My final semester as an undergrad was crammed with experiences you might expect of someone full of excitement, optimism, and a lot of what-am-I-going-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life thoughts. Aside from the typical pre-graduation nerves, I—as a childhood education major—was about to reach the height of all of the lesson plan and unit plan writing, fieldwork observations, and hours of late-night studying: the student teaching experience.
Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. Estimates indicate that it affects up to ten percent of the population, and up to two percent severely, but despite its prevalence, dyspraxia remains relatively unknown by most people (even though actor Daniel Radcliffe has publicly discussed his dyspraxia). A little about the disorder:
- Dyspraxia is also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Motor Learning Difficulties, or Perceptuo-Motor Dysfunction.
- Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development and people with the disorder have trouble planning and completing fine motor tasks, such as controlling a pen or pencil, tying shoelaces, or using utensils when eating.
- Symptoms can affect people differently at different stages and severity varies from person to person.
- Although dyspraxia is not a learning disability (LD), features of dyspraxia are often seen in those who struggle with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other conditions that impact learning.
- There is no cure for dyspraxia. However, identifying the disorder early on can help tremendously. Depending on how severe the case is, work with occupational, speech and physical therapists can improve a person’s ability to function and live independently.
Jin, the main character in the middle grade novel The Monster in the Mudball, has dyspraxia (or, as he calls it, “clumsy child syndrome”). Author S.P. Gates was inspired to create a dyspraxic hero because her own son, Alex, is dyspraxic. We asked her to share her insight about dyspraxia and her son’s experience growing up dyspraxic: