What Is DCD/Dyspraxia?
'Dyspraxia, a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech. DCD is a lifelong condition, formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation. DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke, and occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. Individuals may vary in how their difficulties present: these may change over time depending on environmental demands and life experiences.
An individual’s coordination difficulties may affect participation and functioning of everyday life skills in education, work and employment.
Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play as well as other educational and recreational activities. In adulthood many of these difficulties will continue, as well as learning new skills at home, in education and work, such as driving a car and DIY.
There may be a range of co-occurring difficulties which can also have serious negative impacts on daily life. These include social and emotional difficulties as well as problems with time management, planning and personal organisation, and these may also affect an adult’s education or employment experiences.
Many people with DCD also experience difficulties with memory, perception and processing. While DCD is often regarded as an umbrella term to cover motor coordination difficulties, dyspraxia refers to those people who have additional problems planning, organising and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations. Dyspraxia can also affect articulation and speech, perception and thought.' (http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/about-dyspraxia/) For a direct link to the page click on this LINK
If you want to know more about the specifics of Dyspraxia you can check out the Dyspraxia Foundation (UK) website by clicking on this LINK or by phoning their national helpline on 01462 454986
Why Do We Need To Raise Awareness Of Dyspraxia?
Why Bother With A Diagnosis?
Many people however report that they are not given the opportunity to undergo these assessments in order to provide the evidence needed.
Why Is Getting A Referal For Assessment Not Always Straight Forward?
I have personally encountered SENCOs at schools who have said they have never even heard of dyspraxia, GPs that think it is not a condition that warrants assessments for adults, in fact here in the UK adults cannot currently even get assessments for DCD/dyspraxia on the NHS! I have even come across an Occupational Therapist who after assessing someone in the 5th percentile noted his personal opinion in the report that as the child could do some ballet activities which required a certain level of coordination and because they performed better at these than they did in the test it showed 'in their opinion' that the child in question just needed to 'try harder' to learn to perform other motor-functions, therefore preventing the child in question from receiving a formal diagnosis! When asked directly about whether the child could have dyspraxia the OT's response was that 'those labels were not 'desirable' and as such they didn't like to 'burden' children with them as they would then be 'lumbered' with them for life.
Where are people meant to turn when confronted by professionals who are this unaware of the debilitating consequences of not getting the right diagnosis or adequate support for their children? This could be one of the reasons why so many parents are also forced to obtain private assessments for their children.
Further to this kind of professional ignorance and/or personal 'negative' opinions regarding these diagnoses many parents and individuals affected by DCD/dyspraxia do not themselves have enough knowledge of the neurodiverse difference or how it presents in individuals in order to even realise that they or their children might actually have it. So the overwhelming responses I receive to the question 'how could we improve the life-chances of those affected by these kinds of difficulties' is that we need to raise awareness of these differences amongst the whole population!
Don't Give Up The Fight... There Are Professionals Out There Who Do Support Our Needs
My personal favourite expert source of information on DCD/dyspraxia is that produced by Professor Amanda Kirby. I have watched her speak at conferences and listened to her webinars, watched her YouTube videos and read a number of her books. Her latest books which I have enjoyed reading and would happily recommend to anyone who has difficulties commonly associated with DCD/dyspraxia are:
* Dyspraxia - Developmental Co-ordination Disorder by Amanda Kirby
(This book can be found at Amazon by clicking on this LINK)
* How to Succeed in Employment with Specific Learning Difficulties: A Guide for Employees and Employers by Amanda Kirby
(This book can be found at Amazon by clicking this LINK)
* How to Succeed with Specific Learning Difficulties at College and University: A Guide for Students, Educators & Parents by Amanda Kirby
(This book can be found at Amazon by clicking this LINK)
There are also plenty of GPs and other professionals who may not be experts themselves but who are prepared to take the condition and how it affects us seriously and who are willing to refer patients on for expert advice so please don't ever give up just because you have encountered one professional who is ignorant of the difficulties presented by this condition and unwilling to give us the support and understanding we desperately need.
Look for the Gems, don't assume all the people you talk to will be as dismissive or unsupportive as those you may have already encountered. The gems are there - it's just that sometimes you really have to dig around in order to find them!
What Other Support Is Available?
I have already included links to the Dyspraxia Foundation, the UKs leading Charity on the topic of Dyspraxia and that would be a great place to start.
We live in a world where the internet allows us to easily access support groups even when there are non local to us. I myself found a number of 'Closed' or 'Private' Facebook Dyspraxia related Groups which have been very supportive and I have gained much from my involvement with them. Some are great resources for parents who are battling the system for their children, others are great resources for adults like me who just want to feel understood and accepted by their dyspraxic peers, there is something for everyone. Just remember that non of these internet support groups can give medical advice, if that is what you are after ALWAYS see your doctor. What these groups are great for is support, understanding and quite often friendships.
I have also included links to a number of my previous Top Tip blogs on how to manage problems which commonly affect people with DCD/dyspraxia and other overlapping and co-occurring neurodiverse differences as I have received some fantastic feedback from the dyspraxic community for these in the past. I hope they will go some way towards helping others with similar difficulties manage their differences.
* Read about why I (and other employers out there), are specifically looking to employ people with Neurodiverse differences like dyspraxia by clicking this LINK
* Discover some useful tools, techniques and strategies to help people who suffer with poor working memory by clicking this LINK
* Check out how to reduce your falls and stumbles and the injuries you incur because of them by clicking this LINK
* Discover how to discuss your difficulties and differences in a positive way by clicking this LINK
* Get insight into why people with neurodiverse differences like dyspraxia might struggle to keep their homes clean and check out the guide on how to clean your house - the easy way, by clicking this LINK
If you like these blogs and find them useful then please feel free to check out all my other ones by clicking on this LINK.
All my blogs are on the topic of neurodiversity and between them offer many techniques and strategies which have personally helped me to manage my neurodiverse differences and which might also be of great benefit to you or your loved ones. Once you are on my main blog page you just need to scroll down. Each topic starts with a picture of a brain in a light bulb or a multi-coloured hand print so it is easy to navigate between topics.
Please share this blog
to help raise awareness of
Dyspraxia Awareness Week
12th - 18th October 2014
Please do feel free to add your experiences of trying to get a diagnosis of DCD/Dyspraxia to the comments on this blog so others can see how much further we still need to go!