Learning difficulties

7th October 2005 at 01:00
CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL CO-ORDINATION DISORDER. Edited by David A Sugden and Mary Chambers. Whurr. pound;27.50

This collection of academic papers presents new terminology introduced by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to replace such terms as clumsy and dyspraxia. Clumsy we are well rid of as it implies stupidity. I have been clumsy all my life, and the term is frequently followed by idiot. Dyspraxia is not pejorative, but neither is it widely understood.

Developmental co-ordination disorder is defined as a serious impairment in motor co-ordination, not related primarily to some other cause. This is a detailed investigation of the field, with evidence on teaching techniques and snippets from case studies that provide glimpses of the human suffering behind the terminology.

The case studies, though, do not include the practical detail on teaching and learning that would show teachers how best to help. Examples of sheer folly - such as making a child assessed as dyspraxic stand on a chair to recite tables, then entering him for a skipping race at sports day - are not followed by advice to parents on what to do about them. The book does, though, include several references to the website, www.dyscoverycentre.co.uk, which offers a wide range of practical information, and is probably the best starting point for parents and teachers.

John Bald

Literacy consultant

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