Dyspraxia is a condition that causes impairment and/or slow maturation of motor skills. Children with dyspraxia have problems with language, thought and perception, as well as fine and gross motor skills. They may appear clumsy and often have difficulty learning to write. Frequently, children with dyspraxia avoid games because they have difficulty performing even simple motor tasks. There is no medical treatment and no known cause of dyspraxia. According to the Dyspraxia Foundation, doctors suggest that physical activity and playing games is the best way to help children with dyspraxia practice and learn to control their movements.
Coordination and Balance Games
An effective way to help the child with dyspraxia develop eye-hand coordination is to toss and catch a ball. Toss the ball to the child and then have the child toss the ball back. Use a large ball that is easier to catch. Add a balance board once the child has conquered the motor skill of catching. Have the child stand on the balance board and pass the ball back and forth between her hands while trying to stay balanced. Blow bubbles to the child and have her try to pop them by clapping her hands on the bubble while standing on a balance board. Try tossing a ball back and forth while you and the child stand on one foot.
Play a variation of Simon Says with a child who has dyspraxia. Adults should perform the movement first, then have the child perform the same movement, rather than merely giving instructions about what to do. For example, the adult may say, "Simon says, 'stand on your left foot'." The adult might demonstrate the movement by standing only on his left foot and then have the child execute the same movement. Adults can add a perceptual element by instructing the child with dyspraxia to perform movements that involve estimating distance. A parent or teacher may instruct a child, "Simon says, 'hold your hand 5 inches from your face,'" and be sure to always provide positive reinforcement, even when the children don't quite attain their goals.
Build an obstacle course in your home using boxes, chairs, tables, pillows and sofa cushions. Give the child specific instructions about how to go through each section of the course, like "crawl on your hands and knees through this part" or "hop through this part." Playing in an obstacle course helps children with dyspraxia develop a better sense about their body in relation to other objects. This helps reduce clumsiness. Add a balance practice section by putting a small pillow or bean bag on the child's head when she reaches a straight section of the obstacle course.
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