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Dyspraxia - Please advise

(32 Posts)
thatsenough Wed 01-Dec-10 09:40:35

DS is year 1 (5.10) and has struggled from pre-school with his pencil grip. Anything that involves writing more than a few words for homework is generally a nightmare, although he is happy to do numeracy homework and as his reading seems to be good (New Way Green level - not sure how this compares to ORT)and he brings a new book home at least 3 times a week.

For a while we have been thinking he may have dyspraxia, in addition to the pencil grip problem, his general co-ordination and upper body strength is quite poor and he is prone to (very) emotional outbursts over nothing. He is generally very caring to his two younger brothers, but does get frustrated when things don't go his way.

He attends a small prep school (class size 11) who have been great at playing down any problems and his recent exam results of 87% in English and 83% in Maths were about average. BUT he is starting to notice the difference himself and is now refusing to go to his tennis lessons because "he is not very good at it", he has also said he doesn't want to continue swimming, but is happy with his small ski group.

So after a week of having a far more emotional little boy than normal we have parents evening tonight - Do I bring any of this up with his teacher? Or am I reading too much into the situation?

My DH says that I spend far too much time worrying about it, whereas I think he is burying his head in the sand!

Appologies if I have posted in the wrong section, but I am new to Mumsnet.

pointissima Wed 01-Dec-10 09:48:38

Definitely bring it up. Dyspraxic ds started to lose confidence in year 2 and was seriously unhappy for a year or so until we got him diagnosed. Insist on a referral to an ed psych. If the school won't do it and you can afford it ask for the name and pay for an assessment.

rabbitstew Wed 01-Dec-10 10:01:59

It sounds to me as though you have something, there - he is certainly having physical difficulties which are impacting on his confidence and self esteem. Maybe he needs a better focus (eg physio and OT) on the physical reasons for his problems - the possible low muscle tone and/or low muscular strength in parts of his body. If those areas can be focused on with specific exercises, this might impact on his ability to play tennis, or swim, which in turn might give him enough confidence to perservere and then realise that he is not irredeemably hopeless at physical things! Once he realises that, you need to keep working on him to come to understand that you don't have to be the best at anything, but it is important for your own general happiness to always do your best - ie your best is good enough, but avoiding something difficult makes you feel bad about yourself. Whether in addition your ds has a specific learning disability, like dyspraxia, remains to be seen, but you won't know if you don't ask for professional advice and assessment.

ie I agree with you that your dh may be burying his head in the sand and not understanding the impact on your ds of just accepting that he is no good at something so might as well just give up altogether.

thatsenough Wed 01-Dec-10 10:23:31

pointissima Thank you, I will definitely discuss tonight now. I can really only see things getting worse as he moves into yr 2 and it becomes more obvious with him not being picked for the sports teams etc.

I'll also speak to DH about an assessment if the school aren't able to help.

*rabbitstew" we really do have to work on "best is good enough" issue as DS hates to lose. His confidence has taken a nose dive in the last few weeks and he wants constant reassurance that we will always be there - At swimming I had to promise to "Watch every stroke" before he would get in the water, whereas I would normally go for a coffee and pick up at the end.

I just want my happy little boy back and feel totally inadequate that I can't help.

Tinuviel Wed 01-Dec-10 11:05:06

DS1 is 13 and we have just started the process of diagnosis. I have known that something wasn't quite right since he was small but as we home ed, it's been manageable. However, it is now becoming an issue as he will need extra time in GCSEs and other adults aren't aware of the extent of his problems.

I found this list; printed it; and ticked/annotated the relevant points. It was really helpful in clarifying what the issues were and gave our GP a starting point. He referred us to the wrong place but did his best!

www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/services/gu_symptom s.php

My nephew had v similar problems and was at private school. They were worse than useless and basically said that they didn't cater for SEN and made no allowances at all! He left and state schools seemed to cope much better.

ANTagony Wed 01-Dec-10 11:34:55

My DS1 (yr 2 just 7) has Dyspraxia and is ASD. He has worked with an occupational therapist and there were various recommendations made to help with his fine and gross motor skills. Some people appear to naturally just have much lower muscle tone and it just takes them more work to achieve it.

For my sons fine skills and writing we were encouraged to use a writing slope so that his posture is better whilst writing (we don't push doing lots of writing because we don't want to make it an issue). For play lots of fine skill games like lego and playdough - which are good for building up finger strength. The one that has made the biggest difference (and wasn't on the OT list) on his fine skills and hand eye coordination is lego starwars for the PS2 (also available for the WII and Xbox etc). I've never been a big fan of computer games but its like his fingers doing a half hour plus intensive workout (that he enjoys).

