Dyspraxia Help for Parents

There are muscles in the human body whose specific function is to aid children in developing speaking skills. Difficulty to control these muscles could affect a child’s correct pronunciation ability. This difficulty is known as dyspraxia.

“Dyspraxia Defined”

- A normal person’s ability to speak is achieved by quick and precise movements of the very small muscles in the cheeks, lips, tongue, teeth, and soft palate (sometimes referred to as the roof of the mouth).

These small muscles should be moved at the right place in the right time to produce sounds.

- Dyspraxia occurs when sounds are sounds come out inconsistently and with difficulty, words are formed by the mouth without sound, and words are incorrectly pronounced.

- An average of 15 varied sounds are possible per second during normal speech.

- There is variation in the usage of term for this speech difficulty. Although dyspraxia is the most commonly used term, other speech pathologists call it “developmental apraxia of speech” and “developmental verbal apraxia.”

- Children suffering from dyspraxia may also suffer difficulties in attaining balance, motor coordination or body movement, and distinguish where their bodies are in space. They may also have difficulties in writing and reading.

- Dyspraxia is also a term that could be used not only for speech difficulty conditions. It could generally refer to difficulty in controlling and planning the movements of other muscles in the human body.

Symptoms of Dyspraxia

A child with dyspraxia generally displays the following characteristics:

- When they try to talk fast, the sounds or words that come out of their mouth are incoherent and could not be easily understood, particularly to listeners who have a vague idea of what the child is talking about.

- They have a harder time talking to someone they do not know and become anxious in the thought of having to speak to that person.

- When speaking at a normal rate, they have difficulty making out certain sounds of speech.

- They could make out a particular sound or word at one time and have difficulty with the same sound or word the next time they use it.

- When they notice that a person has difficulty in understanding the sound of words coming out of their mouths, they tend to say very little from that point on. They become cautious and may even abruptly stop speaking. This is due to fear of being ridiculed and having their disability noticed.

However, a child with dyspraxia has normal comprehension for his age of what others are saying. The child also uses the same words normally used by other children of his age.

Causes of Dyspraxia

- The cause of dyspraxia remains unknown. What is certain is that it is not a result of “brain damage.”

- A child’s dyspraxia may be hereditary.

- Dyspraxia is often related to such problems as Down’s Syndrome, reading difficulty, developmental delay, and other learning disorders.

- According to research, children who stutter and children who suffer from dyspraxia have similar causes of their speech difficulties.

- Children with dyspraxia do not exhibit difficulty in comprehension and thinking.

Dyspraxia Related Difficulties

- Children with dyspraxia often have difficulty controlling muscles other than those related to speech. This is manifested in their mild clumsiness.

- Sometimes, spelling and reading are difficult also for children with dyspraxia.

- Certain behavior difficulties are sometimes a result of dyspraxia. This is because some children display anger and aggression when others fail to understand what they are saying. Other children become withdrawn and use “standard answers”, rather than risk being ridiculed or misunderstood. These standard answers include “I don’t know”, and vigorously shaking one’s head or shrugging off their shoulders.

- Drooling or dribbling longer than usual is related to dyspraxia.

- During infancy, children with dyspraxia have problems in their intake of solid food. This is because eating uses different tongue and palate movements, as compared to breast-feeding and bottle-feeding.

Possible Therapies for Dyspraxia

- An occupational therapist may be needed for those children who suffer difficulties in such motor tasks as writing, drawing, cutting, etc.

- Children who suffer severe dyspraxia are advised to use hand signs as a temporary way of communicating

- Children who have abundant support often overcome their dyspraxia.

- Another therapy is for these kids to practice listening to the words they say and making out the sounds. This is because most children with dyspraxia are not even aware that they are omitting some sounds when they speak. They have a tendency not to listen carefully to their uttered words.

- Speech pathologists usually use the “Motor Skill Training Approach” in helping children with dyspraxia. This involves making sounds in a rapid and accurate manner. This is because children with dyspraxia have difficulty putting sound into speech at a normal rate. They do not have problems eventually making these sounds, but they have to struggle with timing and easily making the sound.

How Can You Help?

The most important thing for a child with dyspraxia is to make him or her feel good just for the mere fact that he or she is trying to talk.

- Always acknowledge a child’s achievement when he has said something clearly and successfully.

- Be patient. Your child might not be able to come out with the correct sound of a word when he speaks every time he uses the same word. This is because the child has no full control over his ability to make sounds.

- If you understand what your child meant to say even if the sounds made out were unclear, answer his question or expound his topic. Then repeat what he has said using the proper sounds. This is so that the child could clearly hear the correct sound of the words. It also reassures him that you understood what he is trying to say.

- Be your child’s interpreter when you can understand what he is saying when others have a hard time. This is to avoid the buildup of frustration on your child’s part.

- Give them rewards for a job well done. These rewards should not be limited to material things, like food. Your praise for their efforts is very effective.

- Your child needs your enthusiasm in order to enjoy a therapy recommended by speech pathologists. Practice this therapy with your child with vim and vigor.

- Most children with dyspraxia rely on hand signs to make sure that they are understood even if they are not able to speak clearly. Be sure to understand these signs. This helps build their morale by letting them know that they are understood. You do not have to make hand signs when talking to them because children with dyspraxia can understand what is said to them well.

- Frustration and aggression hampers your child’s ability to learn. So, never give him a difficult time by refusing to answer him unless he says the words clearly.