Over the years, dyspraxia has been given several names. Clumsy child syndrome, developmental coordination disorder, minimal cerebral dysfunction.. .call it what you will, dyspraxia is a very real problem to many people, children and adults alike. Dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder is likely to affect many people with autism. It is debatable as to whether dyspraxia is an autistic spectrum disorder in itselfor whether it is a co-morbid condition that accompanies another spectrum colour but one thing is for sure...there is no 'only' about dyspraxia!
As with the other 'differences' in the Jackson family, I have given the criteria for developmental coordination disorder or dyspraxia in the Appendix. Diagnosis, I suspect, depends on the area in which you live and the skill of the occupational therapist and paediatricians involved. Rather than give a checklist of the symptoms of dyspraxia I am going to give a brief example of how, with four boys with various coordination problems, dyspraxia plays a major part in the Jackson family dynamics.
Whilst I rush about after Ben and Joe and attempt to assume the roles of head cook, cleaner, chauffeur, nurse and teacher (and many more) the teenagers all slouch around in their usual positions, girls in one room watching television, Luke and Ben in the other room on the computer and PlayStation and Joe rushing from room to room in a whirlwind of noise and havoc. Apart from shouts to Joe to be quiet, little or no noise can be heard.. .until Matthew comes in! On entering a room, Matthew, the 'adult' of the house, can create chaos of gigantic proportions within thirty seconds. "Hi ugly," he mumbles as he walks past Rachel. "What did you just call me?" asks Rachel, her highly polished talons at the ready. Anna, as always, is quick to step in and clarify. "He said 'Hi ugly'," she giggles. With one swift move, Rachel leaps up and punches Matthew in a semi playful bid for revenge. Matthew, however, a spidery mass of dyspraxic arms and legs, lurches forward to retaliate and stands on Sarah's foot, knocking a table lamp over at the same time. Sarah, far more like Luke than Rachel and Anna, loathes her personal space being invaded and so hunches herselfup in the corner of the couch muttering a few choice words and nursing her foot. Oblivious to the ructions, Luke suddenly barges into the room chattering excitedly about a miraculous change that some piece of coding had made to his website. Unable to read facial expressions enough to perceive Sarah's foul mood, poor Luke, also unable to judge his own body space, sits down far too close to Sarah and for reasons unbeknown to him, receives a hefty punch in his leg! As he howls and jumps up cursing, he and Ben, as clumsy as each other, stumble into each other and Ben bumps onto the floor, screaming in shock. On hearing Ben's wailing, Joe, fiercely protective of his brother, comes dashing to the rescue, shouting that poor Luke is 'well tight' whilst making Ben scream even louder as he tries in his own awkward way to pick him up...as I have said, there is certainly no 'only' about dyspraxia!
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Autism is a developmental disorder that manifests itself in early childhood and affects the functioning of the brain, primarily in the areas of social interaction and communication. Children with autism look like other children but do not play or behave like other children. They must struggle daily to cope and connect with the world around them.