Childrens mental health week

Children with Dyspraxia can look cumbersome when carrying out physical activity.

Dyspraxia never heard of it?

You’re not alone. To be honest the only reason I have heard of it is because our giraffes neck has it.

It’s a funny old thing – you have to look at it with humour –or the frustration, the stress and the restrictions can get you down.

Dyspraxia isn’t just about poor co-ordination, difficulty in writing and challenges with gross and fine motor skills. There is so much more to it than that, such as inability to keep still, easily distracted and poor concentration skills not to mention the seemingly impossible feat of sitting at the dinner table without the chair, somehow mid-course being transported vertically away from the table magnetised towards the dining room wall with said child still munching away happily oblivious to the fact.

Childrens Mental Health Week Dyspraxia

Some but not all of the tell-tale signs of dyspraxia

Dyspraxia brings challenges new and old every day. It is important as parents and within the education system that our girl is supported emotionally as well as physically.

Physically she has support within the education system with intervention exercises twice a week concentrating on core strength. This she finds a real challenge as she is so wobbly. We have recently gone to a OT support group that has 6 other children with mobility problems like our girl and they have stations with exercises ranging from balance boards to shoe lace tying. One exercise is the making of a cheese spread sandwich. She mastered this in the first week and only takes 2 minutes of her allocated 5 minute time slot. We work with her at home too and although sometimes it is easier to do up her buttons and help with her socks we are plugging away.

But now she is 7 – Of that age where she is noticing that she is ‘different’. We have had occasions when she doesn’t want to go to after-school clubs as she is the last one to get her pumps on for the activities and she really struggles to get her clothes over her head.

We therefore have to work on her emotional well-being and mental health. Helping her to build resilience to the adversities she has and will face in life. Luckily she is naturally quite resilient and we encourage her to always try her best and keep going no matter how long a task takes. Sometimes she gets stuck in, others she gets a bit fed up and will quit, sometimes it is totally exhausting for her and she needs a rest before starting again.

Swimming is a problem for our girl with dyspraxia.

We tried a couple of years ago it’s the whole coordination, concentration and putting the head backwards that is the issue for our girl. She doesn’t like to put her head backwards it feels funny and she gets distressed about it.  Last time we attempted swimming lessons. She was distraught and only lasted two lessons. Unfortunately the teacher wasn’t accommodating to our girls individual needs. In fairness we were only learning of the condition and thought she was just a bit behind and the lessons would do her good character building. We were so very wrong if we had carried on with the lessons it could have really damaged her confidence levels and self-esteem.

Today she started a three day swimming course aimed at children who cannot swim. I spoke to the  swim instructor before they made that first all important splash into the pool. She delighted me when she said she had already read on the registration form about our girls dyspraxia and she had worked with kids with it before. We discussed about her coordination and how she didn’t like putting her head back. I walked away reassured that our girl was in safe hands.

She was indeed in safe hands. The instructor kept a close eye on her and made sure she was at the side of the pool wall for stability. When it was time for putting head back into the water our girl had a tube behind her neck to give her confidence and security. These subtle signs of extra support and encouragement made a huge difference to our girls physical well-being. The fact that they were subtle signs without pointing out her weaknesses and challenges was a huge boost for her emotional well-being and mental health.

An hour in the pool totally engaged and trying her best. She struggled at times but showed resilience and kept going.  This hour has increased her confidence, built her resilience and helped towards her dream of becoming a mermaid.

Working with our girl building her confidence one splash at a time will help her mental health every step of the way. Giving her encouragement now and setting goals – Our goal for the end of the third lesson is that if she goes along to the lessons and completes each lesson, tries her best and doesn’t give up, we will go swimming as a family at the weekend and she can show off her new found  mermaid skills. She is delighted with this goal and already looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson.

When your child has dyspraxia it is a steep learning curve learning about their limitations and challenges, finding new ways to introduce things we take for granted such as holding a knife and fork, pulling up a zip and not forgetting jumping into the swimming pool.

Mental Health Week Dealing with Dyspraxia

Here are my tips for helping build confidence, self-esteem and resilience for children with dyspraxia. More information is available from the Dyspraxia Foundation

 

If you want to find out more about the services i offer or simply want some support regarding dyspraxia in your family simply get in contact.

 

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