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Dyspraxia: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About dyspraxia

Dyspraxia also called ‘motor learning disability’ is characterised by the impairment of motor skills along with learning disabilities of variable character and severity. The affected individual is normal in intelligence but lacks in the coordination ability of muscles, maintaining posture and reading and writing skills. It is a lifelong disorder which requires a multi-dimensional approach in its management.

Dyspraxia: Incidence, age and sex

Dyspraxia is not an infrequent disorder in the general population. It is more commonly seen in boys as compared with girls.

Signs and symptoms of dyspraxia: Diagnosis

The primary clinical features of dyspraxia include disruption of motor skills resulting in difficulty in performing daily chores. The individual may find difficulty in performing tasks involving gross motor skills like climbing up and down the stairs, driving and playing outdoor games. Fine motor skills are also impaired causing problems in tasks like buttoning the shirt, tying shoe laces, craft work and even writing and colouring. The child with dyspraxia typically exhibits delayed physical milestones especially that of speech. The child may also have unclear speech and illegible handwriting. Such children also face difficulty in mathematical applications. Other features include lack of comprehension and organisational skills. Moreover, a dyspraxic child seems to be clumsy with awkward gait and frequent stumbling.

Dyspraxia is a complex disorder and difficult to diagnose. Cognitive tests and motor skills tests are usually required to establish the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of dyspraxia

The cause of dyspraxia is not clearly understood. It is considered to develop as a result of abnormal development of damage to the nerve cells called neurons. It may be seen since birth due to oxygen depletion during childbirth. It can also be acquired later due to the damage of the brain tissue in conditions like a stroke or trauma. It may also be familial or hereditary in nature.

Dyspraxia: Complications

Dyspraxia may have distressing personal and social implications. The individual may develop low self-esteem and even depression, due to motor problems and learning disabilities encountered especially during academic life.

Dyspraxia: Treatment

Dyspraxia is a lifelong disease which has no cure. The treatment modalities include special educational facility, occupational therapy, physical therapy, orthotic treatment, all of which may help in improving the quality of life. The primary treatment modality is to provide special education facilities to such affected individuals. Innovative teaching methodologies are required to overcome the learning blocks and make such children cope with reading and writing skills. Speech therapists may also help in the improvement of speech, if needed.

Physical exercises and motor training may be needed to overcome the muscular coordination problems. Orthotic devices, walkers or wheelchairs may be needed in certain individuals who are unable to walk properly. The entire treatment plan is designed to improve the capability and overcome developmental shortcomings in affected children and help them lead a fulfilling and independent life.