What comes to mind when you hear the word “dyspraxia”? This is Dyspraxia Awareness Week – 10-16 October – so I thought I would explore dyspraxia in this blog, and see how music, nature and art might help.
While dyslexia is now a well-known term, focusing on issues with literacy (spelling, reading and writing), dyspraxia on the other hand is still far less familiar. And yet 5% of the poulation has dyspraxia.
Issues with co-ordination are central to dyspraxia: issues with what is called “gross” and “fine” motor co-ordination, from mobility to using a pen. Dyspraxia can also sometimes impact speech and/or organisation and time management. Degrees of severity vary.
Dyspraxia and dyslexia alike are related to autism and other forms of neurodiversity.
Running Medley, my online arts for wellbeing initiative, I’m always looking to learn what specific wellbeing impacts there could be for people with particular issues. I’m also committed to combining art, music and nature wherever possible, so I’m wondering here how all three areas might impact dyspraxia.
The theme of this year’s Dyspraxia Awareness Week is Get Moving With Dyspraxia, highlighting the need for physical activity to boost physical and mental health. Sometimes people with dyspraxia have negative experiences of physical activity, maybe from schooldays. They may be embarassed by their co-ordination issues, or fear injury. Fewer than a third of people who have dyspraxia take the recommended amount of exercise for adults, compared with 61% in the general population. So this is an important theme.
I wonder if music could help people with dyspraxia to “Get Moving”? Exercising to music can be enjoyable, motivating, natural and instinctive, as a song with a strong beat makes you want to dance, or clap, or stretch. People could do this at home, to get used to movement and dance away from prying or judgemental eyes. And music is so mood-boosting that it could make exercise a more positive and uplifting experience. Instead of overthinking exercising, you could focus more on your response to the music.
Connecting with nature too might encourage physical activity. Going for a walk in a park or in the countryside to see birds or trees could be a way to get outdoors and exercise while, again, taking the focus off the exercise itself. You’re enjoying time in the fresh air and watching nature – and getting active along the way, with no pressure. Nature can also be very calming, which might relax someone nervous about taking exercise.
Art may not help with physical activity, but could still be liberating and relaxxing for people with dyspraxia. It is all about experimenting. That’s the essence of creativity – no rules, no set limits. There are so many different possibilities to try that issues with fine motor co-ordination need be no barrier to many art forms.
Do you have experiences or thoughts and ideas to share? Do share these in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Or to learn more about Dyspraxia Awareness Week and resources, go to https://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/awareness-week/