dyspraxia

Schools Urged to Address “Significant Gap” In Dyspraxia Diagnosis in Young Girls

Schools are being urged to address a “significant gap” in the diagnosis of dyspraxia among girls after a survey found they are at risk of “slipping through the net.”

Findings published by the Dyspraxia Foundation have revealed that more than half of young girls have the disorder and said their teachers were unaware of this. The condition causes difficulties in movement and co-ordination.

Early diagnosis is crucial to sufferers get the support they need to develop fundamental movement skills for activities such as writing, using cutlery and getting dressed.

“Traits are being overlooked in children because they are girls and we are not sensitive and alert to that, as we used not to be with boys…”

There were 1156 respondents to the survey. 619 of those were parents of children with dyspraxia. The survey found that the ratio of boys to girls being diagnosed with the condition is 3:1.Current evidence suggests that the male to female diagnosis ratio is actually 2:1.

Experts from the foundation – which is the only national charity in the UK dedicated to generating awareness about the condition – believe the findings indicate most teachers believe the condition to be mainly a male disorder.

Sally Payne, a paediatric occupational therapist and trustee of the Dyspraxia Foundation told schoolsweek.co.uk, “This survey really has underlined a pattern we’ve observed for some time and whilst the results do reinforce a concerning trend of many girls sliding under the radar of relevant healthcare professionals, it allows us to push on with plans for developing specific materials, tools and resources for girls and adolescents as well as for their parents and teachers.”

The gender gap is something that The Dyspraxia Foundation will focus on during its 2015 awareness week in October. Thanks to a recent Big Lottery Fund grant of £166,265 the charity will also relaunch its helpline, employ a dedicated youth information officer and begin producing an information pack for girls.

“Earlier diagnosis would help, but how are teachers going to get the time to teach when they’re being told … they have to also identify children with mental health and invisible disabilities?”

The founder of SEN website, Special Needs Jungle, Tania Tirraora told schoolsweek.co.uk that the findings show why girls with the condition go unnoticed for longer.

“Earlier diagnosis would help, but how are teachers going to get the time to teach when they’re being told … they have to also identify children with mental health and invisible disabilities?”

Jason Page, managing director of the company behind Calder House, a co-educational day-school for children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and language difficulties said, “Traits are being overlooked in children because they are girls and we are not sensitive and alert to that, as we used not to be with boys. We’re not looking as hard as we should.

“The solution is to look at every child as an individual, not lumped together as boys or girls. If all schools had a better understanding of how each child learns then you can be much more specific about how you are going to teach them.”

What do you think schools should do to close the gap between girls and boys with dyspraxia? Share your thoughts with us on social media!

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