Does your toddler find it difficult to walk up and down the stairs steadily? Does your dear little one find it difficult to perform normal activities for his age, such as putting on clothes and writing alphabets? If you nodded along worriedly, your toddler might be suffering from dyspraxia. Read our post to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of dyspraxia in toddlers.
What Is Dyspraxia In Toddlers?
Dyspraxia is Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) in toddlers. Toddlers normally develop the ability to perform simple activities, such as sitting up, walking, and talking, as they grow. However, toddlers suffering from DCD lack coordination between their mind and body to carry out their intended activity. For instance, even if the toddler thinks of getting up and walking, the brain fails to send appropriate instructions to his body to perform the necessary action.
Even though kids with DCD possess normal intelligence, they may appear clumsy. So DCD is also popular as ‘clumsy child syndrome’. DCD can be embarrassing and frustrating, leading to isolation and social stigma (1).
Causes Of Dyspraxia In Toddlers:
The cause of dyspraxia is not yet clear. However, medical researchers believe DCD occurs due to developmental issues in the brain’s information processing system. The following factors increase the risk of the disorder in toddlers:
- A preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Gestational alcohol or drug abuse
- A family history of DCD
- A brain injury (2)
Dyspraxia may occur along with other disorders, such as attention-deficit-disorder or mental retardation (3).
Symptoms Of Dyspraxia In Toddlers:
Toddlers suffering from dyspraxia may start performing normal activities late and slow, including rolling over, crawling, sitting up, walking, and talking. Here are common dyspraxia symptoms in toddlers.
- Difficulty in walking
- Prone to falling and accidents
- Difficulty in toilet training
- Inability to dress up, hold objects, write, ride a bicycle, and use cutlery
- Difficulty in performing activities that require balance and motor coordination like climbing steps, kicking the ball, etc.
- Poor short-term memory and difficulty in organizing things and following instructions
- Difficulty in speaking, listening and imaginative play
- Poor development of social skills
- Oversensitivity to light, noise, touch, etc.
- Tendency to run into other children
- Prone to trip over their own feet
- Difficulty in learning associated with autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia (4)
Diagnosing Dyspraxia In Toddlers:
If you suspect your toddler is suffering from dyspraxia, you should seek an appointment with a pediatrician immediately. He may use the following methods to diagnose the disorder:
- He may ask the details of your toddler’s and family’s medical history.
- He may use the ‘Motor ABC’ method to assess your toddler’s gross and fine motor skills. He may compare the results with the normal score for his age-group.
- He may require a standard assessment of your toddler’s mental ability from a psychologist to rule out any other condition (5).
Treating Dyspraxia In Toddlers:
There is no cure for dyspraxia. However, a few things can improve the quality of life for your toddler. Based on the results of his diagnosis the doctor may recommend the following treatment plans for your toddler.
1. Physical Education:
Physical education can help toddlers develop good balance, coordination, and effective communication between their brain and body. Teaching sports, such as bicycling and swimming, to your toddler can help improve his motor skills. Playing team sports can help him develop social skills. Also, daily exercises can minimize his risk of obesity (6).
2. Task-Orientated Approach:
It helps your toddler perform regular activities easily. Occupational therapists can teach many techniques to your child to perform simple as well as difficult tasks, monitor his improvement and offer him guidance to lead an independent life.
3. Process-Orientated Approach:
It involves regular activities that aim to improve the toddler’s motor skills. You can observe a great improvement in your toddler as he will soon perform several tasks that he was finding difficult to perform earlier (7).
Your toddler may also require speech therapy and one-to-one coaching.
Remember, a supportive environment at home and school can help your toddler overcome the challenges that accompany dyspraxia and lead a normal life.
Did your toddler suffer from dyspraxia? What treatment did the doctor advice? Share your experience with other moms here.