What parents can do
- Practise skills with your child, both fine motor skills (through activities like beading, lacing, painting, etc.) as well as gross motor skills, by playing with him outdoors.
- Encourage activities that enhance coordination. You don’t need to be an expert: playing ball in the garden, going swimming, teaching your child to ride a bike – all this can be of great help.
- Talk through activities such as putting on a piece of clothing or kicking the ball into a goal, in a step-by-step manner. Ask your child to think about how he could do something better, differently or even faster.
- Help him learn necessary social skills. Children with dyspraxia are socially clumsy; they find emotions difficult to read and have poor spatial awareness, literally ‘invading the space of others’. Parents can help by encouraging their child to make friends and to take part in activities with them outside the home.
- Most importantly, be understanding and aware of the fact that change will be gradual. Your child will feel better knowing that you are there for him, no matter what.
Parents should work closely with the school and teachers to ensure that learning is made easy and practical for the dyspraxic child by:
- Reducing the number of tasks allotted to the child, and allowing additional time for their completion.
- Breaking down the task at hand into manageable bits.
- Giving instructions one at a time, rather than a complex string, which may result in confusion.
- Reinforcing instructions by repetition.
- Providing extra supervision and encouragement, especially in practical subjects.
- Getting the child to work as part of a team.
- Talking through what is expected of him on a particular assignment.
- Keeping the child away from distractions.
- Teaching the child strategies to help remember and assist himself, by using lists and diaries, or to-do lists so he can tick off the tasks he completes.
- Ensuring the child is well prepared for any changes to routine, which can be both problematic and distressing.
Shivani Singh, Delhi, who has a dyspraxic son, sums up – “The biggest problem that dyspraxics and other children with special learning needs face today, is the attitude of the people around them. When Neil was first diagnosed with dyspraxia, we were thrown off the regular path. We were caught unawares, but we had to deal with it. Because of the lack of awareness, the first reaction is always ‘find a cure.’ But there’s actually so much we can do to adapt. Change our environment. And accept them – mentally, physically and emotionally. ”