Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder

Newsletter September 2014

Back to School

At the start of a new school year it is an ideal opportunity to take a fresh look at pupils who are struggling at school and not reaching their full potential. Frequently I see children who have been labelled as having ‘behavioural’ difficulties, when in fact they turn out to have motor coordination difficulties or sensory processing problems. 25 years ago when I started working with children with these difficulties, there was very little awareness of these problems within schools. Unfortunately 25 years on there are still schools where staff are not aware of these difficulties. Just last week I heard of a boy who was labelled ‘lazy’ and made to stay in at break to complete handwriting work.

Did you know?

Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)

Developmental Coordination Disorder is a motor impairment that affects a child’s ability to perform the skilled movements necessaryfor daily living, including the performance of academic and self-care tasks.

Some of the behaviours that may be observed at school:

  • Difficulty with handwriting and drawing
  • Difficulty using tools such as scissors, rulers
  • Problems in PE eg poor balance, unable to catch a ball
  • Difficulty getting changed eg unable to do buttons, zips, shoelaces
  • Disorganised
  • Concentration and attention problems
  • Difficulty learning new motor skills
  • May appear immature for their age

Useful Resources

Movement Matters UK is the UK umbrella organisation representing the major national groups concerned with children and adults with coordination difficulties. The website contains useful information.

Why every office needs a tennis ball: a new approach to assessing the clumsy child – an informative article on developmental coordination disorder.


Dyspraxia by Dr Amanda Kirby.

A very informative book on Dyspraxia suitable for teachers and parents alike. The book covers the age span from preschool to adulthood and has very useful strategies for home and school.


Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder interferes with the way children process the sensations coming from their body and the world around them. It interferes with learning, playing, and communicating with others. Most of us are born with the ability to constantly manage sensory messages and organise them into the right, organised response or behaviour. For children with Sensory Processing Disorder the sensory signals don’t get organised into appropriate responses and the child’s daily activities and social interactions are disrupted.

Some of the behaviours that may be observed at school:

  • Avoids touch or being touched by objects and people
  • Has difficulty standing in line or close to other people
  • Avoidance of certain textures
  • Touches people and objects to the point of irritating others
  • Seeks out all kinds of movement and this interferes with daily routines (eg can’t sit still, fidgets)
  • Takes excessive risks during play
  • Fear of heights and movement
  • Distress with certain sounds
  • Sensitivity to light

Useful Resources

outThe Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz
Informative and clearly written book which is ideal for parents and teachers. This book is probably one of the the best books to buy on sensory processing disorder if you are new to this area.



Where can I get more information?


Setting Up Motor Programmes in Primary Schools

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Many children in education have not developed the basic motor skills that lay the
foundation for academic learning to take place. Research has shown that by
developing children’s foundational motor skills, through motor programmes in
schools, progress is seen in academic and learning skills such as handwriting,
reading, hand-eye coordination, concentration and attention.

The aim of this course is enable school staff to identify children with motor
learning difficulties and equip them to set up appropriate individual or group
motor programmes in school.The course also gives staff the necessary tools to
screen children’s motor skills so enabling potential problems to be detected
early in the child’s school life.

Introduction to Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Course 1)

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Some people don’t behave as we expect them to – not because they won’t, but because they can’t. Inefficient processing of sensory messages that come from their body and environment often cause this unexpected behaviour. These people may withdraw from physical contact, refuse to participate in typical classroom and playground activities, or respond in an unusual way to ordinary sensations such as touch, movement, sights and sounds.

The aim of this one day course is to provide teachers and health professionals with an understanding of sensory processing disorder and the everyday difficulties the children experience at school and at home. Practical support strategies will be explored from both an educational and therapy perspective.

Please read the Disclaimer and be aware that the information in this newsletter is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.