The social impact of a child suffering with dyspraxia is one of the major concerns for parents. It impacts the physiological, psychological and academic spheres of their lives. Therefore, providing a space where children can play and explore with like-minded peers in a positive environment is vital for their development. The Dysplay Programme for Children with Dyspraxia/DCD does exactly this. Along with social clubs, Easter and Summer camps held by Sugru throughout the year, the programme allows children to develop social skills as well as fine-motor, co-ordination and attention skills while building confidence. This can lead to minor or major social developmental milestones. As one of the parents stated, it was in one of these Sugru meetings that her child made his first real bond with a peer.
While parents attend the workshop, children are invited to participate in a range of activities from Mindfulness and Paint Reflection to Smart Moves (ball co-ordination) and Sand-play. The value of these activities lies in the fact that children are able to explore their own emotions and feelings about themselves in a safe environment. This can be achieved by making puppets of themselves, painting or through sand-play. They are able to learn to regulate and express emotions through mindfulness and art. They also interact in social games (Smart Moves) while working on co-ordination and attention skills. All the activities are child-centred, which means they have the opportunity to lead activities, with the itinerary acting solely as a guide. This allows the child a break from the daily rules they have to abide at school and gives them confidence to explore their own, usually unique and creative, ideas and feelings.
Additionally, children are afforded the opportunity to make new friends in this more intimate and supportive environment. As an observer, watching the children’s confidence grow in their interactions and play in a matter of hours was one of the best moments of the day. The sand-play activity was especially therapeutic as they enjoyed the freedom to explore all their senses, with some putting sand on their faces and others dipping their feet in the sand. It was after this play that children showed a deeper connection and awareness of the other’s presence and a willingness share in each other’s games. Children also felt more comfortable to ask questions and communicate with both facilitators and other children.
At the end of the day, although exhausted from the events, children happily presented what they had done in the form of a picture diary. As children left more emotionally regulated and parents left better informed, the effect of the workshop was bi-directional, thus working longer to improve both the lives of parents and children.
By Carla Engel
Intern at Sugru