Dyspraxia Awareness Week 2017

8th - 14th October

Get Social! Use #Dyspraxia17 on Twitter & Facebook to get involved and interactive with Dyspraxia Awareness Week!

October Membership Offer!

To celebrate Dyspraxia Awareness Week the Dyspraxia Foundation are offering an exclusive membership option. Join us at any time in October for just £15 (usual price £25!) - a saving of 40% - when you signup for our Standard UK or Adult UK membership via Direct Debit!

Members receive an exclusive monthly newsletter, discount for our online shop and conferences and more! See our membership pages for full membership benefits!

Sadly our awareness week membership offer has ended, but you can still join the Dyspraxia Foundation and support us in supporting those with Dyspraxia/DCD and their friends and family. Please see our membership pages for more information.

*Note that membership renews in April 2018 at £25. Full terms and conditions can be found on our membership pages. The offer is for those signing up via Direct Debit only.

Awareness Week Day 7: Saturday 14th

New Information Sheet: Internet Safety

We all know that the Internet is a wonderful resource, millions of snippets of information available to all, but it has its downsides. We understand that it's important to keep safe whilst online and we have produced our own Internet Safety Information Sheet.

Our Information Sheet has a selection of helpful hints and tips for parents on how to enjoy the benefits of the Internet with your children, whilst keeping them safe online!

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We were delighted to receive a cheque for £3,000 on Friday 13th - Fundraising Friday -  from Hitchin Tilehouse Rotary Club as part of the proceeds of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon.

Charity CEO, Eleanor Howes said. "We are extremely grateful to Hitchin Tilehouse for their support of this national charity based in the town center. How appropriate that it was presented on Fundraising Friday as part of Dyspraxia Awareness Week 8 - 14th October. The donation will make a real difference to our work to raise awareness and improve understanding of dyspraxia.

This wonderful donation coincides with a feature on the Victoria Derbyshire programme this morning on BBC2 highlighting the condition which affects up to 5% of the population."

Throughout Dyspraxia Awareness Week we are publishing daily a number of case studies from parents with children with Dyspraxia highlighting the good, the bad, the struggles and the successes of their children during Primary Education and highlight that many are slipping under the radar.

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Isaac, aged 5

Let me tell you about this photo. This photo was taken 5 years ago on the first day in his life that Isaac was not in my sole care, it was his first day at nursery. This photo is jumping ‘across’ tree stumps in your first pair of giant leather school shoes. This photo is brave. This photo used to break my heart. This photo is ‘neurodiversity’. This photo is ‘why didn’t we get his hair cut?’ This photo is a funny, smart, determined little boy. This photo is Dyspraxia. This is what a ‘hidden disability’ looks like.

This week is Dyspraxia Awareness week.  Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that Isaac was diagnosed with this year. Nobody really knows what causes it beyond an immaturity of neurone development and, as with all types of neurodiversity, it is different for everyone. I asked the Dyspraxia Foundation for a handy infographic to share and there aren’t any good ones because it is so complex. But there is no-one with Dyspraxia who doesn’t struggle physically, emotionally and socially almost every day. Given 5-10% of people are believed to have some degree of Dyspraxia I couldn’t believe I had never heard of it.

Read Issac's full story here

Philippa shares a teacher’s point of view

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” A quote by Einstein, which I feel encompasses a child’s daily struggle with DCD in the education system at present. As a teacher, and a mother, I feel I can see it from both sides.

Dyspraxia has a wide and varied ‘blue print’, which means no two children with dyspraxia are the same. They share core ‘dyspraxic traits’, but find different things a struggle – particularly in a classroom environment and I think this does lead too many ‘slipping through the net’.

Dyspraxia encompasses so many different traits – often overlapping with other neuro-diverse conditions, and because of this I feel it is greatly underestimated and misunderstood, leaving many children having to cope in a classroom rather than thrive.

This also causes issues with getting a diagnosis in the first place, many not getting diagnosed until much later in their academic journey. By this point, some children may have already disengaged with certain subjects in school as they have struggled to participate in them. Often, students with Dyspraxia have already become reliant on their memory to remember topics – rather than truly understanding them. Or copying what others are doing as they haven’t fully processed/ been given time to process and sequence what the teacher has asked of them. These intrenched learning habits need careful monitoring by teachers, and a real understanding of the condition is required in order to teach these children in a more appropriate way.

