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5 yo Dyspraxic DS, what might be done to actually HELP him at school?

23 replies

HonoriaGlossop · 24/10/2007 20:49

Just wondered if anyone else might have experience similar to ours; ds has just been assessed by an Ed Psych who has very clearly said to us and in his report that ds has very significant hand/eye co-ordination problems and very significant fine and gross motor skills problems; he has told us to pursue a diagnosis of dyspraxia which we are now doing via GP.

The thing is, his report also shows that ds is very bright. He says things like 'shows very considerable ability' 'is a very able boy' 'acheiving very well above average' (obviously not in all areas!!) That's great and I feel SO happy for my poor little boy who is such a waif at school and can't keep up out in the playground, kicking balls, writing, drawing; there are so many areas where he has struggled so very hard and it is great to hear that actually his understanding is really good;

I just wonder what school could actually DO to help him bring out his intelligence and abilities; it's so much about writing, drawing, all the stuff that he is so delayed in. How can they actually tap into his intelligence and let him acheive when he clearly can't do this by the normal means of output? Has anyone got experience of this?

I so want to help ds, who tries SO hard it makes me want to weep!


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Hassled · 24/10/2007 20:57

My DS2 was diagnosed at 6 and is now 9. Like your son, very bright but held up by handwriting and following sequences of verbal instructions. We've had good and bad experiences at school but he has an Individual Education Plan and gets extra time to complete work (given the practicalities of this, it's usually at home), and does a lot of literacy work on the classroom computer - on the basis that his handwriting will never be up to much, he's encouraged to develop typing skills. At 5, the ball-kicking stuff did bother him but it doesn't seem to anymore - getting that formal diagnosis did help a lot in terms of self-esteem and accepting that his problems weren't his fault. He still has many social issues - there is an overlap between dyspraxia and AS. There's a very good book by Madeleine Portman called Developmental Dyspraxia which covers school assistance etc. Good luck.

MaeWhooooohest · 24/10/2007 21:02

My younger brother is dyspraxic (he is now 22). Not sure when he had the diagnosis, so unsure what support he got a primary school. I do know that he was having regular physio outside school and later went to a group specially for dyspraxic children. Practical things that my mum did were to get him things like handhuggers pens (in fact I think he still uses them) also to make school clothing easy to take on/off. At secondary school he had loads of support particularly around exams - had extra time or scribe etc. University were good too - he graduated last year with 1st in Politics!

I know this is not direct experience, but wanted to bump for you. HTH and that you get the support that DS needs

HonoriaGlossop · 24/10/2007 21:20

Thank you so much - that's what we're hoping, Hassled, that DS knowing that there's a problem with his 'muscles' is what makes the other kids able to write, etc, will help him with his self esteem and confidence. I will definitely get that book, thank you so much for the recommendation. That's great to hear as well that your ds has been able to do lots of literacy stuff on the computer; not so great that he has to complete stuff at home, but at least it's extra time I suppose! I don't quite know when else I thought ds might complete stuff!! Just do like him to have home and school seperate, really....

And that's so great to hear about your brother Mae, how well he has done! And good to hear about scribes being allowed and extra time in secondary exams; this is what we've been hoping, that this 'label' will be able to access him help all through school.

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HonoriaGlossop · 24/10/2007 21:22

oops confusing first sentence, think you can probably gather what I mean; the problem with his 'muscles' is what makes the other kids MORE able than him to write, etc is what I was getting at.

Am full of cold, gone all stupid

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Hassled · 25/10/2007 10:50

This is the book I meant - I got the surname wrong. It has been really useful. If you scroll through threads on the Special Educational Needs board here there is usually a fair bit about Dyspraxia. I agree about keeping the home/school stuff separate, and I've tried to limit the bringing stuff home. There are other times at school - e.g. during registration DS2 is allowed to finish off things. He also had a scribe for Yr4 SATS, which was a great help. Persist with that diagnosis - it took us a while with the Occ Therapy saying he couldn't be Dyspraxic if the Paediatrician hadn't said so, and the Paediatrician saying it needed to come from the Occ Therapists, but it was so worth it.

Hassled · 25/10/2007 11:16

Sorry - I'm on a roll here now.
There is another book that might help your son with the "It's not my fault" issues:
My Friend Has Dyspraxia" by Nicola Edwards. It's probably aimed at slightly older than 5 but does explain Dyspraxia quite simply.

HonoriaGlossop · 25/10/2007 16:11

Oh thanks Hassled! i will definitely get the books, and I will check the SEN boards on here - not thought of going there before but certainly will now.

Funnily enough I did wonder about the process from here on in; DS teacher and the Ed Psych have both been so positive that he has it, and the Ed Psych was basically telling us to pursue a diagnosis of it asap; but i had wondered if the system was going to slip us up at some point.....I will speak to the GP tomorrow about his thoughts on who's best to refer to......

thanks again for your help, it really is appreciated.

