This week, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a remarkable young woman with dyspraxia. We shared our stories, and I’ve been thinking about it since.
|Many dyspraxics may prefer slip on shoes to laced shoes, because they struggle with fine motor tasks, but can enjoy sports because their gross motor skills aren’t effected. Many others find the opposite to be true.
image via PicJumbo
It’s known as Developmental Coordination Disorder in the DSM-V, and involves difficulty with motor skills due to a neurological difference in the brain.
Although it’s officially classified as a specific learning disability, earning students the right to an IEP, and an estimated 10% of the population has it, it’s not well known in this country. In fact, I had never heard of it before starting this blog.
As I poked around the internet, I found a fantastic web page about the Dyspraxia Foundation USA. They compiled an impressive collection of profiles of people with dyspraxia and their families in which they shared their stories. The dyspraxic folks range from the age of three up into their 80s.
Although they talk about some of the challenges faced from the difference itself and the difficulties in finding diagnosis/treatment, they also talk about the strengths that come with the experience.
Of the stories I’ve read, and people I’ve known, here are three common strengths that many seem to have in common:
- Logical problem solving skills
- Creativity in achieving goals
- Determination to stick with challenges
Just like with all SLDs, there’s no way to pigeon-hole this group into any specific stereotype. Their collective issues may be motor-skill based, but that doesn’t mean they’re all influenced in the same way.
Like all other forms of neurodiversity, dyspraxia comes on a spectrum. Daniel Radcliff, for example, has a mild form of dyspraxia, which makes things like tying his shoes difficult, but doesn’t influence him in the same way as someone with a more severe form. Alternatively, one person may have difficulties with fine motor skills, while someone else might only struggle with gross motor skills and a third may have issues with both.
Occupational therapy must be tailored to each individual, and the therapist should have a solid understanding of what comes with this SLD.
Just like with dyslexia, autism, ADHD and other better known differences, people with dyspraxia also need to find and apply their own, unique strengths. Furthermore, educators, medical professionals and parents also need to be made aware of this common difference.
Kids are still slipping between the cracks due to the ignorance around dyspraxia. However, greater awareness and understanding of how to help, we can change that.