Overcrowded classrooms and a high-pressured curriculum, often leave teachers feeling that they cannot teach to the individual child, or support each child’s unique learning style as effectively as they would like to. As a teacher and a parent – this concerns me greatly. It is definitely an area that needs to change. Having a group of specialised teachers in each school, to help to train and support other staff with neuro-diverse conditions, would benefit students and teachers alike.

In Summary, I feel that there needs to be far greater awareness and knowledge about Dyspraxia, especially in education. Small changes made in the classroom, would impact hugely on a child’s educational experience, and would lead to a happier classroom all round.

Awareness Week Day 6: Friday 13th - Fundraising Friday!!

Victoria Derbyshire 

This morning, we appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC2! If you missed it, don't panic, you can view it on iPlayer for the next 30 days! We appear at around 1H36Mins into the show!

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Friday 13th October is Fundraising Friday! 

Get involved and raise money and awareness for Dyspraxia!

Whatever your are doing today, give us a tweet @DyspraxiaFDTN and/or use the #Dyspraxia17, post to our Facebook Page and we will post the best on our website!

Throughout Dyspraxia Awareness Week we are publishing daily a number of case studies from parents with children with Dyspraxia highlighting the good, the bad, the struggles and the successes of their children during Primary Education and highlight that many are slipping under the radar.

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Dylan, age 7

He is in year 2 at our very small village primary school, there are 11 children in his year group.

Dylan has so far had a very positive experience at school and he absolutely loves it. He was diagnosed with dyspraxia and dyslexia in year one, although his teachers picked up on it very early as a reception child.

Dylan try's so hard at everything he does at school he is an inspiration to watch, he never gets disheartened and puts in 100% all the time.

Over the past few months he has started to notices some differences between himself and his peers and although he sometimes gets frustrated so far it's not putting him off trying. His friends at school have never treated him any different and even when he has special lessons by himself the school have never made a big issue out of it so the other children never blink an eye or even notice that he is completing different pieces of work.

My biggest wish for him is that he keeps his determination to succeed.

I am so proud of the lovely young boy that he is and I am very grateful to his school for everything they do for him daily.

Jacob, Aged 5

Overall, Jacob has had a positive experience despite verbal dyspraxia, has made friends and is ahead in many subjects. He enjoys using his communication board. The negative would be that the teacher is struggling to understand him, its taken a year and a half for the education plan to be put together and he can be quite withdrawn. But he's our beautiful, talented, special boy.

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Caroline, Aged 13

Caroline was diagnosed with dyspraxia relatively early. She was premature and the paediatrician who looked after her had told us it was common in babies born at her gestation (34 weeks) and by the time she was one and not crawling, we knew she was a little different. She was officially diagnosed at 4 so went to school with that already in place. Primary school wasn’t easy. She didn’t make friends. Attempts by the school to force the issue caused her terrible distress. There were other things that no-one had prepared us for – she constantly had threadworms because she chewed everything, (pens and shared equipment went straight in her mouth) and she would sometimes struggle with toileting because she couldn’t always clean herself very well. We always opted for the path of least resistance, so she took a packed lunch that meant she wouldn’t have to carry a tray or deal with cutlery and we kept her hair short so that she could keep herself tidy more easily. If there was an easier way for her to manage something, that’s what we did. She didn’t go on the activity weeks away because she wouldn’t have been able to cope but we found that she could manage short trips with brownies and later guides and that helped to boost her confidence tremendously.

The transition to secondary school was tough. She still struggles to make friends, so we have worked with the Senco at the school to ensure that she has safe places to go at break and lunchtime because we have had issues with bullying. She’s allowed to leave her PE kit in the Senco’s office rather than having to carry it round all day. Half way through year 8, the school finally agreed to let her use a laptop in lessons rather than having to write by hand and that has been really helpful. We had to provide one for her to use, so that’s an expense you need to be prepared for, but if they start using one in lessons at this stage, they can use it for their exams at GCSE and beyond.

