Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that interferes with an individual’s physical coordination, making tasks such as writing, typing, or tying shoelaces significant challenges. This condition can greatly affect a child’s fine motor skills and speech, often leading to academic struggles and a hit to their self-esteem.
However, every challenge presents an opportunity for growth and transformation. We have developed a unique approach to supporting children with dyspraxia.
Instead of merely focusing on specific academic subjects, we specialize in teaching students the art of learning, working harmoniously with the limitations and special abilities that tend to come with dyspraxia. This approach is rooted in our extensive experience with neurodiverse students, including those with dyspraxia, ASD (Autism/Aspergers), dyslexia, and ADD/ADHD.
Our personalized programs aim to turn the struggles associated with dyspraxia into strengths, guiding students not just to cope, but to flourish. This approach is born out of the lived experiences, passion, and expertise of our founder, Margo Fourman. Despite her own battles with severe dyslexia and dyspraxia, she found a way to transform these challenges into strengths and is committed to helping students do the same.
We have found that traditional teaching methods may not be effective for students with dyspraxia.
So our mission is to support neurodevelopment and cultivate study skills and techniques that work for our students, making the learning process more attainable, enjoyable, and ultimately, rewarding.
Grasping Dyspraxia in Context
A crucial element of our training and learning support strategy involves frequent dialogues with both parents and individuals living with dyspraxia. These interactions enable us to identify and comprehend the real-world challenges posed by this condition, providing invaluable insights that only firsthand experience can offer.
From these exchanges, we’ve observed certain common patterns and challenges that most individuals with dyspraxia face. These challenges, coupled with our extensive research and professional expertise, help us to shape an effective approach towards managing dyspraxia – our Neurodevelopmental Program.
We recognize that dyspraxia is not simply a disability; it’s a unique way of interacting with the world. Individuals are not impaired but have a distinct way of engaging in everyday tasks.
Specifically, some examples of dyspraxia challenges include difficulties with non-routine motor tasks, which can manifest in seemingly simple activities that most people take for granted. A child may struggle to tie their shoelaces, engage in physical activities, or with tasks which require fine motor skills, such as writing.
In adults, dyspraxia symptoms can appear as difficulties with time management, task organization, and even planning. This can make ordinary activities like cooking, driving, or work tasks more challenging.
The goal of our Neurodevelopmental Program is to address these difficulties with a comprehensive and empathetic approach, thereby helping individuals with dyspraxia lead fulfilling and normal lives.
With a profound understanding of dyspraxia in context, our organization is well-prepared to assist individuals dealing with dyspraxia to maximize their potential and effectively manage the challenges posed by this condition.
Study Skills Tutoring
Our tutoring approach is not the typical subject-matter tutoring, but focuses on cultivating study skills. Our tutors aim not only to impart knowledge in specific subjects but to teach how to learn effectively, especially for those with neurodiversities. It is primarily geared towards addressing the unique way these individuals absorb and process information.
In our study skills tutoring, we assist individuals with dyspraxia in learning how to learn. This often involves breaking down tasks into smaller components and using techniques to:
- Understand schoolwork in a way that matches how their brain works
- Solving the problem in a way that works for them
- Constructing an answer in a way that matches what teachers and examiners want to see
As every child is different, it is essential that these methods are customized to each child. What works for one student may not work for another, so it’s a matter of detective work, involving trial and error to find what will work best for your child.
An essential aspect of our approach is to leverage the unique thinking styles that people with dyspraxia often possess, rather than change them to be ‘normal’. For example, many people with dyspraxia have a talent for what we call ‘cloud thinking’ – the ability to to see the big picture and just know the answer.
While we’ve found that study skills tutoring can help our students significantly improve their grades and life skills, they may continue to struggle unless the underlying neurological challenges are addressed.
This is where our Neurodevelopmental Program comes in.
When supporting children with dyspraxia, we often recommend our Neurodevelopmental Program.
Simply put, neurodevelopment pertains to the growth and evolution of the brain’s neural networks, which are instrumental in learning and information processing.
In our approach, we provide neurodevelopmental activities, designed to fortify the nervous system to support efficient learning and life skills.
This involves assessing individual needs and interests and tailoring neurodevelopmental activities accordingly. We firmly uphold the belief that the unique traits and differences of neurodiverse students should be respected and integrated into the design of learning strategies.
While every child is unique, and every neurodevelopmental program is customized for the specific person, here some are the systems that are often relevant to clients with dyspraxia:
- Vestibular System: The vestibular system is a complex set of structures and neural pathways in the inner ear that helps maintain balance and spatial orientation. In terms of functionality, the vestibular system tells you what angle your head is and is essential to a sense of balance. This system also plays a significant role in additional bodily functions. For example, the tightness of your muscles and their readiness to move, or ‘muscle tone’, is influenced by the vestibular system. Similarly, proprioception – the understanding of where your body is in space and time – also seems to be reliant on a well-organized vestibular system. Lastly, the bilateral coordination of the body, which is crucial for hand-eye coordination and the effective operation of two sides of the brain together, seems to be affected by the functioning of the vestibular system.
