How Parents And Teachers Can Help
When a child has trouble fitting in it can lead to feelings of low self-worth. Thats why encouraging these kids and helping them find activities that they are good at is key. If a student with autism is interested in a particular topic, allow them to study it.
Help dyspraxic learners develop their coordination skills by familiarizing them with activities before they are expected to perform them in front of others. Allow them plenty of time to learn and practice a series of movements.
Confidence-building in an academic sense is also important, as many dyspraxic and autistic learners feel disempowered in a traditional classroom. Provide them with opportunities for success and then follow up with plenty of due praise. Learn more in our posts on building confidence in learners and Self-esteem vs. confidence, whats the difference?
The Overlap: Dyspraxia And Autism
Dyspraxia and Autism are NOT the same
DISCLAIMER: I am not a specialist in dyspraxia or autism but as a dyspraxic person, I do have first-hand experience of the difficulties dyspraxic people may face and how dyspraxia can be confused with autism. I have also gained information from reliable sources which I will reference at the end.
PLEASE NOTE: Not all dyspraxic people or all autistic people are the same. The lists provide symptoms of both of the conditions. A person does not always have every symptom and two people with the same condition can have differing symptoms. Symptoms can range from mild, moderate to severe. Most importantly, we all have our own unique personalities.
As a twenty four year old who was diagnosed with verbal and motor dyspraxia at the age of seven, my condition has several times been confused with Autistic Spectrum Disorder . This continued even after I was discharged by my psychiatrist at the age of twelve. She told me that although there were signs I might be autistic, she did not think I was as most of my problems were to do with dyspraxia.
Thats just physical, isnt it? Like co-ordination.
Not quite. Although some people can just have motor dyspraxia, it is also possible to have more than one type of dyspraxia, like myself. Whether you have one or a combination of these types, it can also affect certain aspects of your life which is something I will talk about later on.
Is Dyspraxia A Mental Illness
DCD/Dyspraxia is often recognised as a movement disorder, but the emotional effects can be deeply felt. Without the right recognition and support, dyspraxia/DCD can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, particularly for adults who experience difficulties in higher education and at work.
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Motor Ability And Motor Planning
Your childs motor ability is not the same as her ability to motor plan. There are many physical actions that your child can do, thus she is demonstrating motor ability. But if she has trouble doing what she wants to do when she wants to do it, she has difficulty with motor planning.
Perhaps she cannot always move her body in the way that she wants. She may have trouble intentionally performing certain actions. It may take her time and a lot of effort to succeed at performing an action. She might have some motor movements that are patterned and she may have difficulty stopping or changing these patterns, leaving her stuck in repetitive movements. When she is not trying, she may be quickly successful at various motor actions, while being unable to do the same actions when she is requested to do so.
If a child sees something that he wants at the top of the stairs, he might climb up the stairs and grab the desired item. But, if he is asked to focus on going up the stair, he might have difficulty doing it. There are two different kinds of intention involved. In one case, the boy is acting impulsively. In the other case, he is being asked to focus on the movement. Sometimes with dyspraxia, the child can act according to impulse, but has difficulty being successful when focusing on more planned and sequenced movements.
What Is Pathological Demand Avoidance
Pathological Demand Avoidance or PDA is a new proposed subset of Autism, which is not in the official diagnostic manuals. As a result, some have labelled it as a distinct condition in the same way Aspergers was once used. Pathological Demand Avoidance is also often used as a term to describe how an individual will experience an overwhelming need to avoid or resist demands .
It is really important to understand that when a child is avoiding demands, it is because of anxiety, even if it doesnt look like anxiety. This is very important to keep in mind, because parents can often respond with more demands which then increases the anxiety further. Sometimes autistic children will avoid demands with challenging behaviours, but the underlying cause is still anxiety. This means that the most important thing to do is to search for the cause of the anxiety and support that. Your child might be screaming or kicking or biting and running away but it is important to remember that although this might not look like typical anxiety this is something that is causing your child distress and anxiety and something they need to be supported with.
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Is Dyspraxia On The Autism Spectrum
A question that Ive seen a lot recently on social media, such as facebook groups for dyspraxia, is: Is dyspraxia on the autism spectrum? This seems to cause a lot of confusion, while some people say No, it isnt others say Yes, it is. So I thought I would blog about it for those of you who may have been asking this question.
So, what is the answer to this question? No, dyspraxia technically isnt on the autism spectrum. I know Ive talked about how much overlap there is in my previous blogs, but the reason it isnt actually on the autism spectrum is due to the diagnostic criteria.
An autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed primarily on the basis that you have difficulties with social communication & interaction and you engage in restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests and activities . Whilst I mentioned in my previous blog on autism that lots of autistic people also have difficulties with spatial awareness and motor skills etc., these are not the primary criteria used for diagnosing autism.