Dealing with the staff at secondary level can be tricky. Some of them manage her fantastically well, making sure she has a seat away from the other children, often at the front of the classroom on her own as she struggles to cope with noise. Others don’t know what to do – I’ve had to deal with staff who would send her home every single time she got distressed in their lesson, and a drama teacher who didn’t feel it was necessary to tell us that she had been getting so upset that he had stopped teaching her and she was spending every drama lesson alone in the library. That led to a conversation at parent’s evening that he did not enjoy.

My advice for other parents would be to keep a close eye on your child’s books – look at everything they bring home, even if they don’t like it – and get in touch with senior staff at the school as soon as you have an issue, no matter how minor it is. Don’t be afraid to escalate things to the head of year or even the senior management team. Get them personally involved in making sure your child is having their needs met. Be the parent they dread getting a phone call from! And finally, when things get hard, remind your child that school is not forever, even though it feels like it sometimes.

Awareness Week Day 5: Thursday 12th

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James, age 12

Overall our son’s experience in junior school was a positive one. He is now in year 8 so I am able to offer a perspective not simply in terms of year 1-6 but how this prepared him for senior school. Indeed it was the SENCO who first raised the suggestion that we think about getting a diagnosis, and was hugely supportive to our son, and to us as we worked out how best to support him. She liaised with occupational therapy, and was very supportive of getting the support for him that OT suggested.

As with every school (I assume) there is always going to be a certain emphasis on SATS. Largely this was positive for him, in that the school was concerned to ensure that he was comfortable during the process, and that he was able to demonstrate his knowledge. Again to the credit of the school, and the SENCo, they always emphasised that they were concerned that our son have the opportunity to demonstrate his acquired knowledge as fully as possible, though they were perhaps overly concerned about his handwriting (due to the emphasis on handwriting in SATS), when he had learned to type, and to be blunt we thought the handwriting ship had sailed.

This brings me to what is essentially my only adverse comment on our son’s experience of junior school. To simplify slightly, for literacy, he seemed to be moved between the highest performing group, and the students who were struggling with literacy. His reading age was very high, and his comprehension was good, but when the more advanced groups were focusing on longer pieces of work (not tested in SATS) and constructing more complex arguments, he was removed from this and put in the group focussing on handwriting. As a result he struggled in year 7 with demonstrating his ability and understanding, as he had little practice in constructing longer pieces of work, compared with his peers. This took us most of year 7 to identify the issue, along with what we call “dunnit” – something with which many will identify in 11yo boys, dyspraxia or not !

More generally, this issues that impacted on his experience of junior school were related to PE and similar. At outward bounds type activities the school was hugely supportive, the regular PE teacher (someone who came from the local senior school to take PE) much less so, and several times our son was particularly upset. I am inclined to be charitable and say that this was a learning experience for an NQT, as he seems to focus on the more able BOYS in general. We had isolated incidents with individual, teachers, typically not his class teacher. One who shouted about his dyspraxia across the room – at a time when he did not want it generally known. While clearly the genie was then out of the bottle, the incident was dealt with by the head, with both clarity and sensitivity. Finally, it is important to say that the school identified that our son was part of a small self contained group who were mutually supportive. They ensured that these 4 always shared a room at events away from school, and “looked after each other”. This helped with their mutual empathy and understanding, and they always stood up for each other.

New Information Sheet: Adjustments for PE for those with dyspraxia/DCD

Continuing our awareness week we are proud to launch our second new information sheet aimed at primary schools. Our new information sheet details issues pupils with Dyspraxia/DCD could face whilst taking part in physical education and what can be done to help these pupils take part in these activities.

Download the information sheet today!

I am colour by Gill Dixon

A fundraiser by Boothferry Verses in Goole held on Thursday, 12th October to mark Dyspraxia Awareness Week 8 – 14th October 2017

Trustee Gill Dixon read a poem she had written to mark the week.

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Throughout Dyspraxia Awareness Week we are publishing daily a number of case studies from parents with children with Dyspraxia highlighting the good, the bad, the struggles and the successes of their children during Primary Education and highlight that many are slipping under the radar.

Missed our Awareness Week webinar last night? Don't panic, you can purchase it online via our shop for a limited time. Check out our webinar page for further information!

