Tuesday 12 April 2016

Motor planning skills reminder

Motor planning skills is one of things I never really thought about until I had kids diagnosed with autism. At first I didn't realise our eldest son's motor skills were anything different to other kids, then when I noticed, I thought it had something to do with his autism. Of course I discovered that his difficulties with motor planning skills is a comorbid condition than can have a diagnosis in itself, referred to as Dyspraxia.

Anthony had difficulty with a range of fine motor skills which are small movements like:
  • picking up a pencil 
  • doing up buttons or zips
And difficulty with gross motor skills which are larger movements like:
  • running, skipping
  • jumping with his feet together
  • using alternate feet to go down stairs.  

Anthony found all these things difficult and his pencil use is still terrible.

It was only when I had other kids that I spotted how they intuitively knew how to move their body to do things in a way that Anthony never really did, or possible still does.

I was pulling Anthony's little sister Jane along on Anthony's scooter this morning as we headed back to our home from school. I carefully pulled her along and she casually tapped her left foot along the floor, mimicking her older brother's movements.  I remember how we had to physically place Anthony's feet where they needed to go on his scooter when we first got it, and when had to hold and move his feet for him until he understood what his body needed to do to get the scooter moving.

Jane of course was oblivious to the effort Anthony had to put in.  She seamlessly switched feet and began to tap her right foot on the floor instead.  I said something like, "You might get confused my switching feet." as I have to really think about it when I switch feet on a scooter or skateboard.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I can only skateboard with my left foot forward on the board.  I have tried it the other way but my body doesn't seem to know what's doing and I had to think about what I was doing with the individual parts of my body. 

A bit like when I drive an automatic car in the USA. I know how to drive but it takes a while to think about the gear console being on the other side and I have to think about what I'm doing with my left foot because there isn't a clutch. Goodness knows the mess I make if I try to write with my left hand despite knowing the shapes of the letters etc. And then I thought.. maybe that's the feeling Anthony had all the time.  It must have been so mentally tiring for him every time he had to do something.  At times it had felt frustrating when he was holding up the family because putting on a pair of socks took 10 minutes.  But it must have been far more frustrating for him.

Of course, Jane was just fine and I don't think it will be too long before she is on a smaller scooter by herself. As she switched feet again I wondered if in fact she was comfortable with both, maybe she'll turn out to be ambidextrous like my brother? 

Our blog - Mess free motor skills fun activity
Our blog - Disastrous at decision making - comorbid conditions

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  1. This IS my son. If the referrals ever come through we ight one day find out if it is dyspraxia. He didn't walk until 19 months and now at 3., he can't grasp cutlery or pencils properly, climb stairs without a rail or hand, undress or dress himself at all. I don't know how extreme it has to be to be more than just autism - as I know some autistic people do struggle with general motor skills too. I guess we just have to wait it out. #SpectrumSunday

    1. There's some info here on it https://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/faqs/

      Our other autistic son has no problem at all with his motor skills abilities, it's his lack of interest in cycling or writing that's going to hold him back (as it currently stands).

      Crossing his midline and using both hands together were also difficult for Anthony too. I mentioned it a bit here in an activity you could look at if you like: http://rainbowsaretoobeautiful.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/dry-sensory-easter-bunny-craft-activity-autism-parenting.html?m=1

      Come on your referrals!!

  2. I have to admit I didn't know about Dyspraxia until I read this post. I hope Jane continues to love the scooter. #coolmumclub

  3. This was really interesting to read, Hayden has a hard time with some of his motor skills too. He cannot dress himself because it is just too much for him, he also can't hold a pencil or ride a scooter or bike. We will just keep persisting and remembering to stay patient in he process. Thank you for linking up to #spectrumsunday lovely, hope you join me again this week xx

  4. I can totally imagine how much of a challenge this must be when motor skills issues come into play - so interesting to read about this thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x


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