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Educational psychologist, dyspraxia - what can I expect/ hope for?

(24 Posts)
tatt Thu 06-Nov-08 15:21:40

For many years I have suspected my daughter of being dyspraxic but have always been told that there was no point in seeking help because they were doing well at school. Finally I have had enough of this and have persuaded the school to have them assessed. Am I just going to be told again that because their grades are fine there is nothing that will help?

The background to this is that they have always had problems with motor skills - using scissors at play group, couldn't do buttons or laces, last one in class to ride a bike. We have done clothing that pulled on, velcro shoes and stabilisers on the bike. At a small primary team games weren't a major issue. They are now at secondary and have problems socially because they aren't interested in the things the other childen care about. As a result their self esteem suffers and they aren't confident in class. Their friends are mainly in the year below and I suspect at least one of those - the best friend - is also dyspraxic.
BUT - they are good at art, play the piano and can organise their work on time. They are projected to get A or A* grades at GSCE.

What I am worried about is applying to university and putting up a poor show at interview. I'd like some advice/help in how to boost their confidence. Some recognition at school that life is that little bit harder for them so they may need a bit of extra encouragement wouldn't go amiss.

bigTillyMint Fri 07-Nov-08 10:57:18

If you are worried and the school won't do anything, it might be worth seeking outside advice / diagnosis. Hopefully the specialist would be able to give some strategies too. I think it might be an occupational therapist?

Anna8888 Fri 07-Nov-08 11:01:57

I think you are right to try to get some objective outside assessment of your daughters' skills. Is an educational psychologist the right person? In some countries an occupational therapist would have the necessary skillset to assess for motor skill development.

Niecie Fri 07-Nov-08 11:04:30

An ed psych won't be able to dx dyspraxia, you will need a GP referral to an occupational therapist although more likely it will be a paediatrician who will refer you on if they thought there was a problem.

All therapy will come from the OT.

I have a DS who has AS and dyspraxia and whilst I couldn't possibily comment on your DD, I would be surprised if she had a real problem if she is good at art, the piano and organising themselves.

The alarm bells for me come from the social problems.

Hassled Fri 07-Nov-08 11:10:36

I think you have enough valid concerns that an Ed Psych assessment is a good idea - but agree that the good at art thing in particular doesn't suggest that fine motor skills are affected, which is usually the case with Dyspraxia (I want to say always the case, but am being cautious).

Dyspraxia is a medical condition, so diagnosis won't actually come from EdPsych or OT - has to be a medic. My DS2's diagnosis certainly did wonders for his self-esteem - finally a bit of paper that proved that none of his problems were his fault.

lazymumofteenagesons Fri 07-Nov-08 18:04:07

My son is dyspraxic and was diagnosed by an OT when he was 5. The type of physical issues you are talking about are associated with dyspraxia but should not be causing such a big problem at school. After all alot of kids are no good at sport.

Usually fine motor skills are affected which lead to problems with handwriting etc. Playing the piano would not be easy. Organisational skills are also lacking.

However I feel that inability to interact with their peers and the social problems need looking into, but I don't think these are associated with dyspraxia unless caused by speech problems.

tatt Fri 07-Nov-08 18:42:00

when she started playing piano the teacher consistently expected more from her than she could manage because her sight reading was far in advance of her ability to play. She is never going to be a concert pianist. Still she can play.

We've had problems with handwriting - in fact she still holds a pen in a very peculiar fashion. However she can write reasonably quickly so again we were told not a problem. I forgot to mention the problems using cutlery, but again she's mastered that know, just rather later than most.

Social problems are common in dyspraxic teenagers, it's one of the things on the Dyspraxia Foundation checklist.

Possibly the ed psych isn't the right person but don't know where else to look for help. Able children develop coping strategies for dyspraxia, but sometimes you run out of strategies.

chocolateteapot Fri 07-Nov-08 18:51:17

Yes I think it would be a good idea to get some help and would suggest going to your GP and see who they would suggest referring your DD to as I think it can differ a bit from region to region. My DD was diagnosed by the OT at the co-ordination clinic at our local hospital which is under the control of a paediatrician though DD has never seen him.

I think that a lot of the problems associated with dyspraxia when young do improve with age so can see that someone with dyspraxia could be good at art by their teens. DD is managing at 9 to be able to cope with organizing her work at school and manages to move from classroom to classroom (middle school so different set up to primary)She can play the piano, though not brilliantly.

It's the social problems though which I think could do with help as you said. DD is getting there socially but it has been a struggle and has required a lot of input from me and explaining about behaviour and other people's feelings. So I think definitely go ahead and try to get her seen though have no experience of help available for teenagers so can't offer any other suggestions.