Dyspraxia, on the other hand, is diagnosed primarily on the basis that you have difficulties with motor skills. Again, as I have mentioned before, many dyspraxics also experience difficulties in social situations, change of routine etc., but these are not the primary criteria used for diagnosing dyspraxia.
Where Dyspraxia And Autism Overlap
Many children with autism spectrum disorders will exhibit symptoms of dyspraxia, and vice-versa. Shared symptoms may include difficulties with spoken language, sensitivity to light and noise, problems concentrating, and others.
However, this does not mean that they are the same. Fundamentally, autism is a disorder that affects socialization and communication, while dyspraxia affects motor skills and physical coordination. While coinciding symptoms arent uncommon, the two are considered distinct disorders.
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What Is Fragile X Syndrome
FXS is a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges, and various physical characteristics. Though FXS occurs in both genders, males are more frequently affected than females, and generally with greater severity. The agreed upon prevalence of FXS is approximately 1 in 3,6004,000 for males and 1 in 4,0006,000 for females.
No one individual will have all the features of FXS:
- Behavioral characteristics include ADD, ADHD, social anxiety, hand-biting and/or flapping, poor eye contact, sensory disorders, increased risk for aggression, and autism and autistic-like behaviors.
- Intellectual disabilities include a range from moderate learning disabilities to more severe intellectual disabilities.
- Physical features may include large ears, long face, soft skin, and large testicles in post-pubertal males.
- Connective tissue problems may include ear infections, flat feet, high arched palate, double-jointed fingers, and hyper-flexible joints.
- Disposition: They are very social and friendly, have excellent imitation skills, have a strong visual memory/long term memory, like to help others, are nice, thoughtful people and have a wonderful sense of humor.
Could Dyslexia Be A Comorbidity Of An Autism Spectrum Disorder
Both autism spectrum disorders and dyslexia can be classified as neurodevelopmental conditions with rising prevalence amongst children. Officially an autism spectrum disorder is an exclusionary criterion for a diagnosis of dyslexia and vice versa .
There are, however, significant symptoms that are shared by these two conditions and which inform the opinion that, although autism and dyslexia are distinct conditions, they can occur in the same individual. Research concerning the connection between ASD and dyslexia is scant, but studies have explored a gene shared between the two neurodevelopmental conditions.
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Much Deeper Than Mirror Writing
The idea or myth mentioned abovethat dyslexia is simply a learning disability where children reverse letters and numbers and see words backwardsmade dyslexia seem like a visual disturbance or challenge. This was proven in a study where findings indicated that even teachers upheld the prevailing myth that dyslexia is a visual processing disorder encompassing mirror writing and word reversal rather than a phonological processing disorder.
In contrast, a study mentions the cognitive basis of dyslexia. The authors refer to dyslexia as a language disorder with specific deficits in phonological processing.
The same study by Shaywitz et al. feels evidence of disruptions in the neural systems serving reading has far reaching implications for the acceptance of dyslexia as a valid disorder.
The difficulties caused by dyslexia cant be denied, but diagnosing the condition has always been difficult. Some studies feel the existing definitions of dyslexia are to blame for unreliable diagnosis, possibly due to the fact that definitions of the disorder rely on a single indicatorfor example deficits in decoding.
A holistic way of evaluating dyslexia may also be of importance when diagnosing a child with autism who shows such symptoms. Rather than focusing on a single indicator, like the above mentioned letter reversal, it is important to look at the childs symptoms, medical history, comorbidities and any other relevant factors to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
Treating Sensory Processing Disorder
Once clear about your childs diagnosis this knowledge is essential in coordinating efforts among your childs treatment team. You know your child best and can help teachers and other professionals working with your child understand your childs sensory world. Here are some interventions drawn from play therapy and occupational therapy that I have found helpful:
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Can I Claim Benefits For Dyspraxia
Disability Living Allowance. You may be entitled to receive a benefit from the Department of Work and Pensions if your child has dyspraxia/attention deficit/dyslexia etc. DLA stands for Disability Living Allowance and it is not means tested, nor is it taxable. There are 2 elements to it caring and mobility.
Is Lionel Messi Autistic
Lionel Messi is a professional footballer from Argentina. He plays for both the international teams of Argentina and Barcelona. There have been discussions as to whether he has autism or not.
In 2013, the former footballer and current politician Romario referred to an article that suggested Messi suffered from Asperger syndrome. The video on the YouTube channel Soccer Stories Oh My Goals video where Romario quoted the journalist Roberto Amado who made this suggestion also suggests that Albert Einstein had one type of high-functioning autism
The video claims that Messi had problems with reading social cues and interacting with other people when he was a child, which are typical autistic traits. An anecdote from a journalist for El Pais proved that Lionel came onto the pitch with a plastic spoon in his mouth and didnt remove it until the end of the session. This could be looked upon as an autism-related mannerism, but the video claimed that Messi did this as a way of showing how annoyed he was. Nobody knew why he was annoyed, and nobody tried to find out either.
