Many Australian children struggle with dyspraxia, a condition that disrupts the messages that travel from a child’s brain to the muscles of their body.
Dyspraxia (also called apraxia) is a neurologically based developmental disability that is typically present from birth.
Dyspraxia can affect a child in many ways.
It can cause a child to struggle with skills like speaking, reading writing, dressing or running.
Dyspraxia is a motor planning difficulty, not a problem with muscle strength or tone.
If your child has dyspraxia, he or she may know what they want their body to do, but they might not be able to get their body to do it.
Dyspraxia – A ‘hidden’ disability
Dyspraxia is a hidden disability. It is only noticeable when a child has to move their body.
Children with dyspraxia look no different than typically developing children.
Dyspraxia does not affect intelligence and this is why dyspraxia can be so frustrating for children.
They know what their body is supposed to do, but it just won’t do as it’s told!
This is because the child is having difficulty planning the motor sequences required to make an action.
These actions could be every day things like coordinating their fingers and hand so that they can write, or moving their tongue and mouth simultaneously so that they can speak or lick an ice cream cone.
Types of Dyspraxia
Dyspraxia can affect many parts of the body.
There are 3 types of dyspraxia–motor, oral, and verbal.
Motor dyspraxia affects a child’s ability to plan, sequence and execute movements in a smooth and coordinated manner at will or on command. Children with motor dyspraxia may have trouble with:
- Timing and rhythm
- Responding quickly and accurately
- Problem solving
- Sequencing activities
- Learning a new skill
- Coordinated movement
- Generalising skills and consistent performance of learned skills
- Delayed developmental milestones such as crawling or walking
Oral dyspraxia is a disorder in which it is difficult to plan, sequence and initiate non-speech movements such as sucking, blowing, chewing and swallowing. A child with oral dyspraxia may:
- Dribble or drool excessively
- Have trouble licking an ice cream cone
- Have trouble chewing
- Exhibit difficulties with eating and swallowing
- May lose food out of the front of the mouth
Verbal dyspraxia is a speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to plan, sequence and initiate the movements required for talking. Children with verbal apraxia may exhibit:
- Highly unintelligible speech
- Simplify words
- Had limited babbling as infants with only a few consonants and vowels
- Demonstrate “lost” or groping movements with tongue or lips
- Have delayed expressive language
- Have inconsistent errors in speech (butterfly may come out bufferty or pubberfy or futterby)
- Have more difficulty with multi-syllabic words
- Have vowel errors
- Prosody and intonation are “choppy”
- Automatic phrases (e.g. counting, alphabet, I love you) are easier to say than new phrases or sentences
- Imitating words correctly is very difficult
Verbal dyspraxia can also be called Childhood Apraxia of Speech or CAS.
It is a rare speech disorder.
A population estimate based on clinical referral data suggests that CAS occurs in 1-2 children per 1,000 (0.1%-0.2%; Shriberg et al., 1997) and is found in 3.4%-4.3% of the children referred for speech disorders (Delaney & Kent, 2004).
On average, CAS affects more boys than girls by a ratio of 2 or 3:1 (Hall, Jordan, & Robin, 1993; Lewis, Freebairn, Hansen, Taylor et al., 2004).
Does your child have Dyspraxia?
If you think that your child might be struggling with dyspraxia, it is important to seek advice from a qualified professional.
Paediatric speech pathologists and occupational therapists can help with specific exercises and guidance for you and your child.
© 2016 Kids First Children’s Services
Concerned about your child?
Kids First’s experienced team of speech pathologists and occupational therapists have helped many children who struggle with dyspraxia.
We are located in Sydney’s northern beaches and would be delighted to assist your family.
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