In this article, we’ll explain the two essential things to look for in a dyspraxia tutor. They are:
- Study skills tutoring, not subject matter tutoring
- Neurodevelopmental expertise
The advice here is based on our decades of experience tutoring students with dyspraxia and other neurodiversities such as ASD (Autism/Aspergers), dyslexia and ADD/ADHD.
At the end of the article we’ll discuss the pros and cons of online tutoring vs. in-person tutoring.
Related article: How to Turn Your Child’s Dyspraxia into a Superpower
Short course via Zoom: How to Understand and Support a Child with Dyspraxia
1. Study Skills Tutoring
Almost all tutors out there are subject matter tutors.
What does that mean?
Well, it means that they tutor their students in specific subjects like math, biology, reading and writing, etc.
But dyspraxic kids don’t learn and think like most ‘normal’ kids.
So when traditional subject matter tutors try to teach them as if they were just like every other student, they may learn to get by, but it’s unlikely they’ll thrive.
In contrast, a study skills tutor does not teach a specific subject. Rather, they teach your child how they learn.
They teach your child:
- How to work with the limitations of their dyspraxia
- How to understand and appreciate the particular genius that dyspraxics have
- And perhaps most importantly, how to bridge the gap between
- Their unique thinking style and
- How their teachers and others around them expect them to explain their thinking in order to get good grades
Fundamentally, a study skills tutor teaches your dyspraxic child how to learn and how to communicate to get good grades.
Once your child has learned how to learn, they’ll get much more out of their regular classes and tutoring from any specific study skills tutors they work with in the future.
Before meeting Margo I was mostly getting B’s.
Now with her help and expertise almost all of my essays are getting an A+.
The most important thing that Margo has taught me is to believe in myself.
And that is a lesson that I can’t thank her enough for!
So, when considering a dyspraxia tutor for your child, we recommend starting with a specialized study skills tutor.
If a tutor’s profile starts by listing the subjects they teach, and then at the end has something like “Special Educational Needs: Aspergers, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Autism, Dyspraxia” that’s an indicator that they’re most likely a subject matter tutor, not a study skills tutor.
Look for the profiles that start with their focus on study skills tutoring and dyspraxia. It’s fine if they also mention subjects they have expertise in, but that should be near the end of their profile, not the beginning.
2. Neurodevelopmental Movement
At its core, dyspraxia is the result of issues with neurological development.
Thus, supporting your child’s neurological development is key – for their academic success and for their life in general.
This is where the field of neurodevelopmental movement comes in.
Quite simply, neurodevelopmental movement gives your child a way to fill in the neurodevelopmental steps that they somehow missed along the way.
Madeleine Portwood  has written extensively about this approach in her book Developmental Dyspraxia: Identification and Intervention: A Manual for Parents and Professionals.
HANDLE providers are also trained to develop neurodevelopmental movement plans for individual students.
So, we recommend looking for a dyspraxia tutor with expertise in creating a neurodevelopment movement plan for your child. The plan should be based on observing your child in real life situations and 100% customized to your child.
When I started working with Oxford Specialist Tutors, I had difficulty absorbing written text. The only things that would keep my attention were things like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
Now I’m able to focus not just on reading the words, but what these words are describing. I recently finished reading a book, and when I was done, I was able to tell people what happened in the book from beginning to end.
Also, I was very clumsy, bumping into things and having serious falls with remarkable frequency.
I’ve had only one fall recently. But that was after going to the gym and I think I overstrained myself.
The last time I fell before that? It’s been so long that I can’t even remember!
So my balance and coordination have improved a lot.
My self confidence has improved a lot too. And for the first time in my life, my family has started to take me seriously.
Read about Roisin’s experience and results in her Neurodevelopmental Programme: Roisin’s Story
NOTE: You do not necessarily need to find a single person who is both a study skills tutor and a neurodevelopmental movement expert. The two are closely related and some individuals have both skills, but it’s fine if you find two people to fill the two roles, so long as they work together closely.
Online vs. In-Person Tutoring
Unfortunately, these two simple criteria eliminate most dyspraxia tutors you’ll find online. Finding a great dyspraxia tutor near you might be impossible.
Considering an online tutor opens up a lot more options, but does it really work?
It’s probably obvious that study skills tutoring works well online, but what about neurodevelopmental movement support? Wouldn’t that need to be in person?
Well, it turns out, no.
In the old days, to develop a neurodevelopmental movement plan for a new client, we used to drive or fly to meet with the child and family, and observe them in person.
This creates the obvious challenges of travel time, costs and scheduling.
But the bigger problem was that by flying in we could only observe a child for a limited amount of time in one specific situation. We couldn’t get a full picture of the child doing a wide range of activities in their daily lives.
Fortunately, the Internet and smartphones have saved us from that.
It turns out that the best way to gather the observational information is for the parents and caregivers to take short video clips of the child going about their daily life – in all the different environments the child visits, doing a range of different activities.
With this collection of video clips, the neurodevelopmental movement expert can gather much richer and more complete information than was ever possible through in-person visits.
Then the remainder of the developmental program can easily be done online. Typically the expert will show the parents simple activities to practice with their child. Then all the actual neurodevelopmental activities are done as structured ‘play’ time between the parents and their child.
If the child is in their teens, the tutor may also work with the child directly online.
So these days we’d say that the most important thing is to find the best tutor (or tutoring team) for your child. So long as your schedules match up, there’s no particular advantage or disadvantage to having a local tutor vs. an online tutor.
If you would like to talk with one of our experts to discuss what would be the best approach to tutoring your dyspraxic child, book a free consultation today.