Awareness Week Day 4: Wednesday 11th

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Dyspraxia Foundation - Points of Light

The Prime Minister has recognised Mikey Akers, aged sixteen, from Coventry, for founding ‘Mikey’s Wish’, an organisation that raises awareness of verbal dyspraxia as well as supporting those who also suffer from the speech disorder.

At an event yesterday (10th October) in Solihull, West Midlands, 55 people attended a free Dyspraxia Awareness talk hosted by the Dyspraxia Foundation. An informative talk from Dr Sally Payne and a heartwarming speech from Dyspraxia Foundation patron Stephanie Guidera was ended by the award presentation to Mikey Akers (pictured).

In a personal letter to Mikey, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“Through ‘Mikey’s Wish’ you are raising the visibility of verbal dyspraxia and ensuring that other people with the condition are supported. You should be incredibly proud of your achievement in creating your own organisation at such a young age, despite your own personal challenges with the condition.”

Mikey said:
“I am surprised and very honoured to be recognised for such a prestigious award from the Prime Minister. All I had been doing was trying to raise awareness of the little known neurological condition, Verbal Dyspraxia, originally so that I didn't feel quite so isolated. I then realised through the responses I received just how much people, and their families, with the same diagnosis needed support.

For full coverage of this event, please see our news pages.

Throughout Dyspraxia Awareness Week we are publishing daily a number of case studies from parents with children with Dyspraxia highlighting the good, the bad, the struggles and the successes of their children during Primary Education and highlight that many are slipping under the radar.

Grace, age 12

Grace left primary school this year. She was diagnosed with DCD and SPD a year ago, after we made an appointment with a private OT. We’d had concerns for quite some time but the school were not sure that anything was wrong. Because Grace was doing so well academically, pretty much top of the class, she didn’t really tick the right boxes for additional support or investigation.

However, whilst she was doing well academically she was extremely unhappy socially. She felt like she never really fitted it. That she didn’t really have any friends. That the other girls thought she was odd, quirky, a bit strange. Right from year one she struggled in group situations. If she didn’t want to play what others were playing she found it hard to go with the flow of the game, preferring to walk away rather than play something she didn’t want to. She would say people didn’t want to play with her but what she meant was they didn’t want to play her game. She would offer wander over to the buddy bus stop and wait for others to come and ask her to play. This wait was often futile and it made her even more depressed and lonely. I lost count of the times I went into to school to talk about how unhappy she was, parent’s evenings were never spent talking about how wonderfully she was doing academically but instead focussed on how unhappy she was. Nobody could really understand it – she appeared to be a nice, bright girl who didn’t appear to be being “bullied”. There didn’t seem anything “wrong”.

As time went on teachers turned the spotlight round on her – that perhaps there was something in her behaviour that meant people were treating her badly. She was accused of being too bossy, too assertive, not consultative enough.  Sometimes I was told she just didn’t try to make friends. Teachers suggested techniques for building resilience, offered for her to have a session with a TA every Friday to talk, put her in a nurture group for children who struggled but most of these children were struggling academically and with behavioural problems and Grace didn’t fit in there either. Their intentions were sound, but what they never seemed to accept was that she was being excluded and isolated. They denied that she was experiencing any bullying and they didn’t seem to accept that other children did not want to sit next to her on the bus, did not want to be her partner in class, groaned when she was on their team in PE and often ignored her on school trips. They never tried to tackle the subtle bullying that went on in the school. She was made to feel that she was the one with the problem.  That she needed to learn better social skills. That she was imagining it.

My feeling about her time at primary school was that apart from a few teachers, nobody really understood her challenges. When awards for resilience and resourcefulness were being handed out in year 6, she didn’t receive one, despite arguably being one of the most resilient children in her class. Because she has no problems academically and achieved top marks in her KS2 SATS I don’t think Grace really got the support she needed. The school tried to help and always listened to my concerns, there were some lovely teachers who tried their best but ultimately things never really got better for her.

Grace chose a secondary school where nobody from her school was going to, in another town, a bus ride away. She wanted a fresh start and so far year 7 is going really well. She has won a public speaking competition and has been invited to be an anti-bullying ambassador. She has friends. She said today “I didn’t realise how unhappy I was at primary school until now. Because now I am happy”.

