Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia
Learning that your child has a developmental disorder is something most parents dread hearing.
But as we learn more about conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, the more it becomes clear that we should be viewing such conditions simply as learning ‘differences’ or ‘challenges’.
None of these conditions need to be a barrier to success and with the right type of education, children can go on to became very accomplished students.
We look at what it means to have a developmental disorder and what parents can do to ensure their children still reach full potential.
One of the most wide-spread developmental disorders, dyslexia is thought to affect around 10% of the population.
The condition refers to difficulties with written language, so spelling, writing and comprehension are all much harder for the dyslexic.
Unfortunately for many students of the past, education used to be based around writing and spelling. These were the ‘key skills’ that were valued above all others, and this naturally meant that dyslexics were at a severe disadvantage.
Over time, the education system has stopped classifying dyslexics as simply poor students and started to acknowledge and research the condition.
There is now a lot known about dyslexia, meaning that there is now a wide range of specialist teachers ready to help. Most schools now have provision for dyslexics and there are also some great specialist schools and organisations that can help.
One early sign of dyslexia is a delayed onset of speech. But the real effects are clear when a child starts education. Their reading, spelling and writing skills will progress slowly. More specifically, children may often make mistakes such as writing letters back-to-front or even missing out whole words or sections of words.
Being a slow reader or a general lack of academic ability is quite different to dyslexia and so it is important to talk to your children’s teachers and arrange for a diagnosis.
Early intervention is essential, not only for your child’s academic progress but also for their self-esteem.
Once the child has a diagnosis, it may well be that your education establishment will be able to offer your child help. If you need more advice, there are also numerous charities that you can turn to and the web is full of advice.
Famous People with Dyslexia
• Whoopi Goldberg
• Jennifer Aniston
• Pablo Picasso
• Andy Warhol
• Muhammad Ali
• Richard Branson
The main symptoms of dyspraxia are related to movement and physical co-ordination.
In the olden days, we would have simply labelled children with dyspraxia as ‘clumsy’. However, research has shown that dyspraxia means that several major developmental milestones are harder to achieve, such as taking our first steps or learning to walk up and down stairs.
In the classroom, dyspraxia can affect planning, handwriting, concentration and tasks that require short term memory.
Again, an early diagnosis can lead to better outcomes. The first signs are clumsiness and difficulties with tasks such as buttoning shirts or tying shoelaces.
Dyspraxia is less prevalent and often co-occurs with other developmental conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia. A trip to the doctor might be a good idea so you can be referred to a healthcare professional.
Talking to your child’s school is also a good idea. In fact, often it will be the school that informs you that additional help may be needed.
There are two ways of treating dyspraxia, both of which show good results.
The traditional way is to deal with the underlying issues and to help children learn to co-ordinate themselves more effectively. But a new method, which provides quick results, is a task based method. With this method, children and a healthcare professional identify tasks that children struggle with. They then jointly discuss possible solutions before setting goals to aim for.
Famous People with Dyspraxia
• Isaac Newton
• George Orwell
• Ernest Hemmingway
• David Bailey
• Daniel Radcliffe
• Marilyn Monroe
• Stephen Fry
• Robin William
Often confused with dyslexia, dyscalculia is related purely to dealing with numbers.
Children who have dyscalculia find it difficult to understand mathematics and also struggle to remember or do any sort of work involving numbers.
Because the condition often co-occurs with dyslexia, for many years it was thought they were one and the same. However, there are some children who only struggle with numbers and also children who only struggle with reading and writing, which shows they are actually two different conditions.
Research into dyscalculia is in its infancy. Currently a search for ‘dyscalculia’ on the Department for Education’s website returns exactly 0 results! So finding a specialist can be tricky. However, problems with mathematics is not new, even if a name and diagnosis for the condition is, so your child’s school should be able to suggest ways of helping. Accepting your child has difficulties with numbers will help you to be more sympathetic and not make the child feel as though they are letting themselves down.
While treatments and different education patterns are being developed, for the time being it is best to try and work with teachers to ensure your child can at least reach a basic level of maths and find coping strategies that will help with everyday tasks, such as writing down phone numbers rather than trying to remember them or taking a calculator when out shopping. Most of all, accept that numbers are not your child’s strength and do not put pressure on them to be a math’s genius!
Famous people with Dyscalculia
• Henry Winkler
• Mary Tyler Moore
• Albert Einstein
• Bill Gates
The most important thing to remember is that your child does have talents and can excel in education. It might be they excel in one subject rather than across the board or maybe they need a little extra help, but a developmental disorder is not a sign that your child can’t achieve their dreams and live a full and productive life.
To find out more or to get some advice, try these websites:
Related Articles: Learning for the Moment – Mindfulness in Schools