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Are British Schools Ignorant of Dyspraxia?

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According to polls taken by teachers in English state schools, as reported by the BBC, schools are failing to be prepared to deal with any potential students with learning disabilities. This is something the Dyspraxia Foundation deemed concerning, and I can certainly agree with their worries.

Dyspraxia falls under many categories under the official U.K. definition of  “special educational needs,” especially those to do with communication and sensory needs. As a result of the Equality Act 2010, schools are required to make reasonable adjustments to help any students with a disability, however this is of no use to a child with undiagnosed dyspraxia. The NHS estimates about 3 percent of men and women in the U.K. have dyspraxia, and many of those are undiagnosed, meaning there are potentially many children requiring this assistance but who will never get it.

From a personal perspective, I have seen these problems in action. I was not diagnosed as a dyspraxic until I became 18, and now to most people it clearly explains a lot of issues I had growing up. I had a few troubles learning the English language. I needed some speech therapy. I had handwriting troubles. I was a “clumsy child.” However I was also a fairly academic and studious child, which meant nobody would even slightly suspect me of having a learning disability, which was what I was later diagnosed with. Assistance when I was younger could have at least made me feel like less of an oddity and perhaps allowed me to feel safer in the environments I eventually felt like an alien in.

I’d like to believe our education system is slowly getting better at spotting these difficulties, but I’ve yet to see much evidence of this. I had a friend who recently graduated from her degree in primary school education, and I approached her on this topic. I learned she only had a vague understanding of learning disabilities and hadn’t been taught on how to truly deal with them and spot them in her students. This makes me wonder how many educators are being sent out into our schools unprepared to truly teach our children effectively, through no fault of their own.

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Originally published: November 20, 2016
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