For gross skills like with your son he was more aware of being different to his peer group so we've focused on activities that he can do more independently whilst his muscle tone improves. These include horse ridding, using the trampoline, games like shark (where you throw scatter cushions on the floor and have to get from the sofa to a chair whilst not touching the ground, slowly removing the cushions to make it more of a challenge). We also encourage him on his bike, to go on walks with us and the dog as much as possible.

You have to be really persistent to get help especially in the current economic climate of cut backs. If possible get referrals via the school SENCO and your GP. Your GP should be able to refer you to a community paediatrician who will then do the referral on letters to occupational health and physio therapy. The SENCO should hopefully refer to the educational psycologist who will hopefully repeat the referrals.

Good luck with it all - unfortunately we all have to fight to get the best and resources are so stretched unless you ask you're unlikely to get.

harvalp Wed 01-Dec-10 12:45:57

Good grief. Poor little chap. Skiing lessons, tennis lessons, swimming lessons. And school. He's only 5, let him relax.

rabbitstew Wed 01-Dec-10 13:23:12

harvalp, I'm not convinced that is sensible advice if thatsenough's ds has problems with low muscle tone - in fact, it could be the precise opposite of what he should do, if it may result in him having lifelong problems. You are making the assumption he is a perfectly normal little boy whose mother is being too pushy, rather than, possibly, someone who is trying to find enjoyable ways to encourage her ds to exercise because she recognises that he has problems that maybe could be helped by learning to use his body MORE rather than less. In other words, if he has dyspraxia, she most certainly will not be told to let the poor boy give up and relax, because he will NOT grow out of it that way.

Take it from someone who had to teach her ds how to roll over, get to sitting, bottom shuffle, crawl, pull to stand and walk because of his hypotonia and hypermobility.... and who is now having to teach him how to understand other peoples' feelings. Some children need to be taught what other children learn by growing up.

rabbitstew Wed 01-Dec-10 13:24:57

(ps I'm not saying that you are actually wrong, just that the way you said it sounded a tiny bit uncharitable).

zapostrophe Wed 01-Dec-10 14:11:23

Message withdrawn

rabbitstew Wed 01-Dec-10 14:18:32

zapostrophe - presumably, since you now know you are dyspraxic, you would have appreciated that knowledge whilst you were at school?????

ps if you liked judo and rowing, it sounds like you might not have had low muscle tone - or if you did, you found the right exercises to cure it!

Swimming is supposed to be fantastic for low muscle tone and also for dyspraxics, because of its repetitivity, so it is interesting thatsenough's ds wants to give up on it. That sounds definitely like a self-esteem issue which needs dealing with sympathetically.

rabbitstew Wed 01-Dec-10 14:19:11

(sorry, don't mean "cure" as you can't cure low muscle tone, just build up enough muscular strength to couteract its effects).

alana39 Wed 01-Dec-10 14:35:26

thatsenough apologies in advance for a long post!

My son is year 1 and was diagnosed with dyspraxia towards the end of reception - a process started off by the teachers who had noticed the differences in his physical ability compared to other children, and quite advanced reading ability.

Anyway - I spoke to the GP who referred us for an OT assessments. I know some people see educational psychologists and not sure what they do exactly, but the OT was fantastic.

She diagnosed him after a 2 hour session with a battery of tests (which he thought were games), although he also had to see a paediatrician to confirm there were no underlying medical reasons for his problems.

She then gave him several 1 hour one-to-one sensory motor therapy sessions, which taught us things we can continue to do at home. Again, this all feels like playing to him, and doesn't require lots of equipment. Even just refusing to push him on a swing in the park so he has to use the climbing frames and slides is part of it!

Finally, she saw him twice in school, gave the teachers 10 minute a day things for him to do (mixture of fine and gross motor skills work, carried out by teaching assistants and this is all managed in a state primary which fairly limited resources).

He is much happier, we've been very happy with the quick improvements - and we all know there are certain things he will always struggle with, but it's been so encouraging seeing how quickly things can improve with a bit of work.

If school won't help, talk to your GP. Services will vary with area (we're in Hillingdon, London, where there is a multi-disciplinary child development centre, and I have no idea if we're just lucky) but there may be something available to you without having to go privately as a first option.

expatinscotland Wed 01-Dec-10 14:36:41

My daughter is dyspraxic. Now she is 7, she is also diagnosed dyslexic and dysgraphic.

