Have you ever had this thought when you walk out of an appointment with a specialist; “Now what did they just tell me it was? I know they gave me some sort of information about something with some strange name but now I cannot remember anything they said.” If you answered “yes” well I’m pleased to tell you, you are definitely not alone. I know that this has happened to me on several occasions and as a speech pathologist, I also know that I am often that specialist tossing around terminology that most of us have never even heard of. One common question I often get asked is.” What exactly is dyslexia and how is this different to dyspraxia?” So right now I am going to do my best to tell you the key points about both of these diagnoses and how they differ from one another.
What is Dyslexia?: It is the term used to describe a specific reading disability associated with difficulties in processing written information. People affected with dyslexia primarily have trouble recognising words, spelling, decoding and reading comprehension. It is NOT linked to IQ, however it is a very common learning disability.
What is Dyspraxia?: It is the term used to describe individuals who have difficulties in understanding, planning and executing gross and fine motor tasks. As with Dyslexia, it is NOT linked to IQ, however it may cause learning difficulties in some individuals. (Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia or Childhood apraxia of speech is a term given to individuals who have difficulty planning and executing the motor movements required for speech.) It is not uncommon for children to present with both motor and verbal dyspraxia.
What are the causes: of Dyslexia?
Research is still being conducted to determine the specific causes of dyslexia. Many specialists believe it is most likely an inherited disorder as it is often seen in several family members. Boys are more likely to be affected than girls. It is widely believed that there are genetic defects linked to difficulties with reading. In some cases dyslexia will also occur as a result of an acquired brain injury or stroke.
What are the causes of Dyspraxia?
As with Dyslexia, research is still being conducted to determine the specific causes of dyspraxia. Many specialists believe it is most likely caused by the incorrectly developed nerve cells which tell our muscles what to do. It is not a result of physical deficits. It is, like dyslexia, also believed to be an inherited disorder as it is often seen in several family members. Boys again, are more likely to be affected than girls. The term developmental dyspraxia is given to individuals who are born with dyspraxia and in some cases such as dyslexia, it will also occur as a result of an acquired brain injury or stroke.
Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia
The most common signs (but not limited to) of dyslexia include:
*Difficulty learning to read even though the individual has normal intelligence and teaching support.
*Phonological processing difficulties (Phonemic awareness skills) where the individual has difficulty identifying the sounds and syllables in words and also has difficulty being able to blend sounds together to form words. Individuals with dyslexia will also often have difficulties understanding and producing rhyme.
*Difficulties with spelling, including letter and number reversals as well confusion with identifying and retaining spelling rules.
*Difficulties with concentration for long periods of time as well as taking longer to learn and retain sequences of information such as days of the week, multiplication tables, alphabet letters and sounds.
Signs and Symptoms of Dyspraxia
The most common signs (but not limited to) of dyspraxia include:
* Taking longer to reach developmental milestones such as sitting; crawling; walking; speaking; toilet training
*Physical co-ordination difficulties such as difficulties getting dressed; tying shoelaces; using scissors; kicking a ball; jumping
*Poor organisation of thoughts and taking longer to complete tasks
*Overly sensitive tactile system-may be extremely sensitive to taste, light, noise and/or touch
*Difficulties in learning new skills
*Messy handwriting in school aged children
*Difficulties sustaining attention to one task at a time as well as often being quite fidgety
*May find it more challenging to socialise with peers
Diagnosis of Dyslexia
This can often be a long and at times complex process carried out by a specialist in this field or multiple specialists such as Paediatricians, Clinical/Educational Psychologists, Speech Pathologists and teachers. Testing will most likely include:
*Case history information including any family history
*Phonological processing assessment
*Full receptive and expressive language assessment
*Reading accuracy and comprehension including decoding of familiar and unfamiliar words
*Vision and hearing
Diagnosis of Dyspraxia
Much like Dyslexia, this can often be a long and at times complex process and must be carried out by a specialist in this field. Usually this specialist will be a paediatrician, Occupational Therapist or clinical/educational psychologist. For Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia, the specialist will be a Speech Pathologist. Testing will most likely include:
*Case history information including thorough documentation of when the individual achieved relevant developmental milestones such as crawling, walking and talking.
*Assessment of current gross and fine motor skills including balance and touch sensitivity
*Full receptive and expressive language assessment as individuals with dyspraxia may present with associated language and learning difficulties.
Treatment of both Dyslexia and Dyspraxia
There is currently no cure for dyslexia or dyspraxia, however there are a wide range of targeted programs which can be facilitated and/or implemented by specialists in the field. These specialists include, but are not limited to Speech Pathologists; Occupational Therapists and Psychologists. The specialists involved in the child’s intervention will be determined by whether the child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or dyspraxia. While each targeted program may vary, the overwhelming consensus by specialists working in both fields is that the sooner the child receives support the more chance they will have to improve their skills.
If you believe your child may present with any signs of either Dyslexia or Dyspraxia, it is recommended you seek out professional advice from your child’s teacher; Paediatrician; Speech Pathologist; Occupational Therapist or Psychologist.
Additional Information other than writer’s experience sourced from www.medicalnewstoday.com
For further information contact: dyslexiaassociation.org.au and Australian Dyspraxic Association
Kath Keiper is the co-creator of three beautiful children who while driving her crazy, make her laugh everyday. Having been a paediatric speech pathologist for over 15 years, Kath has also spent her life dedicated to helping children and families. Through her career Kath has been fortunate to speak at varying events such as the World Autism Congress and Speech Pathology Australia. Being able to make a positive difference in many children and families lives has always been Kath’s highlight. Her love of helping children, making a difference and performing, have also been the driving force behind the creation of her first DVD for children “Can you sound like me?”