If dyspraxia symptoms are picked up early in life then there is a greater chance of kicking the less good symptoms firmly in the behind. If you, a teacher, or a healthcare professional suspects that your child has dyspraxia/DCD* chances are they have a lot of the following symptoms.
Please don’t feel left out if your little one doesn’t have all of these, but if they have the majority of them then it’s time to take action. Don’t worry–we’ll guide you through.
- Often calls you to wipe them after a toilet visit
- Was slow to learn to walk (most dyspraxics didn’t even crawl much–they are infamous bum shufflers!)
- Was slow to potty train
- Fidgets a lot
- Gets up off the floor in an awkward manner
- Is generally clumsy–falling over, bumping into things, knocking over drinks
- Is unable to tie shoelaces (neither could Einstein, by the way)
- Can’t concentrate for a long period of time
- Needs help to get dressed/undressed
- Is slower at running than friends
- Hasn’t learned to ride a bike
- Is a good reader but lacks comprehension skills
- Looks untidy within a short space of time
- Finds a knife and fork difficult to use
- Has messy handwriting
- Finds it difficult to initiate play or conversations with others
- Can’t catch a ball, or looks awkward doing it
- Is always losing things
- Finds maths a tricky subject
- Is overly sensitive to loud noises such as fireworks, barking dogs and popping balloons
- Can’t carry out instructions that have more than one or two steps
- Can remember very specific details from an event years ago but not the answers to simple maths questions you did five minutes ago
- Is good at looking at things in a different way/an outside-the-box thinker
- Is a visual learner
- Is naturally non-judgemental of others
- Has an amazing imagination
- Is very physically flexible
- Is very inquisitive
- Is good at IT subjects and video games
- Is very creative
- Has a good eye for detail
- Has a very good sense of humour and often makes others laugh
- Is affectionate
- Is much more attractive than other children… no scientific basis for this, but don’t you agree? 🙂
1. Obviously some of these symptoms will depend on age; most five-year-olds probably wouldn’t be able to tie laces, for example. Ask your child’s teacher if you aren’t sure if your child’s abilities are usual for their age.
2. Practice is often the key to mastering basic skills such as ball catching and tying shoelaces, so if you’ve been doing this with your child since they were tiny then these may not be an issue for them now. So take that into account when thinking about the symptoms. My daughter has severe dyspraxia but has never had problems with ball catching and throwing as we’ve played ball games since before she could walk.
3. Dyspraxia likes company. DCD/dyspraxia regularly has friends such as dyscalculia, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and SPD. So if your child has all of the symptoms listed above but isn’t good at reading, for example, then this might indicate dyslexia as well as dyspraxia.
In short, your child need not have all of these symptoms in order to be considered dyspraxic. But if they have most of them then read on…
What To Do Next
If it’s you who suspects dyspraxia then ask to speak to your child’s teacher. If he or she agrees with your observations then you or the teacher might ask to speak to the school’s SENCo (Special Educational Needs Councillor) who can write a letter for you with examples of what symptoms they have noticed in school. You can then take this letter to your GP. Your doctor is likely to take more notice and not just think you are another paranoid parent.
Please try not to cry when you read the letter. It’s likely the first time you’ll see it in black-and-white, and SENCos often exaggerate at this stage in order to try to get the help you need. Your child is still the same adorable child they were before, but now you are a step closer to getting them help.
If you have the letter in your hand then he or she will read this first and then ask you questions of things you’ve noticed at home. You can write these down if it helps you to remember.
Presuming the GP agrees that there is an issue then he or she will likely refer you to the Community Pediatrician. Be prepared for a long wait for an appointment. Also, some areas do things differently and your doctor might refer you directly to an Occupational Therapist (OT) rather than include a pediatrician.
Getting a Dyspraxia Diagnosis
I believe that OTs in some areas can diagnose dyspraxia but this is usually done by the pediatrician.
Be prepared for lots of questions and lots of repetition. Take along your red book if it helps you. You’ll be asked how old your child was when they walked, sat up… everything! They’ll also do the usual weight and height measurements etc., and get your child to walk up and down. Nothing too strenuous.
If they agree that dyspraxia/DCD is the diagnosis then the pediatrician will put this all in writing and send a copy to the school and to the GP. Keep your copy safe and make a copy for the school if needs be–these things often get lost in the system.
Getting Professional Help
The pediatrician will also refer you to relevant healthcare professionals who can help your child such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists. These really do have a long waiting list. Therapists will do their own assessment (but it’s a fun one for kids) with you present, and then they’ll send a report. If they think your child would benefit from a course of therapy then this is usually done in school.
Once the school have the diagnosis letter they can get your child put on the SEN register. The SENCo will then be able to work out ways of helping your child in class, and seeing if they need a teaching assistant for one-to-one help.
Dyspraxia is really common (at least one child in every class has it)–you are definitely not alone. And there are so many ways to help your child cope with the less good symptoms. We have tons of ideas on Dyspraxia Kids, and we are strong believers in positivity. Remember that there are good dyspraxia symptoms too. In fact GCHQ love the minds of dypraxics and dyslexics for their different way of thinking. Embrace the differences–who wants to be normal?!?!?
Many great people have dyspraxia. Dyspraxia presents challenges in life but there is no reason that your child shouldn’t grow up to be whatever it is they want to be. Take a look at our Famous People With Dyspraxia article for a bit of inspiration.
Take a look around our website for some more help and inspiration, or sign up for our free newsletter to keep up to date with our latest articles to help you and your fabulous dyspraxic kid. We’re here with you 🙂
You might also like our article What Is Dyspraxia?
*Dyspraxia and DCD are the same thing and can be used interchangably but a lot of professionals working for the NHS seem to be switching over to calling it DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder).
Man with child in school By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Herrada [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Doctor consults with patient By Bill Branson (Photographer) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons