In 2019 my son was diagnosed with mild Dyspraxia. I didn’t really have any idea what that actually meant or what I could do about it as his father – so I Googled it.
What is Dyspraxia?
Look on Google and it will tell you that it is “a developmental disorder of the brain in childhood causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement”. It is what was once called clumsy child syndrome. In simple terms the child has a much harder time coordinating themselves. Things like doing up buttons, tying shoelaces or throwing a ball can be a lot harder. This can leave the child feeling frustrated and can lead to anxiety or depression so identifying it and treating it can be important.
How can Toys help with Dyspraxia?
The first thing I would say is if you have concerns go to the doctors. The very foundation of getting help is to get a diagnosis. Once you do you can begin work with an occupational therapist on helping the child with Dyspraxia. We were fortunate in many ways. We got the help through my sons school and was diagnosed at 5 years of age. At that point I made it my mission to look into ways to help him. In many ways the best thing you can do as a parent is to give them extra attention. They can achieve anything any child can achieve it will just take more effort.
My sons diagnosis and my attempts to find a way to help him is what led to this website. I began to see that even for no Dyspraxia children toys and play are vital for their development. So I started this site to help advise parents on what toys are best to help their children – Even if they are not Dyspraxic.
On this page though I want to spend a little time focusing on a few of the toys and games my son has found extremely useful in helping him to progress. You will be amazed at how cheap and simple many of them are.
Encouraging your Child
Before I begin I would like to make one point. No matter how coordinated your child is, no matter how smart they are encouragement and finding things they enjoy is always going to be the key to success. If a child has fun they will want to keep doing it. If they hate something they won’t. Just like you and me.
I found with my son his willingness to do things is the biggest issue. I believe this is because he finds things tough. It is important then to find things he enjoys and then when you do encourage it. Celebrate all their successes.
Toys to Help Fine Motor Skills
Mosaic Building Blocks
One of the best toys you can get for fine motor skills has to be a Mosaic Building Set. This is where you place tiny blocks into holes to form a picture. While this may seem simple to a child with Dyspraxia is can be challenge. Of course with every challenge come a gain and this will really help fine motor skills.
If you are looking to invest like many of my other recommendations this is really affordable. I would recommend Upworld 296 pcs Mushroom Nails Pegboard Educational Colourful Jigsaw Puzzle Building Blocks Bricks (wow what a long name) from Amazon. It is available for around £10 which should make it affordable for all.
One of the simplest and most affordable of all the toys that help fine motor skills is Play-Doh. When my son first started at school they used play-doh to help all the children to build muscle strength and coordination in their hands. In fact they used to do a little finger and hand dance to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling. The kids loved it.
The ideas is that just the simple manipulation of the play-doh helps them to get their fingers moving. The more they do it the better they get. While some kids can do this throughout reception year at school Dyspraxic kids will need to keep going into year one and maybe beyond.
My son still uses play-doh to this day and he is almost six and will be starting year two soon. He is improving greatly in cutting and rolling which is great to see. If you are interested in getting some for your child i’d recommend the Hasbro A4897E25 Play-Doh Super Colour pack (as seen in the picture). It is available from Amazon for around £13. There is no need to spend any more than that on Play-Doh.
Learn to Dress Boards
The last of my three recommendations is the Learn to Dress Boards which are colourful boards that allow your child to practice things like tying laces, doing up buttons and working a zip. This again works the bodies fine motor skills. It takes every kid a bit of time to master their shoe laces but for a Dyspraxic child it can be a major challenge. This kit will help in a major way.
I recommend the 6 in 1 Early Learning Toy Preschool Dressing Learning Boards available from Amazon which is all your child will need. It is available for about £12.
Toys to Help Gross Motor Skills
Balance bikes are a great idea for improving their leg movements because it is the legs that keep them upright until they can balance. I have written a whole guide to balance bikes if you want to know more about them.
For the purposes of this article know that if you are looking to get their legs stronger and more in control in a safe way then a balance bike is a superb option. It will give them a sense of freedom and accomplishment which will keep them progressing.
One of the most effective things you can do to help a child with Dyspraxia is give them a football. Children seem to love chasing a ball around which is perfect. I’ve said it countless times but when you find something that is both helpful to them and fun embrace it and encourage it as much as possible.
My son loves kicking the ball around. I see him do it in the playground before school. Sadly he is off the pace and slower to respond than others. The result is he doesn’t actually get to kick the ball as much as the other kids but he enjoys the run around. Giving him a ball that is just for him gives him the practise he doesn’t get in the playground. This allows him to work on improving while having fun. What is even better is that a football is again very cheap.
I recommend the Mitre Impel Training Football which is perfect for a simple kick around. It is bright which will help your child and it is affordable at around £10.
Of all that I recommend here the trampoline is probably the toughest but it is also one of the most fun. A trampoline will test any child with Dyspraxia or co-ordination issues but it is also a great teacher. Nobody says a child needs to be jumping up and down like an Olympic Gold Medallist after 5 minutes. They just need to enjoy it enough to keep going.
Balance is important in life in many ways. Physical balance is without a doubt one of the most important. If you can learn to control yourself on a trampoline suddenly walking and running will be child’s play.