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Dyspraxia Therapy Program: Treating students with Dyspraxia
Dyspraxia is a term used to describe a developmental disorder that 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 the stairs. Dyspraxia can have an impact on movement, perception, and thought, which may impact speech, hand-eye coordination, sequencing, and organization. It is estimated that Dyspraxia affects at least 2% of the general population, and 70% of those affected are male. As many as 6% of all children show some signs of Dyspraxia.*
An individual with Dyspraxia can encounter many academic, social, emotional, and physical obstacles in their daily life. Weaknesses in comprehension, information processing, and listening capacity 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 experience depression. The inability to express themselves through physical activities such as sports or simple activities like walking has the potential to lead to emotional and behavioral troubles. Moreover, Dyspraxia is often accompanied by trouble with speech. The incorrect pronunciation of letters and sounds is a common occurrence.
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 the ability to apply spelling generalizations to speech and writing. Moveable Alphabet targets multiple components of speech by improving phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and phonetics. Our Dictation and Copy technique improves near-point copying, hand-eye coordination, application of various writing components such as paragraph and sentence structure, 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. 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. 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 a 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. Dyspraxic students can work on the pronunciation of letters in sounds by making sense of them through a “keyword” method we use and apply it to their writing, initially 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.
The repeated annunciation of words can be helpful to people with Dyspraxia as it allows them to practice their listening ability. In this exercise, they listen for sounds and then repeat what they heard. This gives them the opportunity to practice the pronunciation of words and sounds and ensure that they correctly understood what was said. Sometimes, talking slowly and encouraging the student to make direct eye contact is helpful. To improve motor skills, we may start out with simpler activities that improve large-motor skills such as tossing a ball into a basket while answering questions correctly and then move on to activities involving more intricate muscle movement such as sketching. Word searches are great ways to improve visual-motor integration and can be implemented in many school assignments or even at home for practice.
- Allowing students to use small pillows to sit in chairs or 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- https://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyspraxia/what-is-dyspraxia)