Niecie Fri 07-Nov-08 22:24:51

We got referred for suspected AS but I believe that the process is the same for all children who need a dx for various behavioural issues. There are so much of an overlap with many of these conditions.

Here, you get the GP to refer you to the patch team. The first step is to see an paediatrician who then decides which other professional you need to see. So for my DS it was the OT, SALT (verbal dyspraxia) clinical psych and he also had his hearing tested.

Once you have seen everybody you need to see they all get together and have a meeting to decide on a DX.

Thats the theory - DS has a muddled dx but he is getting the OT and SALT help he needs so I suppose it doesn't matter what label is slapped on him.

Your first step needs to be to see the GP imo and get a referral. Forget the Ed psych - DS has never seen one and there has been no need to see one.

tatt Fri 07-Nov-08 22:42:21

can't back out of seeing the ed psych now. Anyway I am concerned about the school because I don't think they make any allowance for dyspraxics at all. I'd like to see e.g time to finish design & tech work outside class. Also wasn't impressed by the fitness tests they do.

What could an OT help with now? Speech therapy would be restricted to those with greater needs, I guess.

chocolateteapot Sat 08-Nov-08 09:17:53

I'm a bit out of my depth to be honest tatt as I've only experience with DD who is now nearly 10, so not sure what an OT could help with now, but they are trained to help in an age appropriate way, so there may well be something they could help. Our OT worked in a team with a physio and looked at the things that her peers would be doing at that time where she would struggle and worked on them. eg. they helped her learn to skip and play hopskotch to help her in the playground as well as the practical things of cutlery, knots, pencil grip etc.

I guess you should go through with the EP appointment and hopefully they might be able to come up with either another referral or some recommendations to the school for things like extra time. As I said as DD isn't that age I don't really know what would be appropriate but I bet there are a fair few things that a good OT could suggest and it maybe that the EP can come up with some. Unfortunately in my experience, the social skills side of things seems to fall in a sodding great hole between the professions, I have failed miserably to find anyone to help with this and have had to try to do it on my own. And we ended up forking out for private SALT as the NHS one was a bit of a diasaster.

needmorecoffee Sat 08-Nov-08 09:28:57

I don't know that getting the diagnosis helps to be honest. ds2 13 got his a few weeks back but there's no help. The Senco said they only give help to the worse 25% but he will get extra time in exams - his handwriting is appalling.

tatt Sat 08-Nov-08 11:44:24

thank you for trying. I'd be willing to pay for help if I knew anyone who might be able to help. I'm not expecting much help from the ed psych after reading comments on here but perhaps they wil be able to suggest something.

Has your dd's pencil grip improved, cholateteapot, because that's something we haven't been able to do anything about.

chocolateteapot Sat 08-Nov-08 12:16:48

Well it isn't stunning but has improved a bit. She has been hugely resistant to practising handwriting and as a result was forming her letters in all kinds of weird ways. She has now though become a little self conscious about her writing and did the other day sit down and practice with me for the first time ever and it has helped her.

She is very lucky in that she will be allowed to use a lap top if it is felt that it becomes necessary.

I do personally think a diagnosis is important from the point of view of self image, just to know what the reason is that you struggle with some things is important. I think sometimes children with undiagnosed dyspraxia or dyslexia feel they are "stupid" which really doesn't help their self confidence.

squeakypop Sat 08-Nov-08 13:15:04

We have couple of dyspraxic pupils in school, and what it means for them is that they get to use a laptop in examinations.

This is easily assessed by the inhouse SEN department who can determine their writing speed. If it is below a certain number of words in the timeframe, they can apply to the exam board to use laptops.

It does not need outside assessment from a specialist. It would be different it they were at the level of requiring Occupational Therapist help, but they are not.

lazymumofteenagesons Sat 08-Nov-08 13:29:14

Don't all jump down my throat now. But these girls are doing exceptionally well at school and all their previous motor skills problems seem to have been overcome, even though through sheer hard work.

For some reason they are not interacting with their peer group very well. But you seem worried that this will affect university interviews. These days, i think but can't be sure, that only Oxford and Cambridge and medical schools interview, so I don't think you need to be that worried.

I am not sure there is a problem here at all.

[waits to be laid into face]

madlentileater Sat 08-Nov-08 13:31:00

Hi
ds4 has dx of dyspraxia, was diagnosed by paed., referred to OT/physios, had support while at primary but has now been 'signed off' by them. Because of the DP he has a statement, which has reulted in laptop for use in school, support in classroom, will mean extra time in exams and some modifications in tech subjects etc.
I think any social problems associated with dp are 'indirect', that is to do wirth poor sefl esteem etc resulting from poor performance.
Getting the statement was key, and we are very pleased with support in place at secondary school. I know of teenagers who have received late diagnosis, poss like your dd they have found ways of compensating. there is no way of compensating for DS's handwriting! it is like that of a 6 yr old. And that is an improvement!