- Proprioception: This sense refers to our ability to perceive the location and movement of our body parts, even without visual confirmation or physical contact with external objects. It’s responsible for our awareness of the relative positions of different parts of our body and the level of effort we use in our movements. Essentially, proprioception is about understanding the spatial relationship between our body and the surrounding environment. Interestingly, proprioception seems to influence our perception of the placement of objects and the arrangement of elements within a picture. While most people can instinctively sense the position of their body parts at all times, certain individuals may exhibit poor proprioception, leading to difficulties in this area. A strong sense of proprioception is important for math, organization of belongings and thoughts, and even the correct use of tenses in language.
- Eye Tracking: A misalignment of how the two eyes track together can create an extra strain on the brain because the visual cortex has to combine the two mis-aligned images it receives. This can significantly increase the difficulty of tasks such as reading, comprehension and concentration. Eye tracking issues can sometimes be very subtle, which makes them hard to detect during standard exam by an optometrist. This is because optometrists typically focus on checking the focus of the eyes, not necessarily how well the two eyes are working together. Even slight discrepancies in eye tracking can create an extra strain on the brain as it tries to combine two slightly different images from each eye, which can lead to reading and concentration difficulties. Therefore, someone might pass a traditional eye exam, but still have issues related to eye tracking. By enhancing eye tracking, students may experience reduced strain and easier information processing. This can lead to improved reading speed and accuracy, better comprehension, and overall enhanced academic performance.
- Interhemispheric Integration: This refers to the communication between the two sides of the brain. It’s essential for coordinating activities that involve both hands or sides of the body, like typing or playing sports. For example, while typing, the fingers on both hands need to move in a coordinated way to press the correct keys. This coordination is facilitated by effective interhemispheric integration. Moreover, the concept extends beyond just physical actions. The integration and synergy between the two brain hemispheres enhance cognitive functions such as expressive language, problem-solving and creative thinking.
Again, each child is unique, so this is intended to provide representative examples. For any given child, we may also find that we need to address other systems to support their development.
The concept of neuroplasticity plays a significant role in neurodevelopment. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s capacity to form and reorganize synaptic connections, including in response to repeated activities.
This suggests that brain connections can indeed be forged and strengthened through targeted neurodevelopmental activities, forming the bedrock of our neurodevelopmental approach.
We develop a comprehensive program of neurodevelopmental activities for your child. These programs start with an in-depth assessment, and the resulting activities program is entirely customized for your child based on the results of that assessment.
Harnessing neurodevelopment and the remarkable potential of our brains to adapt and grow aids in crafting effective strategies that significantly boost learning capacity, especially for individuals grappling with dyspraxia.
A Holistic Approach
We recognize that each learner is unique, and thus we employ a dual approach – combining study skills tutoring and neurodevelopment – that is flexible and tailored to meet each client’s needs.
We generally recommend that a student starts with our neurodevelopmental program. The rationale behind this recommendation stems from our observation that nearly all individuals who first undergo our neurodevelopmental program seldom require additional tutoring.
The neurodevelopmental program is specifically designed to reshape the brain’s learning capacity. We’ve had clients who achieved remarkable results solely from this program, even when their initial academic performance was subpar. They were able to successfully pass their exams without the need for additional tutoring.
However, it’s important to note that the need for tutoring still varies from one individual to another. While the neurodevelopmental program suffices for most, there is still a portion of clients who benefit from further tutoring. This is often the case for clients who are significantly behind in their studies and require extra support to catch up.
Therefore, the role of tutoring in our approach is always flexible; we adjust it according to the specific needs and progress of the individual. Whether it’s additional support after the neurodevelopmental program or an immediate need due to upcoming exams, our goal remains the same: equip our clients with the ability to excel academically and in life.
In conclusion, conventional approaches often fall short in providing an effective learning pathway for students with dyspraxia. This is largely due to the failure to acknowledge that their unique learning needs differ significantly from those of typical learners.
Therefore, the two primary considerations when seeking dyspraxia support include the need for targeted neurodevelopmental activities, sometimes combined with study skills tutoring rather than subject matter tutoring.
Should you need more assistance or advice in helping your child with dyspraxia thrive, we are always here to offer support and expert-led guidance.
Remember, in the face of these learning challenges, the ultimate goal is not just to survive, but to truly thrive. By utilizing our uniquely tailored methods and approaches, we firmly believe that dyspraxia can indeed be transformed from a hurdle into a superpower.