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Struggling with dyspraxic child!

(10 Posts)
Newlysingleandstuck Mon 01-Oct-12 20:06:10

I am convinced dd is dyspraxic. She has always been incredibly clumsy and still struggles with stairs now at 8.5 (prefers to go down them on her bottom, but in public will put one foot on the stair, then the next one will catch up, then the first foot goes down to the next stair-we went to a slate mine in the hols and the talk had finished before we got to the bottom!) She finds buttons really tough, can only just ride a bike, still can't catch a ball and can't do laces. She was tested at school after her teacher thought that there was something amiss, and because her writing was neatly formed and on the line (she had been doing a one-to-one handwriting lesson for 30 mins three times a week for two years in school!) and could stand on one leg they said she was fine, no need for further investigation.

I can deal with that, it is really annoying and she is having a very rough time in games, but if she isn't so bad then hopefully she will catch up with her peers eventually. However, I REALLY cannot cope with the messiness and forgetfulness! I am constantly tidying up after her, and she has no idea that she is even creating the mess in the first place. Food constantly falls off her plate/down her shirt/is smeared around her mouth. Her room will be an absolute shambles within 5 minutes of me tidying it but she will have no idea how it got like that, or where to begin with tidying it, and she appears incapable of remembering anything whatsoever.

She has just told me that she has got a detention for not doing her homework, and is totally devastated. She is always very keen to please, so even a cross word from a teacher worries away at her. A detention has left her incapable of speaking to me. When I asked why she didn't bring it home she said that she had lost it. She had also "lost" her homework diary, tie and school shoes today. She is totally incapable of remembering that she had been given a sheet or book, within seconds, so won't think to put it in her bag. She sometimes puts it in her school desk, but that looks like it has been the paper recycling place for the entire school, and so won't notice it if she looks in there later on anyway.

I am at my wits end. I am fed up of the teachers telling me that I need to make her more organised, and treating me like some horrendous lax parent. I organise her as much as I can at home, but by the time I pick her up from after school club the rest of the school is locked up, so we cannot go back to her classroom for things. I have back ups of everything, i.e. uniform, pens, coats, shoes, as I know that she will leave things at school, but I cannot have back ups of homework that she forgets to bring home, or misplaces entirely.

Ineedalife Mon 01-Oct-12 20:36:02

Hi newly and welcome to the board.

I can so relate to your story, I have a Dd in yr 5 who has Aspergers and is borderline for dyspraxia. She really struggles to remember things and can only really deal with one instruction at a time.

I think you should go to your GP and ask for a referral to either an Occupational Therapist or a Developmental Paediatrician. Write a list of all the difficulties she has and keep a diary to show how it effects yours and her daily life.

Also make an appointment with the SENCO at school and ask what they can do to help with the homework situation. Maybe they could email it to you? Dd's class do their maths online now which is great.

Dd3 also takes a little note pad to school to jot down any reminders because she finds verbal reminders very difficult.

Mine is exactly the same with food and it does get very wearing at times doesnt it. she constantly ruins white school polo shirts.

Hope some of that helps and try not to worry, you are in good company on this boardgrin

Good lucksmile

Newlysingleandstuck Mon 01-Oct-12 20:45:23

Thank you so much for replying. I am so glad you are so friendly! Getting in touch with regards to homework is such a good idea, I wasn't sure if it sounded pathetic.

The verbal reminders ring a very big bell, am so glad I'm not alone!

We have an appointment with an ed psych as during the dyspraxia testing she was flagged up as having dyslexia, strongly enough for the school to pay for the appointment (yippee!!). Should I list my concerns and raise them with her despite it being a dyslexia referral? Will it blow up spectacularly in my face if she says there is a problem? She specialises in dyspraxia too apparently, so could at least tell me whether I am mad or not!

I went to the gp after the meeting at school, as I wanted her tested for dyspraxia, but they said that they needed a letter from the school, and school said that they had no concerns, so that all aborted spectacularly.

Ineedalife Mon 01-Oct-12 20:58:26

Great news about the Ed Psych appointment and you definitely dont sound pathetic.

I would share all of your concerns with the ed psych especially if she knows about dyspraxia.

At the end of the day you have to go with your gut instinct and no matter how good schools are they dont know your child like you do.

Keep coming on her for advice and supportsmile

Newlysingleandstuck Mon 01-Oct-12 21:25:50

Thank you very very much! You have made me feel so much happier!

auntevil Tue 02-Oct-12 09:56:04

I could have written that post myself about DS1 - and probably DS3!
Definitely speak to Ed Psych about dyspraxia. dyspraxia and dyslexia are closely linked with a high % of those dxed with one, also having the other.
Occupational therapists are good for confirming dyspraxia. If the GP doesn't feel professional enough to refer from your concerns, a lot of PCTs let parents refer directly. Our PCT has forms online that can be completed.
It might also be worthwhile going on the Dyspraxia foundation's website and looking at their checklist of symptoms. There may be some on there that you had not considered to be dyspraxia that apply - and will be worth mentioning to the EP

bochead Tue 02-Oct-12 10:31:14

The changes since DS's dyspraxic issues have been formally identified and the VERY simple excercises we now do daily to help him have made such a difference to his quality of life in just 4 months that I can't help but encourage you to go back to the stupid GP and DEMAND a referral to a knowledgable OT.

DS's dyslexia is effectively caused by his dyspraxia - I'll try and explain how. Basically his fine eye movements are as out of sync as his other movement and co-ordination skills. His eyes don't co-ordinate properly to track the words across the page properly, just as his hand-eye don't co-ordinate enough to let him tie his shoe laces. The eye co-ordination required for reading is one of the last fine motor skills to develop so it's no wonder he has major issues with it.

