscovery Centre is internationally recognised for its work in Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD or dyspraxia) and related specific learning difficulties. Amanda has both a professional and personal interest in DCD as her middle child has coordination difficulties, and trying to address his difficulties first sparked her interest in the area. She's currently based at the University of Wales.

She has written the Haliborange Play and Learn guide and we've asked mumsnetters to comment on the guide here. Everyone who adds their comments on the Play and Learn guide will be entered into a prize draw to win £100 of SpaceNK vouchers.

Please post any advance questions you've got for Amanda here.

Thanks, MNHQ

Mercy Wed 12-Nov-08 17:00:32

I'd forgotten I'd posted on this!

Too late now, but his nursery teacher only commented on his quieteness and his Reception teacher said he is doing fine, requiring far less support to come forward than she had anticipated.

He's only like this at outside of school so I guess it's behavioural. I don't know why though.

RTKangaMummy Wed 12-Nov-08 15:14:00

What I mean is we have an automatic car and although DH and I can drive manual it is hard to adapt back again

And so when hiring cars we always ask for automatic but in europe they are more money and harder to get

RTKangaMummy Wed 12-Nov-08 15:12:17


You have been really deffo brill

Am I right in thinking this is a typo and you mean UNusual ?

some children with dyspraxia can have difficulties with spatial awareness - this is not an usual link

Or do you mean there in NOT a link between dyspraxia and spatial awareness ?

btw we have one of those swiss balls that we have recently got him to sit on while watching TV


Thanks expat re your DH that is excellent news that he drives a manual


HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 12-Nov-08 14:01:35

I'm afraid that's all Professor Kirby's got time for - but she hopes she managed to answer most of your questions.

If there are any she hasn't answered, we're going to send them on to her - and she'll answer them for us later.

Thank you, Professor, for your time today. smile

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:59:33


sorry quick follow up
some children with dyspraxia can have difficulties with spatial awareness - this is not an usual link

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:58:27


I think swimming lessons would be great
some children with motor difficulties sometimes find swimming under the water easier than on top- you could try a snorkel and flippers even-as this sometimes makes it easier. A patient teacher is important.

learning to play the piano can be difficult
I have seen some successes but learning to play the drums may be easier- and I have seen more success with this

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:56:38


the research was from Marian Jongmanns in Holland. If you look this up on Google then you should find it
If not - contact the centre and I can find the link for you

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:53:13

There is lots of awful science around and poorly designed studies. It is important to understand what are complex issues that we undertake rigorous research that allows us to learn more and not make claims that cannot be later substantiated.
We have undertaken a large scale study on children but until we have all the results and they are published I cannot give the results as it would be ' bad science'.

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:51:12

dear zoots
You probably need oily fish at least twice a week. some children may need more than this in order to have sufficient levels- we will know more when we have our full results from the study we have been doing - this should be published next year.
Avoid additives and colouring where you can- there has been some evidence of a link between benzoates and attention and concentration in young children

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:49:01


Dyspraxia effects most aspects of movement in all areas of your life such as cleaning teeth, dressing, using cutlery, playing ball.
Start my teaching your child to jump over a rope. This is the first stage. Once she has done that- then swing the rope back and forth and get her to jump over that. break it down into stages

On the www.parent-plus. org site there is a fact sheet and guidance on learning to ride a bike -( in the activities at home section)

RTKangaMummy Wed 12-Nov-08 13:48:25


Please could you give me the name of the report from Holland?

At the moment he has been given extra time at school for exams etc, as he has very SLOW PROCESSING SPEED but he needs another assessment before his GCSEs, although he has high IQ there is a delay in the processing of information.

Is there any link between dyspraxia and not understanding that a town he lives in is next to another or a country he has visited is located within the world, Sort of a lack of sense of direction



lou031205 Wed 12-Nov-08 13:47:22

Thank you.

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:46:17

Hi lou
It is difficult for me to say to rate specifically your child without having seen her. It sounds like she has some level of delay that is impacting on her daily functioning and skills.

Go to and we have activities for preschool that may be helpful for you with your child.

Take her swimming to encourage movement but with support from you. PLace her on her front but supported to encourage her to reach for items in front of her - such as colourful toys.

Show her pictures and toys and talk about them - but keep the language very simple at a one or 2 word level.

