Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Is It OCD (Dyspraxia, Dyslexia) by  Dyslexia Dublin © 2017



Many Dyslexics have a compulsion with time, efficiency and structure, are they all suffering OCD.
Probably not, short term memory deficiency often found in dyslexia and dyspraxia cause huge problems with short term memory.
Our processing needs to be repetitively poked with instruction if we are to get things right, such as shopping or information given off the cuff.
How do we give off the same traits as someone with OCD!
What is OCD!
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a neurological disorder and is often plagued by self-doubt and intrusive thought process.
This can lead to anxiety and in worse case depression.
The repetition can be brought about by self-doubt and lack of awareness.
The list of noticeable compulsions is lengthy:
Excessive hand washing and general hygiene (fear of contamination)
Obsessive hoarding
Constantly preoccupied
The need for symmetry (even numbers)
Nervous behaviour
Obsessively enquiring about going to and coming from places
Checking and re-checking doors are locked, lights and sockets are switched off.
Checking bag or pockets for keys, purse or wallet.
Many with dyspraxia and dyslexia can be incorrectly labelled OCD
We each give off certain OCD traits due to the need to correct a short term memory deficiency (coping strategy).
If we don’t have structure and routine we forget so many things such as:
School Books, clothing, car keys, phones, people's names, etc
We tend by nature to be easily distracted, and this can affect us in regards to skipping our routine.
We need to make lists for various things.
Children often correct work that is okay, they always wear out their rubber long before a pen!
Dyslexics and dyspraxics are not time aware and will constantly ask the time (sand timers can help).
If someone gives an idea and its logical, it sticks.
We also very much are monkey see monkey do, we can pick up repetitive habits this way too.
People with processing issues such as those with dyslexia and dyspraxia can be brought out of any of the above, time and practice is required.
It’s also important for parents to avoid the chance of many of the above happening and this once aware be picked up before they become habit forming.

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Toby Lee, Dublin CETC © 2017
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

How is Confidence and Self Esteem affected by Dyspraxia, (DCD), Dyslexia and other specific learning needs by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017 

Confidence and achievement is everything… we can all do our own personal SWAT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats)… just take a look what you are good at, what do you struggle with? Can you do everything you need to do?

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How easy is it to lose your confidence… imagine yourself down a hole and every time you stick your head out, someone hits it with a stick or shouts at you.  How many would still continue to pop their head up?
Many with dyspraxia have days, weeks, months and years like this and children with dyspraxia dealing with learning needs, maturity and skill building have these problems to face.
Dyspraxics generally have reduced ability when it comes to co-ordinated skills (gross and fine motor) such as sport and dance and this in itself multiplies the time required to carry out a given task that can be mastered by others in the shortest (one or two attempts) period of time.  Quite often we, as parents, fail to recognise this as a problem and fall short in time/tolerance required to help our children develop the required skill or skill sets.  Our parent's may considered spending the same amount of time teaching us how to ride our bike, as they would with siblings (brother sister), whereas in fact we often  require up to four times longer to grasp that particular concept.  It’s important for parents not to tire and make sure to give their children this extra time and remember… praxis makes perfect! It would be similar for those with dyslexia as we utilize areas of the brain that process all learnt material (instruction) our processing speed is known to be much slower, hence the required prolonged lessons and practice.
How does this impact on our child’s confidence and low self-esteem?
How do we go about assessing this lack of belief?
How do we address this area and encourage self-belief?
How can we make them feel good about themselves without feeling patronised?

