Dyspraxia Therapy Program: Treating Learning Disability Students and Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is a term used to describe a developmental disorder which affects coordination. This includes fine motor skills such as using a pen or tying a shoe, gross motor skills such as running around or catching a ball, and balance tasks such as climbing up a wall or walking up and down stairs. Dyspraxia can have an impact on movement, perception and thought, so may affect speech, hand-eye coordination, sequencing and organization. It is estimated that Dyspraxia affects at least two percent of the general population, and 70% of those affected are male. As many as six percent of all children show some signs of Dyspraxia*.

An individual with Dyspraxia can encounter many academic, social, emotional, and physical obstacles in their daily lives. Weaknesses in comprehension, information processing, and listening contribute to the troubles experienced within the classroom for students with dyspraxia. As a result, they may also have low self-esteem, little to no confidence, and reach depression. Lack of being able to express themselves through physical activities such as sports or simple activities such as walking has potential to lead to emotional and behavioral troubles.  Moreover, Dyspraxia is often coupled with speech troubles. The lack of correct pronunciation of letters and sounds is common to see.

At Suprex Learning, we provide a combination of techniques to cater to the needs of students with Dyspraxia. Rhythmic Writing improves visual-motor integration, establishes hemispheric specialization for language, and polishes fine and gross motor skills. The Blue Book method improves speech by working on decoding skills, encoding skills, promoting phonemic awareness, and improving ability to apply spelling generalizations to speech and writing. Moveable Alphabet targets multiple components of speech by improving phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and phonetics. Dictation and Copy improves near-point copying, hand-eye coordination, application of various writing components such as paragraph and sentence structure, and comprehension and language processing.

Each technique used in Educational Therapy serves a vital purpose in our goal to improve academic performance for students with Dyspraxia. Each of our sessions begin with Rhythmic Writing in which the student works on one of the most common leading factors of poor handwriting and weak fine motor-skills: incorrect, tight, or awkward grips on writing utensils. Here, the therapist works to perfect the grip of the student on multiple media of writing including chalk on a levitated space such as a chalkboard, and marker on a laminated mat in seated structure similar to that of a desk in a classroom. In both cases, students work on proper positioning to target all muscles in the body. This includes correct stance and positioning of feet to maintain balance, large arm, neck and shoulder movement to work on gross motor skills, and crossing the midline of the brain. This technique encourages students to make a habit of crossing from the left side of the brain over the midline to the right; learning to do this is a task achieved by practice that greatly aids in neater, precise coordination. The Blue Book Method combines reading, spelling, speaking and writing; four categories that are linked together in which students with Dyspraxia often have weaknesses in. Here, Dyspraxic students can work on pronunciation of letters in sounds by making sense of them through a “keyword” method we use and applying it to their writing, first in a structured way in  their Bluebook Workbooks, and then in a natural way in Dictation and Copy. Students take these combinations of spelling patterns and memory of pronunciation and apply it to writing, reading, and speaking until it becomes habitual for them.

Academic Remediation:

To help a student with Dyspraxia, repeated annunciation of words is helpful. It allows students to correctly hear each sound. Then, allowing students to repeat what they heard provides student with an opportunity to practice pronunciation of words and sounds and ensuring that they correctly understood what was said. Sometimes, talking slowly and encouraging the student to make direct eye contact is helpful. An efficient method of working on motor skills for Dyspraxic students is activities starting out with simpler activities that improve large-motor skills such as tossing a ball in a basket when answering a question correctly, and then working toward an activity involving more intricate muscle movement such as sketching a drawing. Word searches are great ways to improve visual-motor integration and can be implemented in many school assignments for spelling, or even at home for practice.

Classroom Accommodations:

  • Allowing students to use small pillows to sit in chairs/desk
  • Assistance through a peer or teacher in fine-motor activities such as cutting, pasting, detailed coloring, or labeling.
  • Visual, aural, and tactile demonstrations incorporated into instruction.
  • Concise course and lecture outlines

*National Center for Learning Disabilities-  http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyspraxia/what-is-dyspraxia)

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