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Rivvy · 26/10/2007 21:37


My daughter's got DCD, different to Dyspraxia but similar!

Her school does a programme called 'jump ahead'. She started it this term (year 1) and really enjoys it. She has learnt to skip in the last few weeks and her confidence has really improved.

Here's a link, hope it works if not google jump ahead and west sussex
jump ahead


HonoriaGlossop · 26/10/2007 21:45

Rivvy, thank you so much for that; that really does look absolutely perfect for ds. And it's great to hear your dd's confidence has improved, good for her!

We're now waiting to see a paed for ds, I'm strangely nervous! It's just seeming SO clear to us that he does have dyspraxia and I'm actually quite nervous that a paed might just dismiss us with no diagnosis and thus no help for poor little ds! There's no reason that should happen I know, as his difficulties are clear and the Ed Psych was very clear about them in his report - I just feel we've got within reach of ds getting proper help and I don't want anyone to whisk that idea away

Anyway, I will certainly have a good old look at the jump ahead stuff - thanks again

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Rivvy · 26/10/2007 21:52

Glad I could help.

My DD is not statemented, I paid for her to see a Occupational Therapist who did a report and luckily the school took it seriously.

We're very lucky as if she saw the Occupational Therapist regularly it would be £40 / session. Also all the other children in her class are jealous of the Jump Ahead children as they get to do 'fun things' three times a week and get stickers and team points in the process so there's no stigma (at the moment)

cat64 · 26/10/2007 21:57

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HonoriaGlossop · 26/10/2007 22:13

Thanks again Rivvy, and thanks for all the practical suggestions cat - you've obviously been there or know alot about it! I will definitely get him one of the special rulers, I wasn't aware of those; and the idea for his drawer and peg to be at the end so he can be a bit outside the 'scrum' is just genius!

Many of the other things we have/do try with ds, though we haven't done spray painting the house with a bottle, he will LOVE that one!

What do you think of pursuing tennis with him - over the summer, before all this dyspraxia stuff was so 'formalised' we enrolled him in a 3 to 5 yr olds class once a week. He APPEARS to have a good time but he really is rubbish at it He doesn't appear to mind or compare himself but he is such a sweetheart that I wonder if he just thinks he shouldn't tell us he realises he's not so good. i realise I may be agonising over nothing here. But with co-ordination probs, is he EVER likely to be good at tennis? Maybe we should try to concentrate more on swimming, which he loves or as you say, another sport. I guess climbing would certainly be good for his arm strength!

Thanks for your thoughts, they really are so helpful and appreciated.

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Rivvy · 27/10/2007 09:05


My DD does ballet, riding, cello and swimming.

The Occ therapist said if she hadn't done the riding and ballet so young (2) she would have far more serious problems now.

She is aware that she isnt as good or fast as the others. But she is very clever and seems to work out strategies. She remembers the ballet dances better than anyone else in her class so fits in well. Her riding is very good but she does have her own pony (lucky girl) and has great feel so although she's not as balanced and daring as her peers she gets the pony going better!
She finds swimming hard but can swim about 5m on her own now. She tires very quickly with everything she does and gets hand and leg tremors, she often only rides for 10 mins. But she enjoys everything active and said to my mum the other day "I'm happiest when I'm soing exercise" which I never though I'd hear her say!

What I'm trying to say is if they enjoy it let them do as much as they want because it's only going to help. But be very aware that they struggle, if dd comes out of school lokking tired I don't hesitate in missing ballet and cello and swimming are at the weekend. I'm also lucky because her ballet teacher and swimming teacher are very understanding (we have changed swimming instructors a few times to find the right one!)

Trampolining is also good or could you try golf - it's not quite so fast moving!


cat64 · 27/10/2007 16:51

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minorityrules · 27/10/2007 17:04

Push to get OT involvement

They can provide basics such as pencil grippers, rulers with knobs on and maybe a posture pack (a wedge to sit on, and a sloping board for writing

If he has trouble with instructions, ask the school to sellotape the basics at his desk (we had pointers for how to strat piece of work, to remind son to put date, name) Also a little reminder I will listen, I will ask for help, etc

OT can also give exercises to help build the muscle groups that may not be so good, school could add them to the school day or put them in pe lessons for everyone. Swimming is good too

chocolateteapot · 27/10/2007 17:12

Definitely agree with about getting OT involvement and also physio if it is available - ours was worth her weight in gold devising ways that DD could learn to skip with a rope so she could join in with her friends in the playground.