So simply put - by going back to basics and doing some physical therapy to then gradually build th his gross and fine motor skills - moving up the developmental scale we'll eventually get to a point where he has the foundations to do a very simple computerised visual tracking programme for 6 months or so. After that low and behold the visual issues that cause his dyslexia will be sorted and he'll be able to read and write same as his peers.

DS is a complex case (he has ASD + auditory issues too) so for us we are looking at a couple of years of hard work. There are children around who can be effectively helped in 6-12 months - those who are "just" dyspraxic.

Note - I'm not saying cured, or anything like that as the brain is wired the way it's wired iykwim. (I'm dyslexic and can't help wishing today's therapies had been around when I was a child though)

However 4 months ago DS couldn't use cutlery, dress himself, read at all etc now we can use cutlery, do up buttons and zips, catch a bean bag occasionally. He's moved from P levels to level 1b for writing. He's about the same age. I'm really impressed with how far he's come in such a short space of time (as well as blummin frustrated this wasn't picked up in nursery!)

Sadly neither the OT, not the BO are available on the NHS in my locale angry We are working with the Behavioral Optemetrist while I hunt/save for an OT with the appropriate skills. If you have the funds then an assessment by a decent developmental OT might be a really worthwhile investment - you can feed the results back to the school EP and the ijeet GP.

My Mum is over the moon as dyslexia runs in the family - to the extent she trained as a dyslexia association tutor when we were kids! No amount of specialist tuition would have helped DS to learn to read and write, without the physical therapy to address the underlying issues. (Lord knows we'd tried) With it we are beginning to have great hopes that with a little time and effort he'll be able to learn to read/spell as well as his peers and to write a legible hand.

Ineedalife Tue 02-Oct-12 11:23:09

I have had similar results with BO with Dd2, who at 7 could barely read and couldnt copy at all due to her poor eye tracking, she did a computer based course and had coloured lenses in her glasses for a couple of years.

By the time she went to secondary her reading was pretty good and her writing was fine, she still struggles with spelling and does find reading hard work but she has coped well with GCSE's and is now doing a level 3 course at college.

It is a shame that it is not available on the NHS although i did read somewhere the other day that someone in London is doing BO on the NHS.

We did get some funding for Dd3 to have coloured lenses to help with her visual perception issues, the optician said he could apply for funding because of her ASD diagnosis, not sure how that works TBHhmm

Glad you are feeling a bit happiersmile

newlife4us Tue 02-Oct-12 11:50:10

I completely sympathise with you having a dyspraxic DD just having entered year 6.

The ED Psych should be able to devise strategies for both the school and you at home to help with the short term memory issues. DD finally saw an Ed Psych at the beginning of her year 4, having moved from a different area. I'm sure that you are probably aware of some strategies, but here are some that we've introduced with some major improvement:

visual timetables in the house in her room and downstairs help with getting dressed and getting ready for school;
simple exercises doing find wally, spot the difference, word searches (do the same puzzle over again for a few days to build up a working memory and then move onto a new one;
10 second rule - short simple instruction - wait 10 seconds, repeat the instruction, wait 10 seconds then rephrase the instruction e.g "pencil down" - wait "pencil down", "down pencil"

I also set up a folder system with DD's teacher - all homework, letters of communication etc was put in a folder by her teacher and handed directly to me at the end of the school day. I then handed it back to the teacher in the morning. The teacher also read what she had written in her homework diary to check it had been recorded correctly. Prior to this she would have simply copied anything from the white board such as "put computers away". This really helped DD as it took the stress away from her not being able to do this for herself. It didn't cost the school anything to implement.

I would also press for a further OT appointment - DD's first at age 6 received the same result as yours - her finer motor skills were OK and she managed to stand on one leg (after several attempts for the required time). She had a further one last year putting her on 2nd percentile for motor skills and co-ordination and 9th percentile for manual dexterity. We now do daily OT exercises (for about 5 minutes). She also has a "moveit" cushion at school. If you can find a child yoga class locally to you, I would thoroughly recommend it as this really helped DD's core strength and co-ordination. (I haven't been able to find one in our new area).


My DD has made significant improvement over the past year - I'm not sure how much is age and how much is the strategies. However, I'm still not sure that she would cope in a mainstream secondary and it can still be incredibly frustrating at times.

Good luck with everything.

porridgelover Tue 02-Oct-12 12:23:17

newly I think you have had excellent advice upthread but just to add....

50%+ co-mobidity of dyslexia and dyspraxia...if she is being referred to the EP for one then they should (in theory) catch the other. I would have no hesitation in bringing up your concerns with the EP.
Standing on one leg and good (practiced skill) writing does not exclude Dyspraxia. In fact, that is one of the issues with Dyspraxia; a child can hyper-practice and master a skill in one environment but unlike other kids, those skills are not generalised.
If anything, the issues with stairs, late bike-riding, laces and most especially the difficulties with self-organisation/registering messiness trumpet Dyspraxia to me.

As bochead says, the movement/timing component is theorised to be one of the 'causes' of often a focused programme of movement therapy will improve both the Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia is properly disgnosed by a combination of Psychology assessment and OT. The first to exclude any learning disabilities (and usually highlights higher verbal skills than performance skills) and the second to assess gross and fine motor skills relative to peers.
Dyspraxia is often associated with Sensory Processing difficulties.

The Dyspraxia Association is a useful resource.
Madeleine Portwood is a Psychologist who has done extensive work on Dyspraxia and her books are usually in your local library.

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