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If you had a dyspraxic child how would you given your own experience seek to educate them?

Poll ended at Wed Dec 21, 2005 3:01 pm

Home School
School Specifically for Learning Dificulties
Main Stream Education
Don't Know
Total votes : 14


Sun Dec 11, 2005 3:01 pm

I know this is far away for many of us but if you did have children and they were dyspraxic given your own experience how would you chose to educate them.


I just thought it would be intresting to hear the views on this not of profesionals but people who have actually lived with dyspraxia and are aware of the reality of the situation.

and what support is likely to actually be available.


Sun Dec 11, 2005 4:47 pm

Not sure, but I would prouberly try to intregate with mainstream with the right support if i could, but if not I would prrouberly try the other two options. :D

Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:24 pm

An ordinary school with an excellent special needs unit attached, where dyspraxic children would be given more than a couple of hours' support - whole lessons could be taught in there if needed. The ratio of 'special' lessons to ordinary lessons would be governed by need, with the most severely dyspraxic children spending most of their time in the unit. If they chose, they could go into 'ordinary' classes with a support worker to help.

But that's an ideal world.

Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:26 pm

I think about this a lot but I'm afraid the answer is 'don't know.'

I would love to home school my child but don't feel that I'd be able to teach them adequately or that they would listen to me and respect me in the way students do teachers. If I had lots of money I would pay for a private tutor but the liklihood is I won't have enough money to do that. If I home schooled my child I'd also worry that they were not getting enough opportunities to socialise with other children.

I would probably start off with a mainstream school and see how it went from there, although I wouldn't rule out a special school if dyspraxia was severe or I thought my child would be happier there, depending, of course on finanical situations. Having had experience with dyspraxia myself I know that if my child said they hated it I might let them stay off for a few days rather than watch them suffer because I know what it's like. This is a terrible thing to do though because they'd get no education and is one of the reasons I don't think I'd be a very good parent.

Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:31 pm

Somewhere with good special needs support.

Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:37 pm

Charlotte, in one message you posted on the Hideout, ages ago, you mentioned that you might have suffered from school phobia. * Hugs *. Yes, many dyspraxic children are fearful of school - especially if they have had bad experiences - that's quite, quite different to being phobic. It's unlikely that a child of yours would be afraid of school to the same extent that you were, so you needn't worry. :)

Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:51 pm

In theory main stream schooling with support can sound appealing but the reality of it for the dyspraxic child can be so unfullfilling and disheartning that I think I'd find it hard to accept. I know it places like London with the population to sustain it there are specalist schools for dyspraxia and dyslexia though they are within the private sector so expensive.

I wonder as well though having no experience of it, if it would exacerbate problems having a constant change of enviroments from special unit to the main school and highlight the child as being diffrent. Also I think its realy hard for a unit to be apropriate in focus and meet the needs of say a highly intelligent dyspraxic child, someone with aspergers, a child with ADHD and a child with behavioral problems which in reality is probably what would be expected of it.[/list]

Mon Dec 12, 2005 1:21 pm

I wonder as well though having no experience of it, if it would exacerbate problems having a constant change of enviroments from special unit to the main school and highlight the child as being diffrent.

I was educated in the setting I describe, and it worked for me. The transition from the support unit to the main school was very smooth, as my teachers were in constant communication with the SENCo. (Admittedly some were more enthusiastic about speaking to her on a regular basis than were others.) I was never highlighted as different because the classroom changes were so unobtrusive - I never walked back into the room in the middle of a lesson. Some of my special needs maths lessons, for example, took place when the others were doing extra sports. As everyone was forever changing groups in sports no one realised that I wasn't there.

The system wasn't perfect, but I know of a Cornish state school with a fabulous approach to SEN that comes close. Whenever there was a classroom change due to decorating, a meeting, or something similar, the 'regular' children would be taken into the special needs centre to study in a spare classroom there. The teachers' choice of spare classroom is never coincidental. The purpose of this exercise is to 'demystify' the special needs centre and those who go there.

Also I think its realy hard for a unit to be apropriate in focus and meet the needs of say a highly intelligent dyspraxic child, someone with aspergers, a child with ADHD and a child with behavioral problems which in reality is probably what would be expected of it.

I agree with you there. Lumping children together is never good. I was lucky - I had approximately three hours of one-on-one special education per week. (I think k9ruby receives something like eight hours!) I also had an hour and a half of extra maths with another dyscalculic girl. After GCSE that time was cut down drastically. They just didn't have the resources to give each student that kind of attention, and some people inevitably ended up in classes with students whose differences were completely disparate from theirs. However, I'd rather be taught maths in a special ed. room with an AD/HD child, an AS child, and someone with dyslexia than in a 'normal' classroom with twenty-four 'normal' children of varying ability AND the AD/HD child, the AS child, and the dyslexic child.

