| Balance-remediation exercise-training
may help with some of the difficulties seen in dyspraxia but,
''There's really no evidence that improving co-ordination is
going to make it easier for you to learn to read. (Prof.
Bishop.The Dyslexia Myth ITV CH4 08/09/05) The exercises
below were given to home educator Claire Killips by a NHS physiotherapist,
to carry out with her daughter. She found them simple to follow,
beneficial and fun.
Exercises should be done for about 15 minutes a day - if you
are a home educator, think of them as one part of the 'physical
education' element of your home curriculum!
1. Balancing: standing on one
leg (start with stronger leg) and count how long your child
can balance for, keeping eyes open. Next, do the same on the
weaker side. Eventually your child should be able to do this
with eyes closed though not as easily. I sat on a chair and
S. stood in front of me focusing on my face which helps with
2. Hopping: again start with
the stronger leg and count how many hops your child can do.
When they eventually lose balance swap to the other leg. To
start with they will probably hop all over the place but eventually
they should be able to hop on the spot ie. within 2sq ft.
3. Using different size balls
from tennis to football, practice throwing/catching between
you and your child. Start with a short distance between you
gradually widening the gap. Aim to ensure your child watches
the travelling ball and they don't just stick their hands
out hoping the ball will land in them! Sounds obvious I know
but to some kids with these problems it needs explaining.
This aids judgement of distance and speed.
4. To begin with throwing/catching
should be directly to your child, moving onto throwing to
the left(L) and right(R) of your child (without telling them
where it's going) varying how far, so they have to judge how
far to move, in order to catch it.
5. Also practice doing the
above but with a wider gap between you and allowing the ball
to bounce once in the middle. Again start with direct throwing
but then moving onto L & R throws.
6. Now move onto single-handed
throwing/catching. Best to start with the more confident hand
ie. S is right-handed so that's her lead hand, with the other
hand behind your child's back. Remember you have to do this
too! Then swap. Follow above with direct throws then L &
7. As they become more confident
get them to practice bouncing a ball off the wall. I marked
out a square 3x3 bricks which she had to throw into. Eventually
I reduced this area down to a large X which she had to aim
8. Practice football skills.
Start with a little distance between you, gently kicking the
ball back and forth. Again start with the 'lead' leg but do
swap equally between both legs. Aim directly to begin with,
gradually kicking to L & R of your child and they should
do the same back to you (as with all the ball skills).
9. Last one! Using a football
to begin with as it's bigger, get them to practice bouncing
it with one hand. At first they might wander all over the
back yard doing this and that's fine but eventually they should
be able to do it on the spot. Again your child should practice
with each hand equally. Over time they can move to a tennis
ball. An adaptation of this is to practice bouncing the tennis
ball with some kind of bat or a tennis racket .
These exercises don't just aim to improve balance and co-ordination,
they also aid visual processing and tracking and teach skills
such as judging distance and speed, logic and sequencing -
they have to think where they are going to throw/kick/bounce
the ball and where the ball will end up. Some children will
pick this up quicker than others, some will find it very difficult.
S loved doing them even though she really struggled at times
and did them every day. The physiotherapist said that these
exercises should be done in conjunction with practising riding
her bike and skipping but it was just too much for S. We did
the exercises for 3 or 4 months before I attempted to see
if she could ride her bike or use the skipping rope. I think
it depends on the nature of your child and their determination
For information on exercise 'treatment' programmes such as
DORE (DDAT), 'Brain Gym' and INPP, go to Room