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Awareness Week Day 3: Tuesday 10th

New Information Sheet: A child friendly definition of dyspraxia/DCD

Oliver 7 yrs:  ‘I'm just the same as everyone else I just work harder at things everyone else can do quicker making me unique ‘

We are proud to be launching a brand new information sheet aimed at parents, teachers, SENCO's and professionals working with children this Awareness Week on 'A child friendly definition of Dyspraxia/DCD'. 

As well as a child friendly definition, we asked our followers on social media on how their children describe their Dyspraxia/DCD and we have added them to this often humorous but realistic definitions on how they see their Dyspraxia.

Please download our Information sheet and share it with your child's school, teachers, SENCO and whoever else you feel appropriate as we aim to increase the awareness of Dyspraxia/DCD at primary schools as our findings show that many staff are still unsure about Dyspraxia/DCD.

Throughout Dyspraxia Awareness Week we are publishing daily a number of case studies from parents with children with Dyspraxia highlighting the good, the bad, the struggles and the successes of their children during Primary Education and highlight that many are slipping under the radar.

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Sophie, age 8

I'd like to tell you a wee bit about my very special daughter. Sophie is 8 years old and is the most loving girl you could possibly meet. She is beautiful and kind and always smiling despite her troubles.

Sophie was diagnosed with DCD last month after years of appointments and struggles. Sophie was late to walk, talk and do most things her peers found easy. She has always struggled with fine and gross motor skills and also has hypermobility. School is difficult, reading and writing extremely challenging, sports and building friendships too. Daily challenges (little things to most) such as tying shoelaces, buttons and poppers on clothes don't hold her back.

Yes, it takes her a long time and can be very frustrating but she will get there! Despite all of this, Sophie continues to smile and try her best. We are very proud parents and will continue to encourage her to grow and develop at her own pace.

Patron Stephanie Guidera's undiagnosed dyspraxia made rehearsal discipline a challenge, while musicianship classes were “a minefield. Dyspraxia affects people in different ways. In my case my working memory operates at around 30% – it’s like there’s no Velcro!” With no knowledge of her condition, Stephanie felt uncomfortably self-aware. “I just put it down to myself – maybe I’m stupid; maybe I can't learn.”

Stephanie spoke to the National Youth Choirs Great Britain (NYCGB), which this Interview was published on their website on 8th September 2017.

It has kindly been allowed to be reproduced here for Dyspraxia Awareness Week which you can read in full by clicking here.

Stephanie is singing at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool on Wednesday, 15th November in Mozart Requiem (Symphony No 41 ‘Jupiter’).

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The Home Office Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network

The Home Office Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network is a staff group supported by the Home Office management. It is rapidly growing as more staff members become aware of it and the support it offers.

On Tuesday 10th October the network held a whole day event with the morning for members who have the conditions and in the afternoon to raise awareness for line managers. Richard Todd - Dyspraxia Foundation Trustee who specializes in employment matters presented at both sessions.

Over 100 people attended including adult members of the Dyspraxia Foundation. The issues faced by employees, how simple adjustments could help and what managers could do to get the best from their staff were discussed.

We were able to raise awareness at very senior levels, Adrian Dotteridge - Director of Strategy and Change for UK Visa & Immigration attended all day. Mark Thompson - Director General of UKVI and the Passport Office, was present for the morning and Philip Rutnam Permanent Secretary of the Home Office and Disability Champion for the Civil Service closed the meeting.

Awareness Week Day 2: Monday 9th

Press Release:
Children with dyspraxia are falling ‘under the radar’ and missing out on vital support in schools.

The nationwide poll of teachers highlighted that dyspraxia is ‘under the radar’ when it comes to awareness, training and support. 65% said that awareness of dyspraxia in their schools was poor or very poor with 71% saying that lack of awareness and understanding affected children’s opportunities and achievement.

To read more about our survey, download our press release or to contact us for further information please visit our press-release page.

Throughout Dyspraxia Awareness Week we are publishing daily a number of case studies from parents with children with Dyspraxia highlighting the good, the bad, the struggles and the successes of their children during Primary Education and highlight that many are slipping under the radar.

Charlie, aged 8 yrs

His Reception teacher thought he was dyslexic but another Mum suggested dyspraxia to me which I had never heard of.
He's Year 4 now with a diagnosis and every teacher he's had since apart from his teacher last year has been hopeless. Unfortunately because he had a good teacher last year, OT's have discharged him. His current teacher told him the other day that he was on his final warning from having his pen licence taken away if his handwriting didn't improve.  

