I’m not clumsy. I am not stupid and I hate having toothpaste on my shirt.
Understanding Dyspraxia - A parent and teen’s guide
‘Everyone called me stupid, clumsy too. My Mum was worried that sometimes I didn’t think about things like my brother. I was worried about being bullied, losing my football and always having toothpaste on my uniform’. Oliver, 17. UK
When Oliver describes his years in the secondary education system; he looks back with confusion. Oliver, wanted to be the same as everyone else and yet he accepted that some things seemed to be more tricky for him.
Oliver also has been diagnosed with ADHD, which is not uncommon with those diagnosed with Dyspraxia.
Dyspraxia is a Developmental Coordination Disorder or DCD. It affects both children and adults and is commonly diagnosed in boys more than in girls. Both fine motor skills and gross motor skills can be affected, with difficulty in organizing, planning and executing tasks. There can also be increased difficulty with speech, language and thought processing; sometimes with a delay in speech and language development. There can sometimes be co-occurring behavioral difficulties. Dyspraxia affects approx 5% of the population.
Oliver, goes on to explain that he often tried to avoid PE and sports lessons. He often became the subject of jokes or occasionally was in trouble by teaching staff for avoiding games lessons. Oliver felt that he was not understood and that games lessons were both difficult and anxiety provoking.
‘It was tough to see the whiteboard and really hard to copy things down. I always took longer than the others. I hated working in pairs because no one wanted to partner the slow kid’, Oliver reports. Dyspraxia can often make copying and tack orientated activities difficult to follow. Writing can also be slow and more difficult to read than other young people.
If your teenager has symptoms s related to Dyspraxia, you may also notice that they have a shortened attention span, that it is hard for them to follow instructions and that they may appear poorly organized.
Dyspraxia is still under diagnosed in young people. It can remain dormant until adult years. People of any age can be diagnosed (although it is unlikely that those children under 5 would be diagnosed until later in childhood).
Whilst Dyspraxia and the challenges that present are life long; the sooner good treatment is started the more skills can help each young person to adapt. Diagnosed young people are more prone to bullying, depression and anxiety.
Help is available. General practitioners, neurologists and the team at The Wave clinic have experience in helping young people to adapt and develop life skills and coping mechanisms. Whilst there is no cure for Dyspraxia, there are many effective tools. Medication management for co-occurring conditions, can be effective is relieving some of the most pronounced or unpleasant related conditions.
‘I felt better when my depression got easier. The other stuff,well, I am still learning to cope with it. I just hated being called big and clumsy. I have learnt a few skills that help in the moment. I have made some new friends. I am looking forward to uni after a Gap year. So, it does feel like I am getting somewhere’.
If you are concerned about Dyspraxia, behavioral health concerns or ADHD. Please contact our clinical team for advice.