Piano is great I think because it provides an auditory feedback to the amount of pressure exerted on a note, which in turn helps when it comes to how much pressure to exert when writing. Well that's my theory and I am sticking to it ! At a guess it also helps strengthen the muscles in the fingers if they are a bit weak. A good teacher will go at the child's pace and they do very slowly learn to use both hands, which again helps with other things.

What the SENCO arranged for my DD when she became very demotivated by her difficulty with writing, was to write two sentences maximum then the classroom assistant was to scribe for her. There was also talk of her dictating stories etc into a dictophone after writing the first two lines, but I don't think they ever did it.

Blandmum · 27/10/2007 17:23

OT input. getting pencils with better grips, and possibly a slanting board.

the scheme 'write from the start' can be used by schools, and is photocopiable, and is very helpful in helping correct letter formation and fluency.

We are very lucy the RAF pays for support for ds in school (he has a dx of dyspraxia) and he gets 10 hours of 1 to 1 support in the classroom, as well as an hour with the SENCO each week. we are exceptionally lucky in this and dh is now making progress.

HonoriaGlossop · 27/10/2007 19:23

Thanks everyone, so much; I can't tell you how much I am appreciating your input.

Will read and digest asap - just staggered from my sickbed, have a v bad cold at the mo. Put it this way if DH had this he'd have the flu

I will check back asap and thanks again.

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Blandmum · 27/10/2007 19:24

You can also do 'write from the start' yourself, at home, you can buy it on Amazon. We have found it very helpful

mumeeee · 27/10/2007 23:43

My 15 year old DD is dyspraxic. She was about 7 when she was diognosed. She went to a special OT group for about a term when she was 8 where she did a lot of exercises and was given exercisesto complete at home. Then when she was 10 she attended a special group for dyspraxic children once a wek for a year. Here again she was given exercises to do Eg throwing balls,walking along a line lifting wiehgts ( we used Baked bean cans at home). At school she had a couple of sessions a week with the Special needs teacher, she used a writing slope which realy helped her,but she did not get on with pencil grips.
She is now in year 11 and working towards her GCSE's. she will be given extra time and a scribe for most of the exams. She now uses a yoro pen which she finds realy good and it does help her writing.
She starte at a Drama club when she was 11 this realy boosted her confidence and helped with both her social and organisational skills ( although she does still forget somethings). She still goes to drama and has had several speaking parts in plays. She wants to to drama at college.
Sorry for the long post. hope it helps you. Oh playingg with sand and building with lego also helps.

perpetualworrier · 28/10/2007 10:52

My friend's son has the same issue. He goes to "Trim Trail" for c. 20 mins at school every day. It's basically exercises to help with co-ordination and children with all sorts of problems go.

I know it's run at my Son's school too and from what I gather it's done at all schools locally. We're in an Education Action Zone, so I don't know if it's something to do with that, but worth asking. Could be called something else in other areas.

My friend's boy goes to a special needs football club. We're in Essex. If that's local for you and you'd like details, I'll get them for you.

RosaTransylvania · 28/10/2007 20:50

DD1 is dyspraxic. The only extra help we got at school was extra handwriting sessions with a TA. I really agree with Rivvy's post. DD1 does violin, ballet, modern dance and swimming and did do gymnastics for a couple of years. The result is that she can now keep pace with her peers in things like PE lessons which used to be a huge problem for her. Anything that involves physical co-ordination is a lot more difficult for her and she consequently she expends a lot more effort doing it and gets very tired. Swimming lessons are a good example, she works really hard and exhausts herself, but because her technique is so poor compared to her classmates she is much slower. This can get disheartening, but in the long run, she is 10 years old and about to take her 400m distance badge which is about where most of her peers are anyway.
Ballet is the same, her teacher is amazed at how much she has improved over the last few years, which she sees as the triumph of hard work and determination over a total lack of natural aptitude!
What I am trying to say in a roundabout way, is encourage your son to do activities that will benefit his co-ordination even if he doesn't appear to have any real aptitude for them, as long as he enjoys them enough to keep going through the tough times - and we have had a lot of tears - because the joy of becoming average at something like PE for a dyspraxic child who is used to being 'hopeless' at it, is really, really worth the effort.

HonoriaGlossop · 29/10/2007 09:31

Thank you MB for that; I will order the 'write from the start' stuff; it sounds spot on for ds. So glad your ds is getting good help and making progress

It's really helped clarify things for me, this thread; Rosa I will definitely pursue tennis for ds; he does APPEAR to enjoy himself so I think I won't agonise too much and I'll just let him get on with trying (plus they do such nice coffee at the Tennis Club don'tchaknow)

His birthday present next year was going to be a trampoline so I think we'll get that sorted early as soon as weather allows; and we'll pursue lots of physical stuff.

And I'm going to be seeing ds' teacher for a meeting soon to see what else of these fab suggestions they will help with.

Thank you so much again for all this input.

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