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EDUCATION REPORT - How a Movement Disorder Can Affect a Child's Life

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

We continue our series on learning disabilities with a look this week at a condition called dyspraxia.

An estimated six percent of children, mainly boys, show signs of dyspraxia
An estimated six percent of children, mainly boys, show signs of dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is a movement disorder. The World Health Organization says about six percent of children show some sign of it. The majority are male.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities says people with dyspraxia have trouble planning and completing fine motor tasks. The brain has trouble sending messages to the body to do what the person wants. Something as simple as waving goodbye may be difficult.

There are different levels of severity, and the effects can change over time. Babies may not try to crawl or roll over. They may have difficulty moving just their eyes instead of their heads.

As they get older, children may have trouble walking or holding a cup, riding a bicycle or throwing a ball. Trouble with letter formation or slow writing can interfere with school work.

People with dyspraxia may even have trouble speaking. So imagine the difficulty in learning a sport. Adults can have problems driving a car, cleaning the house, or washing and dressing themselves. Social skills are another issue. People with dyspraxia can have trouble making friends.

Like other learning disabilities, it cannot be cured. Children might be laughed at by other children. Teachers might think they are slow. The problem is not with intelligence but with motor skill development. Yet experts say the result of these reactions can be depression and other emotional problems.

This is one reason why early intervention is important. Children might feel a lot better about themselves if they understand why it takes longer for them to learn to do things.

Experts say it is important for parents to provide help and support to dyspraxic children from an early age. Helping them learn easy physical activities that develop coordination can build their trust in themselves. And simple activities can progress toward more complex tasks. Working with occupational, speech and physical therapists can lead to further improvements.

A person with dyspraxia might also have other learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, which affect reading and writing. You can learn about these disorders at www.unsv.com. We have transcripts and MP3s of our series on learning disabilities. Next week the subject is dyscalculia, a disorder involving mathematical abilities.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Bob Doughty.

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