Gross and Fine Motor Skills, Motor Planning and Organisation of Movement.
For a start we need to give due importance to the area of gross/fine/motor/organisation by taking time to work on these areas. This is a real issue and affects self confidence in most of our daily lives as a dyspraxic and also for those with SPD and hyper mobility.
DCD can confuse many, from Ed Psych’s, friends, teachers and even close family members, all can appear fine for the short time we are in others company and this can be a problem in itself.   Quite often we seem just like those without DCD when we are sitting or are relatively stationary… however, the very second we  have to carry out a task we fall apart… for example, walking with a cup and we drop it, or walk into someone.
We are all aware that DCD (dyspraxia) is a motor, planning and co-ordination disorder.
The disorder can range from mild to severe.  It runs in families and can be co-morbid, which often means many will have elements of hyper mobility, dyslexia, dysgraphia (writing/comprehension), dyscalculia (maths) sensory processing, social communications disorder (DSM5).  Most will have poor memory and memory recall.  Others may present with mild dyspraxia and no other traits.
Presentation of DCD is so variable in its spectrum and has a very wide range of limitation/delay in co-ordination, planning and motor skill.  It can range from very moderate to severe… some would be good at sport and others would struggle, the same would be the case for academia.
The child could be fine in the early stages with limited concern shown by the parent, especially if they happen to be the first born so there is no benchmark set and familiar milestones hit by an older sibling, ie. walking, talking, eating, kicking and catching a ball.
We can also see problems with speech and language... quite often we witness a delay in speech which can so often slow the introduction to reading/spelling and indeed writing, into the early years of school.
Dyspraxia (DCD) affects around 1 in 8 school-age children and likewise adults, around the world.  There is a variation to this, so I am going with an average figure.  We also know that it affects far more boys than girls… statistics show around 80% are boys, although in my personal opinion, I feel the gap may well be closer in reality.  The reason I feel this to be the case is that boys tend to show frustration and meltdown whereas girls tend to internalise and just get on with it, which can result in more boys being diagnosed. 
So what do we do to keep confidence and self-belief high?
Firstly I want to say don’t give praise where it is not due… it must be genuine.
Take everything that has to be learnt very slowly and then praise, praise, praise!
During the early days put them in a baby walker, as this helps develop leg movement (gross motor skill).
Spend time helping them to crawl and walk by letting them mimic you.
When they start to feed themselves encourage this but give them easy things to eat (nice bright carrot stick)… pieces of apple will help with fine motor skill… feed them every other piece to reduce frustration.
Make lots of funny faces to encourage smiling and always use a cup and then a straw to drink through, as this will help facial muscle tone and early speech.
Try and get them to improve core muscles by getting them on their tummies and looking up… this will strengthen their back and shoulders.  This will also help posture when they start sitting more frequently.
When they are ready to play, roll a ball to them… this will help eye hand co-ordination.
All of the former is important. Make sure you check out their dominant side too… how do they move? Is it left hand or right first (crawling)? Which leg leads, if already walking? It is so important to figure out their dominant side to make writing etc. easier later on… many pick up the pencil in both hands and often use their non-dominant side to write with (less control)!
We also find placing things in order or stacking difficult, due to the planning/processing side of the condition.
With the singular focus that we have as a result of being dyspraxic, we struggle with multi co-ordination on a variety of fronts, like climbing stairs, running, hopping, and jumping, co-ordinating limbs to dress (shirts, trousers, socks, etc.)
We can also have difficulty chewing solid food, due to hyper-sensitive gag reflex (tough meat and fibrous fruit like pears and fish too) and sensory processing problems.
There is a high incidence of ambidexterity in dyxpraxics and this could be down to planning/processing at an early stage (dyspraxic children often pick the pen up with the nearest hand and proceed to write or draw… this could then become ingrained). This often leads to indifferent writing techniques and poor writing skill.  Let your child know you make mistakes also...none of us are perfect, laugh at your mistakes by all means bur don't laugh at theirs.
This all leads to problems performing daily activities and many of our personal routines like getting dressed.
Due to required repetition, a far greater time is required to master new skills and skill sets (tying shoelaces, fastening buttons, zips, etc).
Tripping and falling due to lack of concentration and poor balance, even standing still and the occasional wobble, can all make us look very clumsy.
We tend to have a far slower rate of maturity due to most of the above and this can lead to voluntary and involuntary isolation.  If we are on our own we feel less pressured to perform and no one witnesses our mistakes.  However I must express this is not a good thing. As a result, we tend to hand around or play with children much younger than us.
I have written many articles on anger and frustration and this all goes alongside dyspraxia. It’s no surprise we beat ourselves up over the slightest mistake and also as a result of being constantly pulled up and criticised by our peers/family members.
We have a very singular focus and this in turn causes poor concentration and listening skills… we also find it hard to follow verbal and written instruction, it is much easier to watch and learn or follow pictograms.
In adulthood this can often be the case with D.I.Y… we would prefer to follow the picture on the box than read the instructions inside (right brained).
It can cause problems with learning to drive (see article on Learning to Drive with Specific Learning Needs by Toby Lee).
Anger and frustration.
If you suspect any of the symptoms of dyspraxia, I would recommend you seeing an OT or Ed. Psych.  II would stress it is important to get a good assessor, as one that doesn’t know dyspraxia could miss some of the signs or might not apply the correct conditions to show that your child has dyspraxia.
You could also find during the assessment your child might have dyslexia/dysgraphia or dyscalculia…these are co-morbid conditions that can also shadow dyspraxia…ADD…ADHD and ASD.
It is so important to be prepared before you see anyone for a diagnosis… observe your child and draw up a list of issues, make a note of milestones like walking/talking, etc.
 Motor problems of children with DCD persist at least into adolescence, although it weakens as we come to terms with routine and we no longer need to be competitive, like running around the school yard or taking part in sport.  Friend with us on facebook or follow us at twitter @ dyslexiadublin



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Friday, 3 March 2017

Developmental Delays and Missing Milestones (DCD, Dyslexia, ADHD and SPD) by Dyslexia Dublin © 2017

We often wonder about development in our children, like when should they sit, crawl, walk and talk.
We know from being around people we are all different in so many respects, but in the main areas like sitting, crawling, walking etc. we are pretty predictable.  So why do some of us appear to be later at hitting these nonetheless important milestones?  

