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Helping a Child with Dyspraxia through Multisensory Solutions

Dyspraxia, also known as developmental coordination disorder, affects children in a number of ways that can make everyday activities difficult. There is a variety of types of dyspraxia which affect different areas of coordination:

Oromotor dyspraxia – which can make it difficult to coordinate the muscles needed to pronounce words and can present as slurred or unclear speech.

Constructional dyspraxia - which affects the ability to create, collect, or connect parts in the process of completing a structure.

Postural dyspraxia – which affects spatial awareness, making it difficult to balance, adjust movement, and maintain the body’s centre of gravity. .

Ideational dyspraxia – which impairs the ability to plan and carry out complex sequences of motor actions involving everyday objects and tools.

Ideomotor dyspraxia – which makes imitation of hand gestures difficult or the ability to spontaneously use objects.

Children with dyspraxia can find practical tasks such as holding cutlery, writing, reading, and balancing challenging, as well as routines and sequential activities.

The innovation and development of sensory stimuli can make helping a child with dyspraxia more accessible than ever before. Although there is no cure, there are a number of dyspraxia strategies available. Some Occupational Therapists can help assess your child’s dyspraxia and pinpoint what they need the most support with, while Speech and Language Therapists can work alongside your child to help them develop their communication skills. However, there are also ways of supporting your child at home or supporting students with dyspraxia, using sensory equipment:

Sensory Rooms

One of the most effective dyspraxia aids are multisensory rooms which provide a range of stimuli to help manage motor planning and increase independence for children with dyspraxia. As children with oromotor dyspraxia can experience communication difficulties, sensory rooms are a helpful resource to create a safe and calming space for children to exercise the skills they typically find difficult by using different senses. Having a calming environment to explore these skills can also aid children with emotional intelligence and building resilience when it comes to trying again or managing their own frustrations.

Balance Beams

Postural dyspraxia can affect balance and spatial awareness which might mean children with dyspraxia are clumsier than their peers or have trouble with mobility. Balance beams can be linked to an Interactive Reward System (IRiS). To encourage children with balance difficulties to develop their balancing skills, the IRiS listeners in the room change colour depending on the section of the balance beam the child stands on. This can help make a challenging activity fun and engaging and in turn strengthen the child’s ability to balance and gain better understanding of the relationship between their body and their surroundings.

Bubble Tubes

Children with ideomotor dyspraxia and ideational dyspraxia can struggle with carrying out simple tasks and understanding the relationships in sequences and between cause and effect. Bubble tubes are durable plastic tubes with bubble jets and LED lights, controllable by a remote. They can help individuals with dyspraxia carry out the simple task of using a remote control and seeing the immediate, calming effects of the bubbles as a stand-alone task or to practice sequences and routines in a relaxing environment.

Fibre Optics

Often found in sensory rooms, fibre optics are long strands of LED lights and offer a calming solution to exercising fine motor skills. LED strands and spotlights are a safe, tactile, and visual way to try different grips and explore dexterity in a relaxing way. Fibre optics can help children with dyspraxia to strengthen fine motor skills for holding pens, cutlery and small toys.

Soundboards

Interactive soundboards are picture boards with frames in which to display your own images or words. Children with dyspraxia can use soundboards to help develop their communication skills, decision-making skills, gross and fine motor skills, and number, colour, and shape recognition.

Sensory props are invaluable resources when it comes to supporting a child with dyspraxia. If you’re considering implementing any of these dyspraxia strategies at home or at school, our blog posts on planning and building a sensory room can help you with ideas.

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