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Developmental dyspraxia

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1 Developmental dyspraxia on Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:08 pm

csweepigirl

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Developmental dyspraxia is one or all of a heterogeneous range of development disorders affecting the initiation, organization and performance of action. It is a diagnosis of exclusion which entails the partial loss of the ability to coordinate and perform certain purposeful movements and gestures, in the absence of other motor or sensory impairments like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease.

The concept of developmental dyspraxia has existed for more than a century, but differing interpretation of the terminology remains.

Developmental dyspraxia (referred to as developmental coordination disorder (DCD) in the US) is a life-long condition that is more common in males than in females; the exact proportion of people with the disorder is unknown since the disorder can be difficult to detect due to a lack of specific laboratory tests, thus making diagnosis of the condition one of elimination of all other possible causes/diseases. Current estimates range from 5% - 20% with at least 2% being affected severely. Ripley, Daines, and Barrett state that "Developmental dyspraxia is difficulty getting our bodies to do what we want when we want them to do it", and that this difficulty can be considered significant when it interferes with the normal range of activities expected for a child of their age. Madeline Portwood makes the distinction that dyspraxia is not due to a general medical condition, but that it may be due to immature neuron development. The word "dyspraxia" comes from the Greek words "dys" meaning impaired or abnormal and "praxis", meaning action or deed.

Dyspraxia is described as having two main elements:

Ideational dyspraxia
Difficulty with planning a sequence of coordinated movements.
Ideo-Motor dyspraxia
Difficulty with executing a plan, even though it is known.


Assessment and diagnosis
Assessments for dyspraxia typically require a developmental history, detailing ages at which significant developmental milestones, such as crawling and walking, occurred. Motor skills screening includes activities designed to indicate dyspraxia, including balancing, physical sequencing, touch sensitivity, and variations on walking activities. A baseline motor assessment establishes the starting point for developmental intervention programs. Comparing children to normal rates of development may help to establish areas of significant difficulty.

However, research in the BJSE has shown that knowledge is severely limited in many who should be trained to recognise and respond to various difficulties, including Developmental Coordination Disorder, Dyslexia and DAMP. The earlier that difficulties are noted and timely assessments occur, the quicker intervention can begin. A teacher or GP could miss a diagnosis if they are only applying a cursory knowledge.

"Teachers will not be able to recognise or accommodate the child with learning difficulties in class if their knowledge is limited. Similarly GPs will find it difficult to detect and appropriately refer children with learning difficulties."


Developmental profiles
Various areas of development can be affected by developmental dyspraxia and many or all can persist into adulthood. Often various coping strategies are developed, and these can be enhanced through physiotherapy.


Speech and language
Developmental verbal dyspraxia is a type of ideational dyspraxia, causing linguistic or phonological impairment. This is the favoured term in the UK; however it is also sometimes referred to as articulatory dyspraxia and in the USA the usual term is apraxia of speech [5]. Key problems include:

Difficulties controlling the speech organs.
Difficulties making speech sounds
Difficulty sequencing sounds
Within a word
Forming words into sentences
Difficulty controlling breathing and phonation.
Slow language development.
Difficulty with feeding.

Fine motor control
Difficulties with fine motor co-ordination lead to problems with handwriting, which may be due to either ideational or ideo-motor difficulties. Problems associated with this area may include:

Learning basic movement patterns.
Developing a desired writing speed.
The acquisition of graphemes – e.g. the letters of the Latin alphabet, as well as numbers.
Establishing the correct pencil grip
Hand aching while writing

Whole body movement, coordination, and body image
Issues with gross motor coordination mean that major developmental targets including walking, running, climbing and jumping are affected. One area of difficulty involves associative movement, where a passive part of the body moves or twitches in response to a movement in an active part. For example, the support arm and hand twitching as the dominant arm and hand move, or hands turning inwards or outwards to correspond with movements of the feet. Problems associated with this area may include:

Poor timing.
Poor balance (sometimes even falling over in mid-step). Tripping over one's own feet is also not uncommon.
Difficulty combining movements into a controlled sequence.
Difficulty remembering the next movement in a sequence.
Problems with spatial awareness, or proprioception.
Some people with dyspraxia have trouble picking up and holding onto simple objects due to poor muscle tone.
This disorder can cause an individual to be clumsy to the point of knocking things over and bumping into people accidentally.
Some dyspraxics have difficulty in determining left from right.
Cross-laterality, ambidexterity, and a shift in the preferred hand are also common in people with dyspraxia.[citation needed]
Dyspraxics may also have trouble determining the distance between them and other objects.[citation needed]

General difficulties
Dyspraxic people may have Sensory Integration Dysfunction, a condition that creates abnormal oversensitivity or undersensitivity to physical stimuli, such as touch, light, and sound[citation needed]. This may manifest itself as an inability to tolerate certain textures such as sandpaper or certain fabrics and including oral toleration of excessively textured food (commonly known as picky eating), or even being touched by another individual (in the case of touch oversensitivity) or may require the consistent use of sunglasses outdoors since sunlight may be intense enough to cause discomfort to a dyspraxic (in the case of light oversensitivity). An aversion to loud music and naturally loud environments (such as clubs and bars) is typical behavior of a dyspraxic individual who suffers from auditory oversensitivity, while only being comfortable in unusually warm or cold environments is typical of a dyspraxic with temperature oversensitivity.

Dyspraxic people sometimes have difficulty moderating the amount of sensory information that their body is constantly sending them, so as a result these people are prone to panic attacks[citation needed]. Having other autistic traits (which is common with dyspraxia and related conditions[citation needed]) may also contribute to sensory-induced panic attacks.

Moderate to extreme difficulty doing physical tasks is experienced by dyspraxics, and fatigue is common because so much extra energy is expended while trying to execute physical movements correctly.[6] Some (but not all) dyspraxics suffer from hypotonia, which in this case is chronically low muscle tone caused by dyspraxia[citation needed]. People with this condition have very low muscle strength and endurance (even in comparison with other dyspraxics) and even the simplest physical activities may quickly cause soreness and fatigue, depending on the severity of the hypotonia. Hypotonia may worsen a dyspraxic's already poor balance to the point where it is necessary to constantly lean on sturdy objects for support[citation needed].


Overlap with other conditions
Dyspraxics may have other difficulties that are not due to dyspraxia itself but often co-exist with it. They may have characteristics of dyslexia (difficulty with reading and spelling), dyscalculia (difficulty with mathematics), expressive language disorder (difficulty with verbal expression), ADHD (poor attention span), or Asperger syndrome (poor social cognition and a literal understanding of language, making it hard to understand idioms or sarcasm). However, they are unlikely to have problems in all of these areas. The pattern of difficulty varies widely from person to person, and it is important to understand that a major weakness for one dyspraxic can be a strength or gift for another. For example, while some dyspraxics have difficulty with reading and spelling due to an overlap with dyslexia, or numeracy due to an overlap with dyscalculia, others may have brilliant reading and spelling or mathematical abilities. Similarly, some have autistic traits such as lacking an appreciation of irony or social cues, while others thrive on an ironic sense of humour as a bonding tool and a means of coping.

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