Would you know if your child was dyspraxic?
Following a diagnostic assessment on a forty-year-old Mum of three which found her to have dyslexia with co-existing dyspraxia, this was her response:
“I looked up dyspraxia as you mentioned it in the report and that definitely fits for me to a degree but I was shocked that it described my daughter completely! She is above average at school in everything except sports, is 14 still struggling with shoelaces and riding bike etc she has very emotional outbursts still that I know she can't control but just thought she was like me as I struggle with controlling emotions also. I really think I should have her tested as she is starting GCSE this year, her biggest anxiety has always been tests and exams and the school have never supported her with this despite my continuous telling them of her distress. All the school do is moan about her handwriting which is bad and she struggles with speaking clearly, but because she is smart no one has ever suggested getting her tested
She was born two weeks early and very traumatic she did not crawl and has extreme sensitivity to noise and food. I would be interested in your opinion as to the benefits of testing or not.”
This is not untypical for several reasons:
1. 70% of people with dyslexia have at least one co-existing condition (in this case the Mother)
2. The person I did the diagnosis for had not thought she was dyslexic because she could read well and it had never been picked up before
3. She had concerns about her youngest child, but had not mentioned any concerns about her eldest prior to the report
4. The characteristics outlined in her email are strong indications that her daughter has dyspraxia – though obviously it would require a full assessment to be sure.
I’d urge any parent with concerns to at least investigate further. There are lots of good websites and resources, but there is also a great deal of mis-information. Teachers are generally not given training on how to spot or work with specific learning differences such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, so we can’t always blame them. However, if the system of initial teacher training were to include mandatory training on the subject, they could have a much better understanding and be able to support such learners more effectively without the child needing to be labelled.
I offer training to schools, colleges and workplaces, and the ones who have received in-house training or attended workshops, have found it very helpful. They have been able to implement support with little cost. In fact, it could be that any outlay on training and a few resources would soon be re-cooped:
· children would be happier as their learning needs were being met
· they would learn more effectively
· they would become less disruptive or stressed
· less time and effort would be spent on having to manage problems
· the school would be more inclusive which would attract more parents to sending their children there
Regarding the mother thinking she could not be dyslexic as she could read – well that’s another blog.
Before you hit send.....
It can be so easy when you’re really swamped with work; having a difficult week; or are just about to dash off to an important meeting, to whack off a response to an email without really thinking.
I’ve had a difficult week with a bit of a family crisis, but receiving an email from a frantic parent, when I was just about to switch off my computer for the day, made me stop and think.
It was a lengthy email from a mother seeking an assessment for her son. One section really disturbed me: “Indeed, his housemaster's final words to me still haunt me: he feared, he said, that ‘B’ would be incapable of functioning effectively in the world beyond boarding school. There were other damning words from a close relative. Sadly, I often hear such remarks being retold to me by students or their families.
I pride myself on an individual service and this was no exception. I sat back down at my desk and wrote a considered reply. This was her feedback: "What a wonderful, considerate and personalised response! Thank you so much Kris. You have indeed answered all my questions. I should be delighted if you would assess my son and feel instinctively that you will succeed, whatever his reservations, in putting him at his ease upon meeting him..... So much of what you say rings true and hits home - his lack of self-esteem is all too regrettably apparent..."
Hopefully, I can now make a difference to this young man’s life; give him back some self esteem and confidence; motivate him to continue with his studies at University and enable him to realise his potential. If I’d followed my initial instinct - feeling at an especially low ebb and in a bit of a hurry – to send a fairly swift response, I might not have had that chance.
Count to 5 before you send and you too might get the chance to make a difference.
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