Even though the journalist Romario quoted had no intention to stigmatise the journalist, he wanted to draw attention to his exceptionality. The video believes that it was foolish of Amado to call Messi autistic.
About Dr Arielle Schwartz
Meet Dr. Arielle Schwartz
As a psychologist and mother of two, my passion is to teach parents how to integrate the tools of play therapy into your home and through clinical supervision, teach other clinicians how to support families with highly sensitive children. I understand the unique challenges parents can face in raising sensitive children and specialize in working with children with sensory processing disorders, speech/language delays, anxiety, challenging behaviors, trauma exposure, and emotional problems.
Dr. Arielle Schwartz is a licensed clinical psychologist, wife, and mother in Boulder, CO. She offers trainings for therapists, maintains a private practice, and has passions for the outdoors, yoga, and writing. Dr. Schwartz is the author of The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole. She is the developer of Resilience-Informed Therapy which applies research on trauma recovery to form a strength-based, trauma treatment model that includes Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing , somatic psychology and time-tested relational psychotherapy. Like , and sign up for email updates to stay up to date with all her posts.
The Influence Of Childcare And The Childs Environment
A third possibility is that environmental factors alone may be enough to trigger not just autistic behaviors, but also other maladaptive behaviors such as inattention. Autistic behaviors were observed in a study of abandoned Romanian children, conducted by Michael Rutter and colleagues . As well as cases with known genetic causes, in some cases, underlying social factors may predispose autistic symptoms. In this study, Rutter and colleagues noted a very high instance of autism in the Romanian baby cohort, which they put down to poor early care. These children exhibited typical symptoms of autism at four years old, but unlike cases of autism without maltreatment, symptoms by age 6 were much milder. This case is an illustration of how children who share severe autistic symptoms at young ages may have differing developmental trajectories. In this study, the symptoms of autism may have been triggered primarily by the early neglect, rather than by a genetic predisposition, for if a genetic predisposition was involved it would effect 6% or more of the babies, a very high proportion.
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Does An Adhd Brain Look Different
ADHD: Large imaging study confirms differences in several brain regions. The largest imaging study of its kind finds that people diagnosed with ADHD have altered brains. It identifies size differences in several brain regions and the brain overall, with the greatest differences seen in children rather than adults.
Comorbidity Between Dyslexia And Asd
There is only a small literature on the overlap in symptomology between autism spectrum disorders with those of dyslexia. Officially, as for ADHD, ASD is an exclusionary criterion for diagnosis of dyslexia and vice versa, but ASD also shows overlap with dyslexia in both cognitive and behavioural features . A proportion of children share symptoms between dyslexia, ADHD and ASD.
The number of children that do share symptoms of ASD and dyslexia is likely to be small . The frequency of reading disorder in combination with disorder of written expression was around 14% in a sample of adults with Aspergers Syndrome so according to this result around one in seven individuals with AS will have co-occurring dyslexia . However the proportion of individuals with dyslexia who have co-occuring AS is likely to be low as Aspergers Syndrome is much a rarer condition than dyslexia.
Overall, the literature suggests, there is good evidence to suggest that some children do suffer from symptoms of both dyslexia and ASD, although this is not so well established, and does not occur so frequently as co-morbidity between ADHD and ASD.
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Reading Spelling And Handwriting Difficulties
As mentioned before, the challenges of dyslexia become more apparent as children learn to read and write. As reading and writing depend on similar underlying processes, children with dyslexia often have writing difficulties .
Handwriting challenges may apply to autistic children too. According to Fuentes et al. children with ASD showed a worse performance on handwriting tasks in comparison to age and intelligence matched children in the control group.
As far as reading deficits are concerned, an overview of neuroimaging studies titled Reading, dyslexia and the brain reveal that a convergence of studies show the dyslexic brain is characterized by under-activation of the vital neural networks for reading.
This biological basis of dyslexia disproves the hurtful sentiment that dyslexic children should just try harder. Once teachers and peers realize that, for dyslexic children, learning and reading difficulties may stem from deficits in processing the sound system of language, such myths will hopefully be dispelled.
With regards to reading in children with autism, the spectrum nature of the condition once again means some autistic individuals excel at reading while others face severe reading impairments. Reading impairments in autistic children are especially prevalent when it comes to comprehension. Autistic children may figure out how to decode words and appear to read well but comprehension of what they are reading may be negatively affected.
Are Dyspraxia And Developmental Coordination Disorder The Same Thing
Developmental Coordination Disorder , also known as dyspraxia, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. The Dyspraxia Foundation adds to the Movement Matters description, recognising the many non-motor difficulties that may also be experienced by people with the condition and which can have a significant impact on daily life activities. These include memory, perception and processing as well as additional problems with planning, organising and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations. Dyspraxia can also affect articulation and speech.
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