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There are four milestones that we are concerned with in early child development and they are - Motor Development both fine and gross (movement of limbs and core), Cognitive (thinking), Communication (speech development and basic understanding of needs) and Social and Emotional (engaging with others).  It’s worth mentioning that there are parameters in normal development and we should only get concerned if we get well past these dates (walking between 10 and 18 months).  Now let’s take a closer look…
We know in the case of DCD (developmental co-ordination disorder) that due to the nature of the syndrome, we are likely to fall short on many of our aforementioned milestones.
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One answer could be we quite possibly try to bite off more than we are able to chew.  One of the most unfortunate things is memory and if we all stop for a minute… how far can you remember back to?  Was it five or six? maybe not as far back as that.  Few of us can go back to the point where we should have hit certain milestones… it would be great if we could. We would be able to explain to our peers why we find these complex hurdles so problematic.
I once heard that if it takes someone without a learning need x time to learn a new skill then multiply that by 4 for someone with a learning need… so did it takes us a few months to figure out how to crawl?  Then it would take up to 8 months longer for someone say with DCD to learn to crawl.  I bum shuffled and never crawled.
Back to what I started to say earlier… maybe there is a possibility that we find crawling very complex and would have fared better if we had the ability then to break it down to arm movements and then followed by the leg movement. I know this was the case when I learnt to swim… I just couldn’t get the whole front crawl thing in one go and to this day I only do the breast stroke as I find the whole leg-arm and breathing thing in the front crawl far too much to take on.
This planning can also apply to social interaction and conversational fluency in such things as Asperger’s (DSM5) and Dyslexia. These can be further inhibited by destructive criticism and low self-esteem which causes us to withdraw from the vary areas that would aid our development.
Much of our learnt behaviour comes from listening to others through our visual or auditory channel, however those with DCD learn far more from watching and it’s important the person showing the tasks understands the need to slow the process down and make it repetitive for a successful outcome.
DCD and Dyslexia are things that never leave us but we can minimise their impact with time and the right help.
You may have heard me mention in previous articles that both Dyslexics and Dyspraxics have great imagination and superb long term memories, this all helps to build up our required skill sets.  Quite often we would fall short on our immediate memory and memory recall; this is due to lack of understanding in presented tasks and also through lack of stimulation. We like to use imaginative play like that in Lego, puzzles, things that are colourful, creative and can fuel our imagination.
You don’t have to look far for someone else with dyspraxia or dyslexia, as it affects between 6 and 10% of the population.
We can also have delayed speech due to poor facial muscle tone and the co-ordination required to produce early words, again time spent working with us on a one-to-one basis reaps great results (speech and language therapy).  We benefit from over learning these early routines; practice.
We generally show early signs of inactivity and later appear to be very clumsy, hence the early title for dyspraxia of clumsy child syndrome.
There also appears a link between dyslexia and dyspraxia to justify thoughts of some, but not all, that both have an impairment/deficit in the cerebellar area of the brain, which controls much of our motor skill including posture, limb movement and eye hand co-ordination and this can affect phonological processing (vagueness of new and unfamiliar words)  and hand writing. This can also lead to frustration and would lead many to believe that this could include ADHD.
The cerebellar is the main controller in planning and motor control but not the initiator, this occurs in other areas of the brain.  The cerebellar does the fine tuning making our actions smoother and more deliberate.  This is a good pointer towards dyspraxics like myself being clumsy on occasions… I can overcome this, as can many like me, by slowing things down, practicing and concentrating when carrying out tasks.  We can also include balance etc., as the receptors in the body suddenly recognise rapid changes in limb movements, such as coming downstairs carrying something (constant weight changes), signals to the brain and the cerebellar makes the required change rapidly… in dyspraxics this has to be adjusted as we go and is far from automatic.
We can also count SPD in on this, we rely on receptors to calculate high, medium and low tolerance, especially where temperature is concerned.  We can all relate to being in a room where one of us is too hot, one too cold and another quite happy with the temperature… maybe you have never associated this with sensory processing disorder.
The cerebellar also plays an important role in improving co-ordination.  An example would be catching a ball… each time we try to catch, this important area of the brain would try to make adjustments, along with the eye and hand, until the technique is mastered.
The cerebellar is virtually the last area of our brain to mature and can go some way to explaining why many feel that DCD ebbs with age!
There is growing evidence to point to the importance of early intervention whilst the cerebellar and other areas are developing (plasticity), as opposed to later in life when the corrective actions take far longer to implant (requirement to over learn).
Thankfully, there is plenty of information on all the above and great resources available to help improve skill sets.
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