Tag Archives: Dyspraxia

Teaching pupils with Dyspraxia

  • Try to ensure that the child is sitting in an upright position with both feet flat on the  floor.
  • If possible try to give him/her a sloping surface to write on.
  • The child should be seated away from doors and windows where there might be distractions.  He/she should be close enough to hear and see instructions given by the teacher.
  • Use sheets with spaces for answers to reduce the amount of writing required.
  • Use lined paper and if possible, attach it to the desk so that the child doesn’t have to hold it in place while writing.
  • Tasks should be broken down into small components
  • Repeat verbal instructions several times and keep them simple.
  • Use different coloured pens for each line when writing on board.

The role of the Physiotherapist (NI)

The physiotherapist is concerned with the gross motor skills and mobility of a child.  In cases where there has been an obvious physical difficulty the child will have been receiving support well before starting school.

The physiotherapist is often involved with children who have dyspraxia, are blind or have cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, congenital syndromes, such as Downs Syndromespina bifida,  and progressive muscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy.  He/she may also be involved post-operatively where a child has a temporary physical difficulty, e.g. after an accident.

Although physiotherapists are happy to give advice to teachers, referrals must be done through the child’s medical practitioner and it is advisable to discuss concerns with parents first.

As part of the multidisciplinary team the physiotherapist is also asked to write a report as part of the statutory assessment which then will be used to draw up the child’s Statement of Special Educational Needs if the child has any physical problems which impact on his/her access to the curriculum.

In school the physiotherapist will advise the teacher and classroom assistant on the kinds of activities which will be helpful, e.g. exercise routines and games which could be done during P.E. lessons.


  • Often known as ‘clumsy child syndrome’
  • May be mild to severe
  • Can affect speech
  • Can cause child to have low self-esteem and later mental problems.

This condition is a lack of development in planning of physical movement and organization.  The affected motor problems result in difficulties in academic learning and also in daily life skills.  This may be seen in delayed crawling, walking etc.  They often have difficulty coping with multi-sensory stimuli and can feel pain from too much sound or visual stimuli.  Children with dyspraxia often appear to be above average verbally and this can lead teachers to believe they are more competent than they actually are.

What to look for:

In school the child will usually have difficulties in handwriting, in physical education, in tying shoelaces etc.  He/she may knock over or drop things easily.  Getting all the items he/she needs out of his schoolbag can require a great deal of effort.  The child can be of high/satisfactory ability in verbal skills but writing/gross motor skills can be very poor.  This child can appear to be lacking in concentration and motivation and ‘lazy’.

Case Studies

Teaching Strategies

People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher; Occupational Therapist


Further Information

Article on dyspraxia and DCD( source: Afasic Scotland Dyspraxia Foundation in Scotland)
Introduction to Dyspraxia (source: Nuffield Portfolio Programme Report No. 2 CHILDHOOD DYSPRAXIA: SOME ISSUES FOR THE NHS AMANDA BOWENS IAIN SMITH November 1999)
Developmental Dyspraxia

Case Study: Aspergers’ Syndrome

Image of Children watching TV
Image of Children watching TV

Jack is 9.  He has recently been diagnosed as having Aspergers’ Syndrome.  In class he was always moving about and constantly trying to attract the attention of the teacher or other children.  He always seemed to be looking for something or adjusting an item of clothing or something under his desk or in his schoolbag.

Jack’s class almost always watched a T.V. program on the same day each week.  Jack enjoyed this and managed to concentrate for the 12 minutes of the video.  However, one day his teacher was off sick and there was a substitute teacher.  For some reason, she did not show the programme.  This really upset Jack who spent nearly an hour muttering about a T.V. and a Video.  he wouldn’t do any work and was very agitated and unsettled.

Jack liked to be part of a group and he liked to be friendly but he had not learned how to behave with different people and greeted everybody with a kiss and a hug even if he had never met them before.  He also seemed to like physical contact.  This was a problem as the boys used this as a reason to tease him about his sexuality and it was behaviour which many girls’ parents did not approve of.