For many parents of children that are neurodiverse, you may have heard the word “praxis” thrown around by your pediatric therapy team. But, what does praxis mean? Even more importantly, what does it look like?
Praxis is the “the ability to conceptualize, plan, and execute a non-habitual motor act” (Case-Smith & Clifford O’Brien, 2015, p. 272). Children that experience difficulty with conceptualization and execution of new or novel motor plans may be diagnosed with dyspraxia. Many children that are neurodiverse experience difficulty with sensory processing. Dyspraxia in relation to poor sensory processing, specifically tactile and proprioceptive input is called somatodyspraxia. Dyspraxia in relation to deficits in vision and visual perception is called visuodyspraxia. Other forms of praxis and dyspraxia include: praxis on verbal command, constructional praxis, postural praxis, oral praxis, and sequencing praxis.
Visuodyspraxia can happen in conjunction with somatodyspraxia. If your child has been diagnosed with or is suspected of having dyspraxia, you may see the following:
- Clumsy movements
- Awkward movements
- Poor sequencing
- Poor timing
- Poor precision
- Poor interaction with physical environment
- Difficulty with imitation
- Difficulty/frustration with new motor plans
- May prefer talking about rather than doing an activity
In addition, children with dyspraxia often have difficulty with ideation. Ideation is the ability to “generate ideas of what to do in a novel situation” (Case-Smith & Clifford O’Brien, 2015, p. 272). Children that experience difficulty with ideation may demonstrate poor initiation or independent play with new toys or play schemas. This may present as the following:
- Simple repetitive actions
- Lack of direction or goal when playing
- Observing and imitating other children when playing
- Prompt dependent or needing clear directions
- Difficulty thinking of new play schemes
Dyspraxia and poor ideation may impact your child’s ability to complete self-care routines as well as participate in play and leisure activities. Evidence-based treatments that have proven to improve dyspraxia include sensory integration, sensorimotor, and visual-motor interventions. These interventions are designed to target sensory processing, body awareness, body mapping, visual perception, visual construction, and vestibular-postural-bilateral integration. Specific programs to target these skills include:
- Therapeutic Listening
- Astronaut Training
- Interactive Metronome
If you suspect your child has somatodyspraxia, visuodyspraxia, or poor ideation talk to your physician or pediatric therapy team. They may provide educational materials and activities to improve motor planning at home and in-school!
Case-Smith, J. & Clifford O’Brien, J. (2015). Sensory Integration. In Parham, L. D. &
Mailloux, Z. (Eds)., Occupational Therapy for Children and Adolescents (p. 272). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.