Response from the Dyspraxia Foundation following the Daily Telegraph report “Diagnosed too early” (September 2 2016)

A report published in the Daily Telegraph has expressed concern that learning difficulties are being over diagnosed in children who start school with poor movement skills due to lack of practice at home.

The Dyspraxia Foundation believes that all pre-school children should be encouraged to participate in a range of movement opportunities to develop their motor skills.

It is important to recognise that social and environmental factors may limit children’s opportunities to master skills such as using scissors, throwing and catching a ball and learning to ride a bike before they start school.

It is also important to recognise that some children’s motor skills difficulties are the result of a recognised neurological condition. DCD/Dyspraxia is one of the most common developmental disorders, affecting gross and fine motor coordination, organisational skills, processing speed and, in some cases speech. These difficulties make it difficult for people to carry out everyday activities that others take for granted, such as climbing stairs, using cutlery, writing and taking down a telephone message.

DCD/Dyspraxia can affect people of all backgrounds. Most people affected are of average to above-average intelligence and can achieve well academically, but the right support is crucial for building self-esteem and life skills.

We support European Guidelines stating that DCD/dyspraxia should not usually be diagnosed in children under the age of 5 years http://www.movementmattersuk.org/content/documents/Revised%20EACD%20UK%20Recommendations%20Pocket%20Guidelines.pdf

This recommendation is made because children’s motor development varies considerably in the early years making it difficult to determine whether a child has a movement disorder or is delayed because of lack of opportunity.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the extended use of baby carriers (meaning that infants remain in one supported position when moved from car to buggy to the house), the use of laminate flooring (making it more difficult for children to crawl) and parents’ anxiety about putting babies on their tummies to play (because of the ‘back to sleep’ campaign) might be hindering movement development in some young children.

Parents and professionals who are concerned about a child’s motor development might wish to consult the Dyspraxia Foundation Early Years Guidelines http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Early-Years-Guidelines.pdf which includes recommendations that will benefit children who have a motor delay and those who might later be diagnosed with a movement disorder (DCD/dyspraxia)

Parents who are concerned about their young child’s motor development should seek advice from their Health Visitor who will refer on to specialist services (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy) for further assessment if required.

For more information, please contact Dr Sally Payne of the Dyspraxia Foundation.

 Dyspraxia Foundation, 8 West Alley, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1EG

Telephone:  01462 455016

Email: admin@dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk

Website:        www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk

 NOTES

The Dyspraxia Foundation is the UK’s only national charity providing information and support on DCD/Dyspraxia.