I definitely didn't do badly in my studies - far from it - but given the severity of my dyspraxia, I sometimes wonder whether a special school would have been better for me.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 2:43 pm

Sometimes I wonder if I am undully negative in my opinion of main stream education for dyspraxic students as I to did very well academicaly. I was not diagnosed till just before my GCSE's so did not recive much support at school. That I did recive with my handwriting was well intentioned but unsuccesful. I am luckily quite academicaly gifted so despite my undiagnosed dyspraxia managed to do well at school. I doubt if I had not been as able academicaly I would have managed to overcome my problems without support or got assesed as having dyspraxia.

The reason I mentioned specfic schools for dyspraxic and dyslexic chidren was they seemed so succesful at dealing with they commmunication and social needs of dyspraxic students. The one I'm aware of works intensivley on students for 2 or 3 years trying to give them the skills to cope with main stream education. Also bringing speach therapists etc. to the school so minimising the need to travel and disruption to there routine.

I think the sensory and social impact of dyspraxia can often be more profound when trying to function in society. I have found in my own life that when working or traveling my problems with reading or writing have generaly been accepted of in the age of the computer gone unnoticed. However my difficulties copping with social situation are much more difficult and harder for other people to appreciate. I belive that education is about developing the whole child. As such for a dyspraxic child this may mean concentrating on physical and emotional as well as educational needs. Then I hear you say why not have intergration in main stream schools to teach these children how to function in society? I just think its often unrealistic that the skills and facilities to do this will be present in sufficent schools. I have heard so many intergration nightmare stories the autistic boy who for intergration ment sitting in a class surounded by a screen. Saying all this I do think intergration can work I just fear that even in the best school it will not dealy with the full range of problems dyspraxic children suffer.

I also worry about the over use of teaching assistance with little training to help SEN students. My experience of the tutors I've had is that a tutor with lots of training and experience can make a real diffrence. Though some of the tutors I had obviously had experience with other SEN students they had little knowledge of what would be most helpful for me or real understanding of dyspraxia. If you havn't had support before you relly on a tutor who can offer helpful appropriate suggestions.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:22 pm

My dyspraxia is relatively mildI have been in mainstream education all my life. The help I recieved has varied.

My first primary school was awful. They didn't know I had dyspraxia (understandable, as this was in about 1993). They were also very suspicious of me because I was gifted. I asked "smart-alec" questions. I found the work boring. I struggled socially and was opunished for this. Sometimes it was fair of them to punish me, sometimes they should have showed more understanding.

My second primary school was wonderful. It was there that they found out I had dyspraxia. Being diagnosed so early was very good for me. They were very helpful without beuing patroninsing. I had one-on-one lessons with an Occupational Therapist. These taught me to write legibly, use a knife and fork, and helped me with my short term memory problems, among other things.

My third primary school tried to help, but didn't really understand. I was given special needs lessons which were directed at children who struggled academically. They didn't address co-ordination problems, handwriting, short-term memry, organisation, or finding my way arounf school.

My secondary school hasn't really helped. Like my third primary school, they seem to think that learning difficulties mean having a low IQ.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:03 pm

(I think k9ruby receives something like eight hours!) I

Correction: 12 hours, and apaprently going over the limit already!! (I got this extra support from the assement late last year!)

My first primary school was pretty bad, and apparently dad said at parents eveningings that i was lazy.stupoid/naughty etc... and they were spending my statement money on everythingf but me.

2nd primary school wasnt bad, I got extra time in exams abnd ggot a TA in every lesson, who my dad allready knew. some teacghhers were more understanding than others.

Secondary school is fabntastic, I now have 12+ support, a laptop of my own and many other things, allthough my mum isn;t that impressed with the head of the SENCO, as we had to fight hard for practically everything i have.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:26 pm

My experiences are quite different from both of yours, although elements remain the same. I am also gifted academically (according to my educational psychologist's report, my cumulative IQ score places me in the top 1% of the population, and my verbal IQ puts me in the top 0.1%) In my final year of primary school, when I was ten years old, my teacher tried to get me to take the GCSE English exam. The headmaster and the administration were doubtful about this, so my teacher - confident that I could prove him right - took me out of lessons for a morning and gave me a past paper to work through. When he collected it at breaktime, it was only half-finished and most of what I had written was illegible. I'll never forget the terse disappointment in his voice. That was when the usage of words like 'lazy' and 'insolent' became more frequent than ever.

My academic giftedness didn't help me because my dyspraxia is too severe. (In contrast to my verbal ability, my performance skills - spatial, motor, visual memory, etc. - place me in the bottom 0.3% of the population.) Most of my teachers realised that I was intelligent, and that made them even less inclined to accept such shoddy work. There were a few teachers who believed I was genuinely stupid - my French teacher in Year 7 being the principal culprit. Thanks to forgotten homework and illegible worksheets (why, oh why, do they give you such a tiny space to write in and use such a confusing layout?) my average grade for the term was a high D. Then came the end-of-year exam. Most of it was multiple choice. I got full marks. While my French teacher gibbered at my parents at the Parents' Evening about my 'unrealised potential', I just stared blankly at the wall. I knew I was clever and I knew the test was ludicrous.

