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8th October-14th October is dyspraxia awareness week. Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder described as a delay in motor skills development. As well as this, there are many other difficulties that a child with dyspraxia may experience. Farmer, Echenne and Bentourkia (2016) identified three core sub-groups of difficulties related to dyspraxia, including:

  • Clumsiness and other co-ordination difficulties.
  • Self-esteem and peer relation difficulties
  • Language difficulties and orofacial dyspraxia

It appears that a child with dyspraxia may have difficulties due to a range of reasons, so it is important for teachers and other staff involved with the child to have an awareness of these difficulties. Parvin & Szmalec (2016) argue that awareness is increasing in the United Kingdom. Parents, teachers and doctors are now all much more aware of dyspraxia; with some of the very complex symptoms now being identified in early years children.
The areas that a child with dyspraxia may struggle with, include:

  • Handwriting
  • Tying Shoe-Laces
  • Learning to ride a bike
  • Reading
  • Organisation
  • Working Memory
  • Speech and Language
  • Peer Relationships
  • Stress and anxiety

Co-morbidity:
Dyspraxia is often diagnosed alongside other co-morbid conditions, most frequently dyslexia and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Often, it is difficult for psychologists to investigate dyspraxia experimentally as it often presents with ASD. In fact, the rate of co-morbidity is high enough that Pauc (2005) suggested that dyspraxia, dyslexia, ASD and ADHD all be downgraded from disorders, to symptoms of a single disorder. Despite this, in research many differences between dyspraxia and autistic spectrum disorder, including working memory and gestural performance (Cacola, Miller & Williamson, 2017) which suggests they need to be separate conditions. This is an ongoing debate in psychology: but it is important to remember that neurodiversity can work along a spectrum: with many children presenting with symptoms from many different disorders.
Written by Lauren Milton-McNally
References
Cacola, P., Miller, H., & Williamson, P. (2017).  Behavioral comparisons in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Coordination Disorder: A systematic literature review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 38, 6-18. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2017.03.004
Farmer, M., Echennne, B., & Bentourkia, M. (2016). Study of clinical characteristics in young subjects with Developmental coordination disorder. Brain and Development. 38, (6), 538-547.  doi:10.1016/j.braindev.2015.12.010
Parvin, C. Szmalec, J., & Podgórska-Jachnik, D. (2016). Dyspraxia/DCD – Problem Review on the Basis of British Experience., Human and Social Sciences at the Common Conference, 4,143 – 146, DOI: 10.18638/hassacc.2016.4.1.202
 
Pauc, R. (2005). Comorbidity of dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette’s syndrome in children: A prospective epidemiological study. Clinical Chiropractic, 8(4), 189-198. doi:10.1016/j.clch.2005.09.007

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8th October-14th October is dyspraxia awareness week. Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder described as a delay in motor skills development. As well as this, there are many other difficulties that a child with dyspraxia may experience. Farmer, Echenne and Bentourkia (2016) identified three core sub-groups of difficulties related to dyspraxia, including:

  • Clumsiness and other co-ordination difficulties.
  • Self-esteem and peer relation difficulties
  • Language difficulties and orofacial dyspraxia

It appears that a child with dyspraxia may have difficulties due to a range of reasons, so it is important for teachers and other staff involved with the child to have an awareness of these difficulties. Parvin & Szmalec (2016) argue that awareness is increasing in the United Kingdom. Parents, teachers and doctors are now all much more aware of dyspraxia; with some of the very complex symptoms now being identified in early years children.
The areas that a child with dyspraxia may struggle with, include:

  • Handwriting
  • Tying Shoe-Laces
  • Learning to ride a bike
  • Reading
  • Organisation
  • Working Memory
  • Speech and Language
  • Peer Relationships
  • Stress and anxiety

