We found a good Educational Psychologist. She had a waiting list so we waited. In the time we waited I reflected on why we were doing this, why were we seeking a label for our son.
In one of my very first posts, when I described Moglet #2, I said he was 'so much more than a label ' and that was and remains true.
It was also true that, as school had now recognised the 'signs and symptoms' of possible dyspraxia, they were making some adjustments. You might ask did we really need a diagnosis? Did we need a label that would stick with him for ever and potentially limit him?
The answer was yes.
Firstly as an 'insider', someone who was in the educational know, I realised this was a hoop we needed to jump through. As soon as he started to encounter exams Moglet number 2 was going to need that label. It was his passport to extra time, use of a computer, maybe even a scribe.
Ignoring dyspraxia is not fighting it. Moglet number two has tried that on numerous occasions since his diagnosis, particularly since he started secondary school and has got caught up in the pre-teen desire to be normal! You have to welcome dyspraxia with open arms and then use all the tricks in the book to start to control it, to stop it controlling you. Facing something head on puts you in the driving seat, not the other way round. That was why we needed the label.
We also needed, quite frankly to silence the doubters. His teacher at school was also convinced there was a problem but she was mentioning ADHD and ASD. I was absolutely convinced by this point that we were dealing with Dyspraxia.
The graphic below shows that these conditions are co morbid, a fancy and I have always thought very depressing term, that's means 'can be related'. It also shows that although these conditions often occur together, they can manifest themselves as stand alone conditions. We needed the specific label for our Moglet to make sure he was getting targeted support.
Although, on the whole, school were being pretty good, we were still encountering people who just thought Moglet Number 2 needed to try harder in certain areas.
One such area was organisation. The move to Prep school meant much more sport. Which was great. It also meant much more kit! Which was,quite frankly, a pigging nightmare!
Now Moglet # 2 had three (yes three!) pairs of sports shoes to lose on a daily basis. His PE bag was no long a drawstring pump bag with one or three cheapish items from ASDA, that I could replace on the way home from work. It was now a a bag only slightly smaller than him, filled with a whole variety of colour co-ordinated 'ordered from a special website' sports gear. It looked great, was expensive and got lost daily!
This was one of the areas which exasperated his teachers and if I am honest drove me to the edge. I opened that sports bag with dread, making daily mental lists of what was missing and what I needed to chase.
A label wasn't going to stop this, but it might help people take it seriously, rather than see it as an irritation.
The day after I posted the video clip about proprioception, the clip that gave me our 'light bulb moment', I had a private message from a teacher. She had found the clip useful, but was now sure she could she see dyspraxia in half her students!! So did they all need a label? No, probably not! Remember everyone's Proprioception System needs a little help sometimes. It gets a knock if we are ill or injured, sometimes children's proprioception systems are just immature and need developing.
Also remember problems related to proprioception are only one aspect of dyspraxia . Take a look at the graphic below.
This graphic isn't the definitive guide, but it gives a pretty good first overview of signs and symptoms.
FACT - There are lots of people with undiagnosed Dyspraxia, or DCD to give it it's most recent term.
FACT- You will meet children (and adults!) who display symptoms of dyspraxia without actually being dyspraxic.
FACT - If you are a teacher you can't diagnose Dyspraxia, only a health professional can, usually a paediatrian. BUT, you are there to support, advise and refer. So...
... if you see a child in whom you have recognised a sign or symptom of dyspraxia, treat it! Don't wait for a diagnosis, put strategies in place to help. The 'wait and see approach' is ok to a point, but make sure it is an ' active wait and see approach'. Make notes about what you have seen and how strategies have helped. Consider keeping a 'Bump book' where you record little accidents. You might see patterns. Playground logbooks tell you all sorts of things; who's playing with who, who's not playing with anyone, who's always falling over!
Think about introducing a Wake Up, Shake Up session to start your day. Everyone needs to get their receptors fired up, but it might be a literal life saver for any child with dyspraxic tendencies. See a child falling over the Cliff of Concentration or getting wriggly in their seat? Give them a movement break, it might do wonders! In the same vein, please can I ask you to think twice about removing a play time as a consequence of bad behaviour? Sometimes depriving a child of their only opportunity to move is so counterproductive that you set up a negative chain reaction for the whole day!
Think about having a fine motor table, even in a Key Stage 2 classroom, somewhere anyone can go for a bit of fiddle time, to re engage the brain and fire up the neurons!
We live in a technological age. This blog is brought to you courtesy of it! If you can, if budgets allow, embrace it. For a child with writing issues it might be the difference between getting all those marvellous ideas out there, rather than choking on them in frustration. Hassle your ICT Co-Ordinator!
I am a teacher. I know what the demands of the job are. But we have to teach and support the child as a whole, hard as it is we are responsible for collecting all the pieces of the jigsaw and looking for gaps.
Talk to your SENCo if you have concerns. It doesn't have to be a full on referral, just a quick word in the staff room might help. SENCo' s are a valuable resource, use them! But remember they are there to CO-ORDINATE, Special Educational Needs are EVERYONE'S responsibility.
Thank you all for listening. To my fellow teachers, if I have taught you to suck eggs in the most spectacular fashion then I apologise. Excuse a crazy Moglet Mummy!
Soap box away and on with Sunday. X