Mental Health and Dyspraxia
Although Dyspraxia is often described as a motor skills disorder, the condition can cause emotional and social difficulties for children that can negatively affect their mental health. In fact, research shows that children, teenagers, and adults with Dyspraxia are at an increased risk of experiencing mental health disorders than their typically developing peers.
There are a number of reasons that may explain this:
- Children with dyspraxia may not like to participate in group activities and sports for fear of being ridiculed about their poor motor coordination. This can cause them to withdraw from group activities, leading to social isolation.
- Difficulties with organisation and fine motor skills may impact on a child’s ability to perform to their full potential in school, despite normal intelligence. This can be very frustrating for someone with Dyspraxia, and the pressure to keep up with school work may cause them a lot of stress.
- Communication difficulties may impact a child’s ability to express themselves fully or to participate in discussions in school or social settings. Again, this may cause social anxiety and withdrawal from socialising with peers.
- Communication difficulties may also lead to children internalising their feelings. Talking to someone about issues is so important for positive mental health. Keeping everything bundled up inside can be damaging for a child’s mental health.
- Poor awareness of Dyspraxia amongst the general public, with it often being mistaken for Dyslexia or clumsiness, has been shown to be another factor that causes frustration and stress for young people with Dyspraxia. Young people often feel misunderstood and that no one can relate to how they are feeling.
If your child is struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of things you can do to help.
Joining a local Dyspraxia support group can be a great way for your child to get involved in group activities and encourage social engagement. These also allow them to interact with people who understand their frustrations and worries and may be able to offer advice and support. Check out your local area to see if Dyspraxia Ireland has a branch near you.
Staying physically active is important for maintaining positive mental health. Gross motor exercises like the ones in the Beats Medical App are a great way to stay active while also improving your child’s motor skills! Improving motor skills may make it easier to participate in group sports or PE in school.
Simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or colouring can help to calm down a child who is anxious or in a panicked state.
Anxiety in children with Dyspraxia has also been linked to diet. Digestion can be affected in Dyspraxia more so than in typically developing peers. Dieticians can run special tests to determine if your child has an intolerance to certain foods.
If your child experiences persistent mental health symptoms, you should not hesitate to seek the help of a Mental Health professional. Go to Childline.ie to find links and resources for professional help.