Co-morbidity:
Dyspraxia is often diagnosed alongside other co-morbid conditions, most frequently dyslexia and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Often, it is difficult for psychologists to investigate dyspraxia experimentally as it often presents with ASD. In fact, the rate of co-morbidity is high enough that Pauc (2005) suggested that dyspraxia, dyslexia, ASD and ADHD all be downgraded from disorders, to symptoms of a single disorder. Despite this, in research many differences between dyspraxia and autistic spectrum disorder, including working memory and gestural performance (Cacola, Miller & Williamson, 2017) which suggests they need to be separate conditions. This is an ongoing debate in psychology: but it is important to remember that neurodiversity can work along a spectrum: with many children presenting with symptoms from many different disorders.
Written by Lauren Milton-McNally
References
Cacola, P., Miller, H., & Williamson, P. (2017).  Behavioral comparisons in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Coordination Disorder: A systematic literature review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 38, 6-18. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2017.03.004
Farmer, M., Echennne, B., & Bentourkia, M. (2016). Study of clinical characteristics in young subjects with Developmental coordination disorder. Brain and Development. 38, (6), 538-547.  doi:10.1016/j.braindev.2015.12.010
Parvin, C. Szmalec, J., & Podgórska-Jachnik, D. (2016). Dyspraxia/DCD – Problem Review on the Basis of British Experience., Human and Social Sciences at the Common Conference, 4,143 – 146, DOI: 10.18638/hassacc.2016.4.1.202
 
Pauc, R. (2005). Comorbidity of dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette’s syndrome in children: A prospective epidemiological study. Clinical Chiropractic, 8(4), 189-198. doi:10.1016/j.clch.2005.09.007

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Social Stories and Autistic Spectrum Disorder

It is often very frustrating when there are barriers in communication, particularly for those who have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Due to these barriers, often those with ASD struggle to understand social rules or develop appropriate social skills. Social Stories have been developed to try and support those with High-Functioning ASD in understanding these rules. Since they were first developed by Carol Gray (1991), social stories have long been considered an evidence based method to help communicate social rules to those who have ASD, often showing good outcomes in improving social skills for individuals with ASD (Singleton, 2016).

Social stories aim to replace the social skills that those with ASD do not have. These are closely linked to the Theory of Mind, which is our ability to understand and guess the thoughts of others. Baron-Cohen suggested that individuals with ASD struggled to understand the perspectives of others, due to mindblindness or a lack of Theory of Mind. Social stories aim to help individuals with ASD to understand this perspective of others, and help them in gaining these social skills.

Where can social stories be used?

Social stories have been found to be effective in many contexts! They have been successfully used in mainstream schools (Marshall, et al., 2016) and by mothers of children with ASD (Acar, Tekin-Iftar &  Yikmis, 2017). They can be written by anyone if you follow the guidelines.

Social stories have been used for many different situations. They can be written and personalised for almost anything, some children may have several different ones depending on their needs. Some examples are:

  • Waiting in Line
  • Washing and cleaning themselves
  • Shouting in class
  • Getting anxious with a new teacher
  • Doing work
  • Staying away from roads
  • Being nice to friends

How to write a social story:

Social stories are usually very short, and focused on one specific aim. They should usually be written in first person or using the child’s name. This is to help the child identify with what they are reading. They should also be written in present tense.

To learn more about the detailed steps required for writing Social Stories, download our FREE ebook ‘How to write Social Stories’ here.

Example

  • I live by a very busy road.
  • I must walk past the road every day, and sometimes I see something that upsets or scares me.
  • When I get upset or scared, I run away and go into the road.
  • It is okay that I get scared, but I cannot run into the road.
  • If I run into the road I could get hurt by a car.
  • It scares my mom when I run away.
  • I will try not to run away when I get scared.
  • Instead I will tell my mom I am scared and we will walk away.

References:

Acar, C., Tekin-Iftar, E., & Yikmis, A. (2017). Effects of Mother-Delivered Social Stories and Video Modeling in Teaching Social Skills to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Journal of Special Education, 50(4), 215-226.

Marshall, D., Wright, B., Allgar, V., Adamson, J., Williams, C., Ainsworth, H., & Ali, S. (2016). Social Stories in mainstream schools for children with autism spectrum disorder: a feasibility randomised controlled trial. BMJ open, 6(8), e011748.

Singleton, A. (2016). The Effectiveness of Social Stories in Increasing Social Skills in those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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