Dyspraxia and schooling

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Dyspraxia and schooling
Wed, 08-01-2012 - 6:31pm

My 4yo son has been in OT for 1.5 years to work on dyspraxia and related sensory processing issues. I'm thinking ahead to kindergarten and am starting to freak out. Would anyone mind sharing their experience with how their dyspraxic kid handled school (at any age)?


* Use a 504 plan to get them accommodations?

* Use an IEP to get them services?

* Send them to a special needs program specifically for dyspraxia (we actually do have one at a local elementary)? 

* Did you eventually pull them out for homeschooling?

* Private school with a smaller class size? 


 So many options- that's why I'm looking into it now...    :smileywink:


Thanks for your time!


~ Heidi

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Registered: 01-05-2005
Thu, 08-02-2012 - 5:51pm

My 4yo son has been in OT for 1.5 years to work on dyspraxia and related sensory processing issues. I'm thinking ahead to kindergarten and am starting to freak out. Would anyone mind sharing their experience with how their dyspraxic kid handled school (at any age)?

 * Use an IEP to get them services? My son had an IFSP for "developmental delays" and received speech, OT and PT (as well as some sensory integration tools like the Wilbarger brushing, weighted vest etc), from 18 months on. At age 3 he entered the local preschool for services. At age 5, he went to our local elementary school. He had a partial aide in K and I, and continued to receive speech, OT and PT. His primary diagnosis was and is under the speech category. 

In third grade, he "graduated" from OT and PT. He continues an IEP for speech. He is now 12 and entering 7th grade.

Overall, we are THRILLED with his progress!!  Academically, he is in a gifted program at middle school and thriving. I will say, in the early years, it was often hard for us to "show" that he was smart. His clumsiness, his poor articulation, and his general way of speaking (he has some expressive language deficits) had the unfortunate effect of making teachers think he wasn't that bright. Not to mention, fitting in a pull-out gifted program was tough when he was receiving so many other services in elementary school... 

He is still a bit clumsy, but he did track last year (okay, one of the slower kids, but still), does orchestra (bass turned out to be perfect for his big hands and didn't seem to require the "fine tuning" of the smaller instruments) and has pretty much outgrown all his sensory issues. His body awareness is still a little "off" but not in any great way. It's more little things (we recently tried contacts, and that was a disaster). He played soccer for five years and never scored a goal, and he only learned to ride a bike when he was 9 or 10 (he loves it now). He tied his shoes pretty late (gotta love velcro) and his drawing tops out at stick figures! But, I guess all those things were minor compared with the biggies - which were that he loved school and he learned a lot.

We were also lucky that he had the same SLP, who was also his case manager, for six years (K-5) and that helped tremendously! She advocated tirelessly for him and helped with the small things. Even in middle school, the case manager has stepped in for a few minor things (like a new gym locker, since he was just unable to open his - user error not an issue with the lock). Public school overall has worked out great for us. Every year has gotten better and better.

What specific  concerns do you have about your son, and what would the dyspraxia program entail? My only concern with special programs is that they sometimes (though certainly not always) have low expectations for the academics. We had to make accommodations for my son (when it came to writing and other fine motor) but we wanted to make sure they still challenged him. As far as homeschooling, honestly, I felt like I couldn't provide what the school did. His therapists were great and the classroom experience was really good for him. Classmates were generally very, very sweet (though many were jealous of his exercise ball seat, lol!) and he was okay with the crowd (although he's always best when he can have some quiet, alone time).

Good luck - I remember being overwhelmed and discouraged when my son was starting school; he just seemed SO far behind. But, with a lot of work, he's made amazing progress. I can still tell he has a speech problem and I see the OT deficits, but most people don't know or notice.



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Registered: 05-02-2004
Wed, 08-08-2012 - 1:01am
My son was never "diagnosed" but has various muscle related delays that affect his speech, writing and reading. I suspect dyspraxia.

He started speech at 3, then at 4 started OT. He got the worst teacher for kinder (his sister had her - she was evil - told a kid in speech 4 times a week to not talk like a baby. In front of mom. Kid didn't talk in class for the rest of the year.) So, when it came to kinder and he got the teacher, I pulled him to homeschool as I was starting to homeschool his older sister that year too.

We do homeschool with charter schools, and he still gets speech and OT, at age 10. We moved when he was in 2nd grade. I got him evaluated by a psychologist, who said he had various muscle delays and more importantly to him, ADHD. We chose not to do meds. The week after we started vision therapy. It turns out the uncoordinated muscles in his face and hands, also meant that he couldn't focus his eyes together. Most of the time he was seeing two of everything unless he moved. Reading was really hard, I had to point to the words for him as he couldn't even keep his finger under.

