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EDUCATION REPORT - Learning Disabilities, Part 4: Dyspraxia - 2004-02-25

Broadcast: February 26, 2004

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

People who have unusual difficulty with reading, writing or other skills may have a learning disability. Today we continue our series about learning disabilities with a report about a movement disorder. This condition is called dyspraxia.

With dyspraxia, the brain does not send messages clearly to other parts of the body. People with dyspraxia have a poor understanding of the messages sent by their senses. They have difficulty linking these messages to actions. As a result, people with dyspraxia have trouble planning and organizing thoughts. Physical activities are also difficult to learn and perform.

Experts say the kinds of difficulties experienced by a person with dyspraxia can change from day to day or at different times in life. Babies with dyspraxia do not try to crawl or roll over. Later, they may have difficulty with eye movements. They may move their head instead of just their eyes. Children with dyspraxia may have trouble walking or holding a cup, riding a bicycle or throwing a ball.

Social skills may be difficult for people with dyspraxia to learn. So they might have trouble making friends. People with dyspraxia can find sports activities extremely difficult. They may even have trouble speaking. Some cannot make the physical movements necessary to speak clearly. Adults with dyspraxia can have problems driving a car or cleaning the house. They can have problems cooking, writing, typing, even washing and dressing themselves.

Experts say dyspraxia cannot be cured. They say people with this disorder must understand that it takes them longer to learn to do things than other people. It will also take them longer to remember how to do what they have already learned.

Early intervention can help. Professional therapists say there are ways to help make life easier for those with dyspraxia. They say parents and teachers must understand that people with dyspraxia need help learning simple movements. Experts say children should be urged to take part in easy physical activities that can increase their trust in their abilities.

We continue our series about learning disabilities next week. All of our programs are on the Internet at Links to more information about dyspraxia are also included.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.