At the same time, teachers are expected to meet the needs of more students with a wider range of strengths and difficulties in their classrooms. It is essential, therefore, that the health, education and the voluntary sectors work together to support young people with dyspraxia, particularly during their formative primary school years. Occupational therapists are the health professional most likely to be involved with children with DCD and they play an important role in its diagnosis and treatment.
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Even when a child with coordination and organisational difficulties does not receive a diagnosis, occupational therapists can help by addressing the presenting functional difficulties and identifying ways to enable the young person to carry out important activities of daily living at home, at school and in their leisure time, or by referring on to other agencies where appropriate. Occupational therapists typically begin their assessment by identifying the everyday activities that a young person does well and those that they find difficult.
For children with dyspraxia these factors might include poor balance and core stability, limited hand and grip strength, poor spatial awareness and difficulty sequencing movements in the right order to complete a task. Problems with working memory, planning and attention might also be identified.
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Interventions offered by occupational therapists fall into three categories: Individual skills The first group of interventions focus on the individual, for example developing gross and fine motor coordination, using both hands together and developing hand strength. Occupational therapists also think ahead, helping children to develop the foundation skills that they will need to manage more complex activities as they get older.
This is particularly important for children with coordination difficulties who need extra opportunities to practice and master skills compared to their peers.
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Activities The second area of intervention focuses on activities such as pencil grip and control, using cutlery and getting dressed. Difficulties might be addressed by recommending alternative equipment or finding another way of achieving the task.
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Environment The final avenue for intervention is the environment. Environmental interventions include organising equipment so that it is easier for the child to find or reach, recommending more suitable seating or providing training so that the adults who live and work with the child respond to their needs with greater understanding. Whatever the intervention approach, the aim is to enable children to master and carry out the meaningful, functional activities that make up their daily routines at home, at school and at play now and in the future. Partnership working between therapists, young people, families and teachers is key to the Children and Families Act aim of producing better outcomes for young people with SEN and disabilities, including those with dyspraxia.
One confusing aspect of dyspraxia is that no two people with dyspraxia are the same, as each individual has a unique set of strengths, difficulties, motivations and circumstances.
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