After vision therapy, things really improved. Now that he could see, he could also learn to write - cursive works best.. He now reads way above grade level. But...his ability to write his own thoughts are way below grade level. So we had that tested and he does have expressive issues (which as he does a whole word stutter type of thing, makes sense.) So the OT got a device called a Fusion. It does word prediction and reads back to him. And has spell check. Which works pretty well, but we are finding it is not the finger movement, it really is getting the words down.

The Fusion is supposed to be allowed on state tests. But when checking last year, the teacher thought it sounded like the state person thought that it shouldn't be allowed - that it was an unfair advantage. I wish she could have seen my son work - it took him 3 hours to do two 4 sentence paragraphs - but if you talk to him, his giftedness stands out. If they take out that option, we will not do state testing any more.

Specifically to your questions:

IEP - keep it as long as you can. If he isn't making progress, but isn't up to grade level, see if they can move services to once a month so that when he is more mature they can bring it back up so he can catch up.

Special class: If they have it, I would say yes. If you can this year, go and sit in on the special ed class and see how it is working. (If you do it in the fall you will have a better idea of the starting points where your son will be entering.) Also go and sit in on a traditional kinder. See what they both do.

Homeschooling: yes. I knew that with the teacher he got that he would be a very unhappy kid by the end of the year. The teacher did not like special needs kids, and made fun of and belittled kids as ways of controlling the class. He really wants to please, being told he is bad by a teacher would be very demoralizing. Had he gotten any of the other three teachers, we would have done kinder, then pulled for 1st grade to be with his sister. Just didn't work out for him. This certainly is NOT the case for everyone. We just had some bad situations with a bad school and a bad teacher.

Private school: most private schools send kids with IEPs to the local public school to get those services. Which would be during the school day and you would have to provide transport. In the public schools the OTs have what is sometimes called "Push-in" where the OT works with the kid in the classroom so the teacher can see how to do work with the kid the rest of the time. My son gets services at the local school, which he would as an independent home schooler as well. His school does "consult days" when the speech therapists and OTs go in once a month to the classrooms. I get a few extra minutes at the end of each session so homework and techniques can be explained to me instead of the once a month thing.

I hope this all helps some. I know that there are a number of homeschoolers with special needs at the homeschooling board, and a few in with the gifted board. (One gifted homeschooled teen there uses an iPad I think for his writing and testing - but he is in Canada, so rules are different.)

I have faith in my son he will catch up. It may not be 12, 15 or 18. But he is smart, and if needed there is technology out there for him. When he needs it, I push for it, and he gets it. Hopefully he will not always need it and it will be a choice to use or not. But, as long as civilization stays good, (which I think it will) using technology will become the norm, handwriting the exception, except in schools.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Wed, 08-08-2012 - 1:04am
Oh, I didn't mention that my son had a slew of sensory issues - movement, things in his mouth, hugging people and more. Most of that corrected with vision therapy. He has slowed down a lot, doesn't need to hug (but wants to.) He doesn't touch everything anymore, can ride a bike, and actually see in 3D now, when sitting still! I knew something was not right, just didn't know exactly what until talking to people who did vision therapy for their own kids.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Mon, 08-13-2012 - 9:35am

Yes, thanks! (From another mom of a pre-schooler with a dx now narrowed down to either mild CP or dyspraxia).


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Registered: 06-14-1999
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 9:43am

My oldest son was dx'd with dyspraxia and sensory integration dysfunction in first grade.  We tried to make school work for a year and a half.  Even with an IEP, it just didn't seem to make school more endurable for him.  He couldn't write at all, and didn't seem to get enough accomodations for that.  He had social problems and his teacher was not very patient with him.  He just hated school.  I pulled him out and homeschooled him all the way through high school.  His writing is still very illegible.  The transition into adulthood has been hard for him.  I wanted him to get spec. ed. accomodations at college but he refused.  He ended up dropping out after the first year.  He's been in the hospital for suicidal depression.  I'm not sure if keeping him in a school that he hated would have been better than the choice we made.  School is a lot different for my younger sons (both with aspberger's dx's).  At least in the district we are in now, special education has come a long way in the last decade.  If they aren't happy or I have concerns, the staff addresses it promptly and it gets fixed. Also, I'm older now and I go into an IEP meeting respecting the expertise of their teachers and therapists, but also asserting that I am the expert on my child.  Maybe when I was younger, I didn't assert myself and advocate for my child as well.  Also, I was younger so probably less respected by the school staff.  I hope that my two younger boys will end up with a happier life than their older brother has.