Balance Equipment – The Importance of Balance with Dyspraxia and Dyslexia
Dyspraxia and Dyslexia may seem like two very different conditions, one being predominantly (though not exclusively) associated with fine and gross motor skills, the other with the ability to read, write and spell words, however there is in fact a lot of overlap between the signs and symptoms, or characteristics, of both.
Dyslexia refers to a problems with languages and can refer to reading, writing and or spelling. Another connected feature is a marked discrepancy between intellect and specific skills such as information-processing abilities, literacy, organisation and short term memory.
Dyspraxia is a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD), and is a lifelong condition that affects fine and or gross motor skills. So basic skills such as the ability to jump, skip, ride a bike or specific finger movements used for activities such as tying your shoelaces, can be quite challenging. Because of this both children and adults who live with dyspraxia often find it difficult performing everyday tasks such as grooming, house chores, and even driving.
Both dyspraxia and dyslexia are both examples of SpLD, ‘Specific Learning Difficulties’. There is no one type of either disorders, nor is there set characteristics that must be present. Both have a wide spectrum or cluster of characteristics, many of which overlap and it is not uncommon for someone to be diagnosed with both conditions.
In a normal brain the left and right hemispheres interact and communicate together effectively. The left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body and is responsible for words, numbers, logic, analysis, linearity, lists and sequence. The right hemisphere of the brain controls the left side of the body and is responsible for creativity, imagination, rhythm, colour, holistic awareness and dimension.
In people with both dyslexia and/or dyspraxia, the right hemisphere of the brain is considered to be dominant. Both dyspraxia and dyslexia have also both been linked to problems with the proprioceptive system and an underdeveloped, or impairment of the vestibular system. Both these play an important role in balance and coordination as well as visual and auditory processing.
Another interesting fact that connects both dyspraxia and dyslexia is that core strength and balance seem to play an important role. Teachers and occupational therapists world wide have been using different types of balancing equipment as forms of sensory integration to help develop gross motor and cognitive skills in both children and adults alike. The use of balancing boards and rocker boards have been shown to not only help develop core strength, flexibility and balance but also work to expand the neural networks that enable communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Which means that improving core strength and balance also helps to improve hand eye coordination, thus making it an effective tool to be used for people with both dyspraxia and dyslexia.
Equipment such as the 66fit Multi Function Step Board is an excellent example of the type of equipment that can be used, because it has a non slip surface and can be adjusted to work both as a balancing board and a rocker board.