Having described the main differences between the child with dyspraxia and his peers, it is useful to be aware of the key characteristics that children with dyspraxia display. However, it is also extremely important that not every child who trips over chairs or bumps into every available person is labelled 'dyspraxic'.
Readers should be aware that a child should display a cluster of these characteristics. If a teacher, parent or other carer is concerned that a child is displaying these features, they should observe the child for a period of time before rushing in and possibly subjecting the child to unnecessary assessments and the family to unneeded anguish. However, while teachers and carers should exercise caution, they should not turn a blind eye to developmental differences in children, as the earlier developmental dyspraxia is detected, assessed and diagnosed, the better for the individual concerned. To help identify children who exhibit features of dyspraxia it is worth considering the characteristics discussed in the following sections.
It is often difficult to identify dyspraxia in pre-school children owing to the variations in normal development. Often specific difficulties in motor coordination are not apparent, as complex activities such as riding a bike are often not mastered until the child is 5 or 6 years of age. Perceptual skills, which begin to develop at an early age are not mature until a child is 7 or 8 years old, and therefore difficulties in these are not as obvious as when the child reaches school age. Verbal dyspraxia may be more obvious as speech develops quite rapidly between the ages of 18 months and 5 years. However, pressure regarding speech production is not as intense in a family environment where parents and siblings can 'tune in' to the nuances of speech and the non-verbal signals given by a child struggling with speech production. Limited speech is therefore put down to immaturity, laziness, sibling communication and the use of competent non-verbal signals.
Consequently the characteristics seen in the pre-school child are subtler and easily mistaken for immaturity or lack of experience. However, it is useful to observe the child participating in the activities discussed in the following sections.
Children with dyspraxia often run awkwardly with their lower legs splayed out at the knees and with an awkward gait, which will continue beyond the age of 5 years.
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Publication information: Book title: Making Inclusion Work for Children with Dyspraxia: Practical Strategies for Teachers. Contributors: Gill Lois M. Addy Dixon - Author. Publisher: RoutledgeFalmer. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 30.
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