We started to produce coursework for our language exams in fourth year (Year 10, the first year of GCSE study). By this time I had transferred to Colditz. Overjoyed that coursework was a component for the French exam - I could type it on the computer and hand in something legible! - I wrote an essay on Marie Antoinette and gave it in without a second thought. The next thing I knew, my teacher was snapping, "Well, I can see you didn't write this by yourself."

"I certainly did," I responded hotly. The unaccustomed cheek (I was usually very mild and timorous) startled her. She reread the essay and discovered several little mistakes (nouns with the wrong gender, etc.) that convinced her I was telling the truth. But why did I have to convince her? Why did she assume that I was incapable of producing good work?

The first teacher who not only realised that I had a specific learning difficulty, but acted on the information, was my Latin mistress. In the first year of my GCSE course, when we were required to take mock exams, she gave me a predicted grade of 'anything between A* and E'. Her prediction was one of the things that made people start to ask, "Why?" about me. I was diagnosed the next year, two terms before my GCSE's, and not a moment too soon. I did very well in those exams. But sometimes - only sometimes - I wonder whether I might have done still better in a special school. The frustration that comes with being seen as stupid when you know you're darned well not really hurts - but most of you know that from your own experiences.

A year ago I met two old classmates from Jeddah on the plane back to Saudi Arabia. They were insufferably condescending. I could feel myself shrinking back into the gawky, bumbling class clown I had been at the age of eleven. "Which universities have you been accepted by?" one of them enquired.

Oh, it felt so good to say, "Cambridge." My rather vindictive pleasure was shattered when they glanced at each other with raised eyebrows.

Socially, I still struggle. I probably always will. But the boarding house (Colditz) has worked marvels for my confidence and communication skills in this regard, and I doubt whether any special school could have done more for me. Then again, the house-mother was an experienced teacher who had specialised in SEN and then become headmistress of a mainstream school with an extremely high number of special needs students. She knew what she was doing. :wink:

She is a firm advocate for mainstream schooling, but even she will recommend a special school if she thinks a child needs it. She sent two of her pupils to special schools after they had been in her establishment for a year, saying that it is wrong to hold tightly to one particular theory - each child should be treated as an individual, and go to the place that best suits him. I think I agree with that.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 8:43 pm

I agree with you Parsenesus you have to do what works for the individual.

A lot of what you said rang true to me I to was thought lazzy by teachers who thought I was intelligent then alternativley stupid by others I could never decide what was better people thinking my eratic grades a fluke or a mark of laziness. When I discuss being being academicaly able as helping compensate for dyspraxia I don't mean that it helped in the classroom more that it helped me to discover alternative ways of learning ahhh being able to remember radio four programes near verbatum. ( I recomend today in parliment for any politics student) this was no compensation when you get back an exam script with a fail because they can't read it. It did however mean that when I was allowed to use a computer for exams I had learned something. I think my independent maintanence of an intellectual life away from school stopped me from going crazy. I remember at one stage at school constantly being moved away from plugs because I ussed to sit there flicking the switch out of sheer bordom. Intrestingly I think one of the teachers thought I was autistic due to this behaviour acidently stumbling on some truth?

I'm intrested that so many of you express negative primary school experiences up untill year 6 I never found primary school a problem though I recived no extra support the school did seem aware I had a problem they thought I had motor neuron thankfully proved wrong. i had older teachers luckily who ussed to set me sepperate work so I was always intellectualy streched and they minimised writing and other physical tasks for me I was always discretly sent off during sowing. So though I didn't have help with my dyspraxia I was intellectually stimulated which stopped me being frustrated. Though I was never socialy very able and was very quite and introverted it never bothered me I'm natrualy happy with my own company.

In contrast my secondary school experience was not so good for the first 5 years I was bored stiff yet became increasingly frustrated that my written work could not demonstrate my verbal ability. My physical problems also seemed much more pronounced in secondary school. I think a large part of my problem in secondary school is though I underachieved given my intellectual ability it was not prononced enough for me to be recognised. As I was told if I failed more dramticaly and broke some windows but I digress. I seemed able to be able to maintain C's in my work which for me was gross underachivment but for the teachers not note worth. I was always told my written work was illegible but strangley in my mind until 6 weeks before my GCSE's when my teacher noted no one would be able to read my exams no one felt it needed anything more than more attention from me.

I must say I did have one wonderful English teacher when I was 12 again reponsible for keeping me sane who told me to not worry about exams and just keep reading James Joyce.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:56 pm

You are extremely blessed, Ruby. Many dyspraxic students are lucky to get one hour of support a week, especially at GCSE level when the teachers' time is so taxed. Your school sounds very understanding. I'm glad that at least one person on this forum is receiving the support she needs.

Re: Education

Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:14 pm

it was almost one week of attention that helped me a lot to pull me up from dyspraxic.[/quote]

Hi Challa. I know the above quote may be the result of a language barrier as I believe English is not your first language (apologies if I am wrong but I had got that impression) but just to point out that your phrase "pull me up from dyspraxic" suggests that you viewed it as some sort of cure. Dyspraxia is part of who we are and won't disappear with one week of extra help. I had help throughout my educational career-I'm still dyspraxic. It is hardwired into our brains and gives us many strengths as well as difficulties.
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