Niecie Sat 08-Nov-08 18:01:17

I must admit that whilst I wouldn't say not to bother getting proper DX just so you know for sure, in our area you don't actually get any help after Primary age. The rationale is that the children would have been taught coping strategies by that time and also because dyspraxia isn't such an issue after that age. After all as we get older we just aren't as physical as small children.

The reality may be that you are getting a DX just to be allowed to have a laptop in exams (although DS has been told he could have a scribe for his KS2 Sats which makes more sense as he is not going to be a competent typist by the time he is 10 either.)

However, I must admit I have to agree with mumoflazyteenagesons I don't actually think they have a problem. My DS couldn't have developed coping strategies by himself - he simply doesn't have the coordination and physical strength to work it out for himself and he is by no means stupid. He has to be talked through and shown everything a lot times before he gets it. I don't actually think they sound any different from a lot of academically capable, intelligent girls. They aren't great all-rounders but how many of us are?

tatt Sat 08-Nov-08 20:33:00

I guess it depends on your definition of problem. I'm rather concerned about finishing art work in the exam - course grades are better than exam grades as they didn't finish in the exam. If your child is forecast to get A and A* grades in every subject then you do think about Oxford/ Cambridge. Dyspraxics tend to be better in small groups and so that style of learning may be better for them. We all want our children to achieve what they are capable of doing and not to be held back.

We did work pretty hard on physical skills, even doing our own speech exercises. We also use a daily fish oil supplement. The lack of confidence that goes with not being able to speak well is harder to overcome than the physical issues - which seem to be something like a 2 year delay rather than an inability to manage.

chocolateteapot Sun 09-Nov-08 07:14:39

Are you saying that there is still a speech problem ? If so I definitely agree that they need some help with that. We found a really good private speech therapist and she was worth every penny. DD's speech improved loads and it has increased her confidence a lot .

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 10-Nov-08 12:06:01

If there is still a speech problem, then this can be dealt with at any age and I also definitely agree that they should get help with that. For extra time in exams or use of a lap top I believe that the SENCo at school has the authority to allow this, but not 100% sure. However you may not need a full Ed. Psych report for this. Make enquiries about a private consultation and report which just covers the exam issue, it might be cheaper.

tatt Fri 28-Nov-08 16:20:19

The ed psych wasn't much use, although they did help me straighten out my thoughts and why I dislike the way the school handles things.

chocolateteapot I've picked up a few things recently from books and from the parent of another dyspraxic child (now off at university) - one is the suggestion that a sport where they can compete against themselves will help. The other parent's son did fencing, my child is doing archery. They have a very kind teacher and its not a club so not pressurised. Secondly the suggestion that the Alexander Technique may help with posture - so I'm looking into that. Thirdly encouraging them to socialise outside school with a wider age range perhaps at guides.

I'm still considering whether to ask to see an OT as they might help with things like cooking (especially using a peeler!) and perhaps driving skills. We're already taking every opportunity to get our child behind the wheel of a vehicle whether it's a Legoland driving license, a go cart or a visit to Diggerland. Anything so they acquire some confidence before getting in a real car.

Mendip Wed 05-Jan-11 11:10:03

Get a diagnosis! We are in the process of doing this for our 17 year old daughter who has always done well but not up to her potential. We have always known that something is wrong but have been pooh poohed because of her intelligence. She did well at GCSE but not as well as she could have done.
However, the change to A level has brought the dyspraxia issues to the fore - so now we're on the case. She is going to The Dysovery Centre in Newport. They have said they get people of all ages coming for assessment, often undergrads at top unis when the 'coping mechanisms' finally run out of steam. Our daughter has opened up to us now about the exhaustion she feels having to work in a way which does not suit her brain. I really regret leaving it this long.

Tinuviel Wed 05-Jan-11 14:01:38

We are just starting the process of getting a diagnosis for DS1 (13). My main reason is to get him extra time in exams as we home educate and therefore find ways of coping with stuff at home. However, he still can't ride a bike or swim particularly well. Handwriting isn't that slow but is heavy and very jerky. He seems to need more time to process his thoughts and clarify them.

We went to our GP, who asked me to produce a list of concerns. This was passed on to CAMHS (which was the wrong place!) who have referred us to Community Paediatrics and OT. First appointment with Comm Paeds is this week but OT have a waiting list of 17 weeks!

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