He's endured bullying from other children, he constantly struggles, he's told me he hates his life and he doesn't feel safe at school.😢😡

He's also got himself lost a few times at school. I've been into school a number of times but it falls on deaf ears. There is no plan in place for him and I've not even been made aware who SENCO is.

I'm so worried about the transition to secondary school, he finds it difficult to make friends and I don't know how he will cope. He's a sweet loving boy who wouldn't hurt anyone and wants to learn but finds it difficult to concentrate. It makes me so sad 😢 

Lottie, aged 8

My daughter Lottie is 8, and was diagnosed with dyspraxia aged 5. Her main issues are with her fine motor skills, organisation and concentration. We have been lucky as her school, in Edinburgh, have a good level of awareness of SpLD issues and are proactive in accommodating for these.  

She receives intervention for reading, writing and maths and attends a therapy inclusion group focusing on motor and social skills. She also receives help such as a slope board for writing and use of an iPad. She feels included and there is good communication between school and home. She likes giving presentations and has talked about her experience of dyspraxia and Dyslexia to her peers. School embraced this and have been very supportive in encouraging her strengths. 

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Awareness Week Day 1 : Sunday 8th

It's been a feature packed first day for Awareness Week 2017!

Youth Member Natalie Williams and her dad, kicked off Awareness Week with an Interview on BBC Three Counties Radio! You can catch the interview on their website here - at around 10 minutes 45 seconds into the show!

Well done Natalie!

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At the same time, another youth member, and Matthew Hunt Award Winner from 2017, Jake Borrett appeared on Radio Verulam to also talk all things Dyspraxia!

You can catch the show on the website, well done to Jake to kick start off awareness week 2017!

A great event showcasing #dyspraxia talent in London today organised by Jess of Dyspraxic Me marked the launch of Dyspraxia Awareness Week. Comedy, music, dance and movement, writing and acting were all covered with a sneak preview of a new youth film too. See the website for the final copy by the end of this week. Well done and thank you to all who contributed; it was so nice to meet those who attended.

Awareness Week Webinar! - 'Dyspraxia, Feeling Bad and Getting Mad'

After our successful first webinar we are proud to be hosting our second webinar during Dyspraxia Awareness Week!

Our awareness week focus for 2017 is primary aged children, and with this in mind our second webinar, titled 'Dyspraxia, Feeling Bad and Getting Mad' (the importance of healthy self-esteem in the management of behaviour issues) will again be hosted by Gill Dixon.

Taking place on Wednesday 11th October at 8.00pm, our second webinar will be approximately 45mins in length and will cost just £10! Our webinars are a way to listen, learn and chat with real experts in the field of dyspraxia/DCD.

For further information, and to secure your place on our Webinar please visit https://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/webinars/ We look forward to welcoming you to our webinar!

Get Involved!

Friday 13th October is Fundraising Friday! We want everyone to get involved and raise money and awareness for Dyspraxia!
Host a coffee morning and talk about Dyspraxia! Get a group together and have a long beach walk for Dyspraxia! Host a mufti-day at your school! The possibilities are endless!

Apply for your Fundraising Pack Today!
We have produced an exciting fundraising pack for everyone to get involved. The pack includes: Dyspraxia Foundation balloons, stickers and posters. Information sheets, and introduction to dyspraxia and more! To get your pack call us on 01462 455016 or e-mail info@dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk

Click here to download the Fundraising Friday Poster to display at your events! 

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An Introduction to Dyspraxia/DCD - SOLD OUT!

Due to outstanding demand we increased our capacity for this event, which has now completely sold out! Thank you for your overwhelming support, keep an eye on our website and #Dyspraxia17 for the latest from this event!

‘An Introduction to Dyspraxia/DCD’; a FREE event from 7 – 8.30pm, on 10th October, Solihull, West Midlands hosted by the Dyspraxia Foundation to mark Dyspraxia Awareness Week 8—14th October 2017 #dyspraxia17

An event aimed at parents, health and education professionals, employers and anyone wanting to find out more about the condition; diagnosis, causes and how it presents in children.