PLEASE bring it up and do not let it lie!

People with dyspraxia need support, it's not the end of the world, even the actor Daniel Radcliffe has it.

harvalp Wed 01-Dec-10 14:38:40

Except, rabbitstew, that he hasn't been diagnosed with dyspraxia. This is simply a suggestion of the dps.

Pootles2010 Wed 01-Dec-10 14:40:33

I have it as well Zapostrophe - your post could have been written by me with regards to hating ball sports, but I was diagnosed -not that that made any difference. I did go to some classes that made bugger all difference, apart from to make me feel worse - they helpfully called it 'clumsy clinic'.

expatinscotland Wed 01-Dec-10 14:42:41

Swimming is great, but it can take a dyspraxic more time to learn. DD1 needs an assistant at her swimming lessons.

But she is getting there.

Many dyspraxics still have low muscle tone despite being able to learn and do sports.

It's not 'cured'. Low muscle tone means a dyspraxic often tires more quickly than someone without the disorder.

rabbitstew Wed 01-Dec-10 17:23:44

harvalp - the point is, her ds won't get a diagnosis whether he needs one or not unless she asks someone who knows about it whether he needs one... If she is genuinely worried, she should. It's not as if she'll get very far if nobody agrees with her, or if the experts think it is too early to say. In fact, without the school's support, she probably won't get very far.

Your post suggests she is being a bit neurotic and pushing her child too much. Which implies that you think she shouldn't worry when he is only 5. Which implies you know more about her child than she does, which is very insensitive and possibly wrong.

rabbitstew Wed 01-Dec-10 17:25:46

So, in conclusion, in answer to her actual question, yes she should bring up her concerns with the teacher, rather than assume everything is OK and stop sending her 5-year old to swimming and tennis lessons.

thatsenough Wed 01-Dec-10 17:34:25

Thank you for all your input.

Tinuviel The list is really useful. The 3-5 year list is very familiar to DSs general behaiviour. I will be asking DH to have a look later.

ANTagony DS loves to play with lego, although he usually gets me to do the fiddly bits. He likes the Wii too, when I remember to get it out. We do quite a lot of walking with the dogs and mountain biking with DH is popular whatever the weather. I'll try and find out more aboout using a writing slope and if it will be any use to him. His teacher seemed quite keen to help in anyway possible when I spoke to her earlier.

harvalp Everything we do with DS1 is to help develop the skills that come naturally to most.

We started Tots Tennis two years ago, to help with general strength and co-ordination; at that level it was mostly running, jumping and games. Now he has moved to mini-red it is more about playing an actual game which is probably why the problems have started.

Swimming is such an important skill, that it is the one thing I insist on.

Skiing is something we wanted him to do short-term to get ready for a holiday last year, but he loves it (and rather good at it too) and I haven't the heart to stop it at the moment.

I am far from a pushy parent and would never insist that he did any sport, but equally I want DS to try things and find something that he can enjoy. My biggest concern is if I can afford to offer the same opportunities to my other two DCs if they want to do the same.

alana39 the assessment process is really helpful, as I am the type of person who likes to be prepared in advance and have an idea of what I might be up against.

So, moving on I have been to Parents Evening. In general his teacher is very pleased with him and his general progress, but did say that just watching him write is tiring as he has to put so much effort in to it. He is doing well with his reading and comprehension, but we need to work more on story writing. Our school don't do SATs, but she does assess in Maths for her own use and he is 1a (I now have to find out what that means). I asked about dyspraxia, she agreed that it could be a possibility and will find out if there is anything the school can do to help.

Thank you again for all your help - A lovely welcome to Mumsnet.

charlieliz Wed 01-Dec-10 17:52:42

As far as Dyspraxics swimming goes -my son is amazing at butterfly and breaststroke as they are symmetrical strokes and struggles more with the crawls as they are not. So keep up the swimming but maybe focus on those strokes 1st -mine was only 6 when he started butterfly.

mrz Wed 01-Dec-10 17:57:35

We use Madeleine Portwood's Developmental Dyspraxia screening and all identified children have access to her programme
www.mentisxl.org/mportwood.asp

zapostrophe Wed 01-Dec-10 19:55:41

Message withdrawn

expatinscotland Wed 01-Dec-10 20:14:39

Yy, we see women as an important life skill rather than as sport per se.

expatinscotland Wed 01-Dec-10 20:17:37

DD1 is well aware that she is dyspraxic. She's aware of this being the reason she often has more difficulty with some things than other people.

And knowing this has helped her confidence a lot already (she is 7).

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