Dyspraxia Foundation survey highlights national support needed for teenagers in Dyspraixa Awareness Week
Teenagers across the country could be facing a frightening future of unemployment and loneliness due to a worrying lack of support and awareness of the common – yet often unrecognised – condition, dyspraxia.
Research has shown that children with dyspraxia are five times more likely to suffer from psychiatric problems than the average child by the time they reach the age of 16. Other studies have found twenty per cent of the prison population had some form of “hidden disability” (including dyspraxia, dyslexia and dyscalculia) that would affect and undermine their performance in academic and work settings.
Rachel Matthews from Hertfordshire said:" I am 18 now and through school and college I can only name five teachers/tutors who have understood about what dyspraxia is and tried to help me......people think you grow out of it and you don't, this chaotic head is for life but with help and support I know I can do well - without it I don't know how I will end up."
Ben Smith, aged 17, a sixth form student from the West Midlands said: "I have been one of the lucky ones and received good support from my school and college to understand the condition. I have found teachers who allow me to work in the way that suits me. I generally use a laptop for lessons as I have writing problems and when we are set tasks they have been adapted to suit my needs. For instance when the class were asked to do a poster about saving energy I was allowed to do a board game."
The Dyspraxia Foundation charity today released results from a national consultation highlighting the complex problems teenagers and young people with dyspraxia face in coping with their daily lives for Awareness Week starting on Monday 12 October.
The results show that 60% have never been offered professional support to help them with the challenges they face when growing up such as coping with the demands of higher education, finding a job and developing independence skills such as cooking and shopping.
92% of the young people involved felt that they needed support that was different to that available for younger children while 35% felt that dyspraxia was likely to become a barrier to them in their chosen career.
Over half (57%) found it difficult to make and maintain friendships.
Dyspraxia affects up to six per cent of the population and up to two per cent severely. Boys are three times more likely to be affected than girls Foundation Chair Sally Payne said: "These results confirm a staggering lack of support available to young people with dyspraxia who often become isolated and lonely as it is difficult for them to get help in higher education or assistance in their first jobs. We want to see major improvements made in the support available to help these young people lead normal lives and reach their full potential.”
The Dyspraxia Foundation has launched a year-long campaign to raise awareness of the issues that are of particular concern to teenagers and young adults with dyspraxia. The consultation will continue throughout the year to help the Dyspraxia Foundation develop strategies and resources to address the specific needs of teenagers and young adults.
Developmental dyspraxia is an impairment of the organisation of movement – which can lead to problems with co-ordination, fine motor skills, language, thought and perception. It can cause great difficulties in coping with simple day-to-day tasks most of us take for granted, including:
• Walking up and down stairs
• Tying shoe-laces
• Forming and maintaining relationships
• Writing job application forms
• Remembering more than two or three instructions at once
This week the Dyspraxia Foundation is also launching some “Secondary School Guidelines" for teachers to complement the primary school classroom guidelines published by the Foundation last year. This was in response to the findings of a national poll that highlighted a worrying lack of awareness of dyspraxia within schools.
The new school guidelines focus attention on aspects of organisation and learning which present significant difficulties for young people with dyspraxia.
The Secondary Classroom Guidelines can be found on the Foundation’s website www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk along with an article focussing on teenagers’ issues which was recently published in SEN Magazine.
The annual campaign will seek to raise awareness of the condition among employers, careers advisors and teaching and health care professionals, outlining the early signs and symptoms. While there is no cure for dyspraxia, with an early diagnosis and appropriate support, the lives of those living with the condition - and their families - can be made much easier.
For more information about the condition or to arrange an interview/feature before or during Awareness Week, please contact the Dyspraxia Foundation Office on 01462 455016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rachel Matthews will be available for interview.
Notes to editors:
1 Further details of the research studies are available from the Foundation Office
Behaviour and emotional health
Missiuna, Moll, King et al. 2007 explored parents' perspectives on the impact of DCD on their children's health and well-being through a series of in-depth interviews and questionnaires. Six of the 13 children in this study were aged 10 or above. Parents of the older children reported more concerns about their child's emotional health than their motor, self-care or academic difficulties. Four of the six families had sought help from professionals regarding their child's emotional well-being and the two oldest children had been diagnosed with features of anxiety and depression.
Similar concerns about the long term effects of motor coordination difficulties on children's emotional health were raised in a series of longitudinal studies in Sweden. Researchers followed up a group of children identified at 7 years of age as having deficits in attention, motor control and perception (DAMP). Included in this project were children with motor perception dysfunction and attentional deficit disorder (MPD/ADD) and those with attentional deficit disorder (ADD) or motor perception dysfunction (MPD) alone. 37 children with MPD/ADD, 5 children with MPD and 10 children with ADD were followed up at 13 years of age (Gillberg and Gillberg 1989) to explore school achievement and behaviour. Various teachers', parents' and self-rating scales were used to assess behaviour problems among the study and comparison groups. At age 13, 60% of children in the study group had behavioural problems compared to 25% of the control group. These included daydreaming, antisocial behaviours and depressed mood. Further follow-up of these children at 16 years of age (Hellgren, Gillberg and Gillberg 1994) found that more than half of the study group had a psychiatric or personality disorder compared to around one tenth of the control group. The most recent paper describing this group at 22 years of age provided further evidence that the children with combined DCD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) had much poorer outcomes than those with ADHD alone (Rasmussen and Gillberg 2000).
Missiuna, C., Moll, S., King, G. and Law, M. (2007) 'A Trajectory of Troubles: Parents' Impressions of the Impact of Developmental Coordination Disorder.' Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics 27, (1) 81-101
Gillberg, I. C. and Gillberg, C. (1989) 'Children with Preschool Minor Neurodevelopmental Disorders Iv: Behaviour and School Achievement at Age 13.' Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 31, (3-13)
Rasmussen, P. and Gillberg, C. (2000) 'Natural Outcome of Adhd with Developmental Coordination Disorder at Age 22 Years: A Controlled, Longitudinal, Community-Based Study.' Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 39, (11) 1424-1431
Hellgren, L., Gillberg, C. and Gillberg, I C. (1994) 'Children with Deficits in Attention, Motor Control and Perception (Damp) Almost Grown Up: The Contribution of Various Background Factors to Outcome at Age 16 Years.' European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 3, (1) 1-15
Research funded by the Learning and Skills Council in 8 prisons in Yorkshire during 2003/4 found that 20% of the prison population had some form of “hidden disability” (including dyspraxia, dyslexia and dyscalculia) that would affect and undermine their performance in academic and work settings.
3 To help teenagers and young adults with dyspraxia, the Dyspraxia Foundation has developed a range of materials, including:
v Advice regarding daily life skills
v Advice for employees and employers
v The Access to Work initiative
v Getting extra help with exams ( England , Wales & Scotland )
v Support for people in Higher Education
Visit: www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk to download these and other resources