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:42:07

Hi watchtheworldcomealivetonight
I think there is some concern from what you have documented here.Perhaps take this information and go to your GP and ask for a referral to a paediatrician. Also ask school what they have noticed so you can tell the doctor this as well.

lou031205 Wed 12-Nov-08 13:41:52

HI Professor, I wondered if you have any answer for my question, posted on Saturday?

Thanks in advance.

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:39:58

Great question. This is very true that there is huge variability across the UK. parent power is really important. Try and catalogue together some of your journeys through the health/education system- evidence is essential to 'proove' this is a problem
Gather this information and go to the politicians with it. We need common baseline assessments so that children are seen ' holistically' and not in bits which sadly is what happens in some areas of the UK.

expatinscotland Wed 12-Nov-08 13:39:36

DH has dyspraxia, too, RT, enough to have DLA for life for it. He does drive! A manual. He even does it for a living!

Your son can get assistance on his exams as well. For example, DH had a reader for the theory test (he has dysgraphia as well) and extra time on the practical test.

Took him 4 tries to pass, but he did and now has a minibus license.

filz Wed 12-Nov-08 13:38:18

My daughter (9) has hypermobility and moderate -severe learning difficulties. I remember a physio once telling me that hypermobility can cause delays in other areas as the brain has to think about keeping the body more stable before anything else.....I remember she suggested that my daughters feet should always be flat on the floor whilst doing close up work at a desk or table as its takes their mind off their feet! Obviously if they cannot touch the floor then put a book or box underneath their feet

Sorry i know I am not a professor

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:38:09



yes talk to your paed and get her assessed for her attention and concentration
Some children have benefited by using Ritalin and have seen improvement in writing quality on it as well as aiding attention and concentration

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:36:45


Yes I think being so prem has an influence on dyspraxia . There have beenr research studies from Holland showing this.

Driving may be a problem- using an automatic is better. Some times parking and distance perception is a problem as well -- sensors on cars are very helpful. Some adults just need longer to learn so a good instructor is very important ( and patience)- my son took 3 years to learn to drive.

You may want to try Alexander techniques to help with posture. also helping improve core stability- using a swiss ball can be very good , trampolining also may be good.

I dont think fish oils and fainting are linked

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:32:49

thanks for the nice comment about the centre.There is little research at the moment in terms of using supplementation to prevent developmental disorders but a balanced diet, avoiding artificial colourants is important I would say.
encouraging language is important- face to face contact so he can hear and then as he gets older mimic sounds and facial expressions. let him also have different sensory stimuli- place him on a mat and let him feel different textures.
He is young so it is more about 'normal' exposure to his world that is important at this stage

expatinscotland Wed 12-Nov-08 13:30:09

My 5-year-old daughter has DCD.

It's moderate/severe and she has been retained at stage in a nursery with an ASN unit.

Her attention span and impulse control issues give cause for concern.

Is there any precedence for asking her paed if medical treatment will help - e.g., ritalin?

Tried fish oils on her, no real improvement.

She spasms, particularly the hands, when excited.

RTKangaMummy Wed 12-Nov-08 13:29:46

My son is 13 years old and had a DX of Dyspraxia and Hypermobility about 4 years ago

He was born extremely prematurely @ 27 weeks and was on Oxygen for 3 months in NNU ITU

Do you think being so prem has any influence on dyspraxia and hypermobility?

He still can't ride a bike, he did have OT and Physio when they first diagnosed him but he doesn't have either help now

Do you think there will be any difference with things like learning to drive a car? Will he be able to drive a manual car?

Do you have any ideas for improving his posture ~ he has very hunched shoulders and walks looking at the floor

We did try him with fish oils several years ago but then we started to have problems with fainting and so stopped them. Do you think they could be connected?




coppertop Wed 12-Nov-08 13:27:43

Thanks for your help and advice.

ProfessorAmandaKirby Wed 12-Nov-08 13:27:41

Dear Mercy
Thanks for the question
Some of the signs and symptoms you are describing including fussy eating may be linked to developmental issues and it may be worth talking with your health visitor or GP or asking the nursery/school ( if he is going ) if they have noticed any 'unusual ' behaviours also to see if this is consistent or only at home.


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