WHAT IS DYSPRAXIA?

Coordination difficulties have been given many labels over the years, including Dyspraxia and 'clumsy child syndrome', but the most recent and preferred term today is Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

As many as 6% of primary school children are affected and DCD commonly coexists with other conditions such as Dyslexia, Aspergher’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit (Hyperactive) Disorder (ADD/ADHD) and Autism.

The following problems may be experienced by a child with Dyspraxia:

A general clumsiness and poor coordination, often tripping over or bumping into objects.

Poor balance and falls easily, often ‘falling over thin air’.

Late reaching their major developmental milestones, e.g. sitting, crawling, standing, walking.

Poor handwriting, which is often illegible and/or slow

An inability to sit still, often being fidgety or restless.

Difficulty dressing/undressing, particularly with buttons, zips and shoelaces.

Poor sense of direction and visual-spatial processing difficulties (including spatial awareness).

Unable to ride a bicycle or is slow to master the skill.

Difficulty organizing themselves and their thoughts, making essay planning and timekeeping challenging.

Poor ball skills, e.g. throwing, catching, kicking.

Sensory processing difficulties which may manifest as disliking loud noises, hair washing, clothing labels and messy play.

Dislikes/difficulty with P.E. lessons and games, with their poor coordination and spatial awareness difficulties being intensified by the fast-paced environment. Some children will go to any lengths to avoid the humiliation of P.E. lessons!

Difficulty using a knife and fork, often being a messy eater.

Poor short-term memory and forgetfulness, with remembering/following instructions being a particular challenge.

Difficulty copying text from the blackboard, due to poor motor coordination in the eye muscles.

Difficulties with motor planning.

May have difficulty with social skills, perhaps being a ‘loner’.

Daily struggles with school life may manifest as behavioural difficulties, perhaps being disruptive in class or becoming the class ‘clown’.

Easily distracted with poor concentration.

The DSM V diagnostic criteria for Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) are:

A. Motor performance that is substantially below expected levels, given the person’s chronologic age and previous opportunities for skill acquisition. The poor motor performance may manifest as coordination problems, poor balance, clumsiness, dropping or bumping into things; marked delays in achieving developmental motor milestones (e.g., walking, crawling, sitting) or in the acquisition of basic motor skills (e.g., catching, throwing, kicking, running, jumping, hopping, cutting, colouring, printing, writing).

B. The disturbance in Criterion A, without accommodations, significantly and persistently interferes with activities of daily living or academic achievement.

C. Onset of symptoms is in the early developmental period.

D. The motor skill deficits are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual development disorder) or visual impairment and are not attributable to a neurological condition affecting movement (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, degenerative disorder).

ABOUT ME

Fiona Simmonds, Chartered Physiotherapist
I specialize in the assessment and treatment of children with Dyspraxia / Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy from Brunel University in 2000, having completed part of my degree in Sweden as part of an ERASMUS exchange.

* Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)
* Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered. This requires an active commitment to maintaining continuous professional development and to regularly updating knowledge based on latest research.
* Criminal Records Bureau checked
* First aid trained – Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Professionals (including adult, child and infant CPR procedures)

I started this private practice in 2008, assessing and treating solely children (aged 5-15) with Dyspraxia, Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), other coordination difficulties and handwriting problems.

Since developing an interest in this niche, I have taken many courses focusing on the assessment and treatment of these children and have enjoyed keeping up to date with current research in this field.

In 2016, I attended DCD-UK, the biennial academic and practitioner conference on Developmental Coordination Disorder at the University of Leeds. This saw all the UK leaders in this field gather together for a highly informative 2-day conference which helped me to consolidate and develop my knowledge and to exchange best practice with other therapists, doctors, teachers and academics.

During my career I have also gained 11 years’ experience working as a specialist physiotherapist for the Royal Air Force and as team physiotherapist for Icarus FC, the RAF Officers’ football club. This work has involved the assessment and treatment of Armed Forces personnel with a diverse range of problems, from sports and training niggles to disabling injuries sustained on Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I have also qualified as a Yoga Teacher and Ballroom & Latin American Dance Teacher. I practice a number of complementary therapies, including acupuncture, homotoxicology, Reiki, sound therapy, Indian head massage, Hopi ear candling and dowsing. You can read much more about my adventures in yoga, spirituality, fitness and healthy living on my blog: The Spiritual Junkie.

THE DYSPRAXIA ASSESSMENT

The Dyspraxia Assessment is suitable for children aged 5 years – 15 years and can assist in providing a diagnosis of Dyspraxia / Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

Please note that for a diagnosis of DCD to be given, European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD) guidelines state that the involvement of a paediatrician is necessary to exclude other conditions that could account for the motor problems and to ensure that any overlapping conditions (such as Attention Deficit (Hyperactive) Disorder (ADD/ADHD), Autism and Aspergher’s Syndrome) are identified so that appropriate support can be put in place.

The Dyspraxia Assessment also highlights the child’s specific areas of difficulty and thus enables individualised advice and treatment to be given.

The Dyspraxia Assessment lasts approximately 2½ – 3 hours and most children find it to be fun.

The Dyspraxia Assessment consists of a number of components, including:
The Movement Assessment Battery for Children (Movement ABC-2) forms an important part in the diagnostic process. A child scoring below the 15th percentile on this standardised assessment of motor skills may qualify for a diagnosis of DCD.
The Quick Neurological Screening Test, Third Edition (QNST-3) consists of a series of 15 tasks that have been adapted from standard traditional neurological exams and developmental scales and are used to assess the development of motor coordination and sensory integration.
Structured clinical observations are made through the observation of specific movements and activities appropriate to the age of the child.
Primitive Reflexes are assessed since retained Primitive Reflexes can have an impact on movement, learning, emotions, sensory processing and behaviour.
The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (Second Edition) is administered in order to determine the child’s intellectual ability and verify that any motor coordination problems are not due to more pervasive developmental problems.
Questionnaires (which are completed by the child’s parents and/or teacher prior to the Dyspraxia Assessment) also play an important role in the diagnostic process. These include the Movement ABC-2 Checklist which is used to ascertain whether there is significant interference with academic achievement or activities of daily living.

Testimonials

Assessments take place at the individual child's home or school within Kent (United Kingdom) and are priced at £450.

If you have any questions or if you would like to book a Dyspraxia Assessment for your child, please get in touch using the contact form below or call me on 07780 513040.

Get in Touch

For further information or to book my services for a Dyspraxia Assessment, please contact me.