As you may well be aware, Dyspraxia can affect one in many different ways; one such way that we already covered in a previous article was Verbal Dyspraxia. Yet this isn’t the only variant for Dyspraxia for another type of Dyspraxia one can have is Constructional Dyspraxia.
So what exactly is Constructional Dyspraxia? And how does it affect children and adults who have this variation of Dyspraxia? Well in this article we are going to answer these questions. Yet before I do, I would just like to add that like most Dyspraxic individuals out there, the chances are that your Dyspraxia will contain elements of each of the different types of Dyspraxia, which currently are;
- Verbal (oromotor) dyspraxia
- Constructional dyspraxia — this is to do with spatial relationships.
- Ideational dyspraxia — affects the ability to perform coordinated movements in a sequence.
- Ideomotor dyspraxia — affects organising single-step tasks
That said, lets delve further into Constructional Dyspraxia to see if this type of Dyspraxia happens to be in yourself (or a loved one).
What Is Constructional Dyspraxia?
Individuals with this variant of Dyspraxia tend to struggle with spatial relationships. In other words they have issues with seeing how objects and people move in relation to one another.
Children who have Constructional Dyspraxia will have difficulties with undertaking tasks like drawing geometric shapes or using building blocks. Oftentimes they will also have trouble following something with their eyes without moving their heads as well.
Thinking back to when I was a child, the arranging of blocks by colours and shapes, plus eye tracking movement was something that happened to me a lot. I say this because I was first diagnosed at the age of 5 for Dyspraxia.
As such I visited many speech therapists and physiotherapists. Anyhow throughout some of the many visits I had, I recall doing the said exercises. One of them was that the therapist would move their finger across my field of vision: and I was to follow it without moving my head. The other one was putting blocks together by either shape or colour.
Looking back it is only now that I see how they were looking for traits of Constructional Dyspraxia. Who knows maybe they found it but I can’t recall it.
If you suffer from Constructional Dyspraxia then you will face issues with following instructions and sequences. For example an adult with Constructional Dyspraxia can struggle with putting together some flat pack furniture, even if they have all the instructions with them.
The reason for having issues with following a sequence of instructions, etc to complete a particular task is due to the relationship between each step. So in the case of putting together some flat pack furniture (or anything else for that matter, be it following a recipe, putting some bricks together, etc) as adults we would struggle.
Constructional Dyspraxia can make coping in life very difficult (of course depending on the severity of it) as a lot of the things that we do in life require us to follow an often long sequence of events. For instance if a friend asks you to get the 65 Bus down to the shop, get x load of items, then the 23 Bus to a mates house, pick up something and bring it over to them by getting an Uber.
Even without Constructional Dyspraxia, remembering such a sequence to memory can be quite a difficult task. Yet in some cases, even writing it out in the form of a to-do list can be extremely difficult. Especially if one was to have severe Constructional Dyspraxia…
What Can I Do To Overcome My Constructional Dyspraxia
So if your Dyspraxia happens to have variations of Constructional Dyspraxia, then what can you do? Well if you have read my other article 'Verbal Dyspraxia: A Living Hell' you may recall how I managed to improve my Verbal Dyspraxia overtime by improving one part of my speech at a time till the improvement became second nature.
So taking this approach to improving the elements of Constructional Dyspraxia, I would suggest you do some exercises that can aid in the improvement of your Constructional Dyspraxia. For instance, purchase some jigsaw puzzles and try to put them together. Else do some paper based puzzles which require pattern recognition, like Sudoku puzzles.
When it comes to how complex a puzzle you should choose would be determined by how severe your Dyspraxia in this area is. Ideally you'd pick a puzzle which is not so easy that you can do it in 5 seconds flat. Nor would you pick a puzzle that is so complicated that it would take hundreds of attempts to complete. Instead you'd pick a puzzle which is reasonably challenging but doable.
As with Verbal Dyspraxia, our brains are very good at rewiring themselves over time. This is why we are able to develop new habits. As such when you undertake pattern recognition puzzles (and take on harder ones as time goes by) you will be improving your ability to spot pattern recognition.
Whilst you may never develop the world's best pattern recognition or spatial awareness skills, by doing exercises like these you will be improving your spatial awareness. This is similar to the way that I was able to improve my Verbal Dyspraxia. And I will be the first to admit that I will never be the best orator in the world! Yet at least people can understand me when I speak: compared to when I was a child. So by practising this skill, you will improve your ability to see the relationship between objects and people and how they move around each other.
This however is a long term strategy to improve your Constructional abilities. If heaven forbids tomorrow you have some flat pack furniture delivered to your door with an instruction set on how to put it together (something many with Constructional Dyspraxia) would struggle with, what can you do?
Well I would recommend you break the instruction set into small steps and try to focus only on the immediate step ahead of you. So if step one is something like 'take out the base of the chair and turn it upside down' you literally focus on doing just that. Try not to think beyond each step.
Also on finishing one step and before you start the next, take the time to think carefully about the next step and what exactly this instruction step is asking. By doing so, you will be reducing the chances of making any mistakes.
It should also be mentioned that by focusing on each step and trying to mentally conceptualise what you got to do next, you will be rewiring your Brain overtime to get better with pattern recognition and spatial awareness. These are two things which affect Constructional Dyspraxia.
Yet the most important thing of all is to not be too hard on yourself, no matter what you are doing (such as in the case of the earlier example, erecting flat pack furniture). You wouldn't be angry at a person who is on crutches for not getting down the stairs fast enough? Well nor should you be angry at yourself for not being able to do something as well as a person who doesn't have Constructional Dyspraxia!
Anyhow if you like to know more about Dyspraxia, including the strengths of having Dyspraxia, I recommend you read my book ‘Dyspraxia: How To Thrive As An Adult’ by Alex Gadd. You can find that by clicking here.
Else if you would like to be in a group of fellow Dyspraxics and find more information on this disability, then why not join the Dyspraxia Support Group on Facebook.