Glossary of Terms – Dyspraxia

Apraxia: the lack of praxis or motor planning. Interference with planning and executing an unfamiliar task.

Articulation: the production of vowels and consonants by the active and passive articulators in the mouth. The active articulators are the moving parts of the mouth (lips/tongue/soft palate) which can produce sounds, whilst the passive articulators are the non-moving parts of the mouth (hard palate, teeth) against which, in the production of many sounds, the active articulators come into contact.

Asymmetry: one side of the body is different from the other.

Auditory: pertaining to hearing.

Auditory discrimination: the ability to recognize differences in phoneme. This includes the ability to identify words and sounds that are similar and those that are different.

Auditory perceptual problems: difficulty in taking information through the sense of hearing and/or processing that information. The child may hear inaccurately.

Auditory sequential memory: the ability to hear a sequence of sounds or words or sentences and be able to hold them in the memory for sufficient time to be able to gain information from them, process that information and respond to it.

Balance: ability to stay in and regain a position such as standing and sitting.

Beery: a development test of visual motor integration.

Bilateral: refers to the ability to co-ordinate both sides of the body.

Bilateral integration: the ability to move both sides of the body in opposing patterns of movement, such as jumping sideways.

Body Awareness: the sensory knowledge of oneself moving through space.

Body image: the visual knowledge of oneself.

Body percept: a person’s perception of his own body, consisting of sensory pictures or ‘maps’ of the body stored in the brain. It may also be called the body scheme or body image.

Body scheme: the sensory knowledge of oneself.

Central programming: neural functions that are innate within the central nervous system; they do not have to be learned. Crawling on hands and knees and walking are good examples of centrally programmed actions.

Cerebral palsy: permanent, but not unchanging, disorder of posture and movement resulting from brain damage.

Cluttering: rapid and muddled speech.

Co-contraction: the simultaneous contraction of all the muscles around the joint to stabilize it.

Co-ordination: muscles working together to achieve smooth, efficient movements.

Development: process of growth of all body parts and functions, physical, emotional and intellectual.

Directional awareness: the ability to move in different directions such as forwards, backwards, and sideways.

Distractible: not able to concentrate.

Dominance: relates to the side the child uses to carry out activities that require just one side to be used, such as writing, kicking a ball, looking through a tube.

Dysarthria: the articulation of language leading to slurred speech.

Dyscalculia: a problem with mathematical concepts.

Dysgraphia: extremely poor handwriting or the inability to perform the motor movements required for handwriting.

Dyslexia: difficulty in reading or learning to read

Dyspraxia: poor praxis or motor planning, a less severe but more common dysfunction than apraxia.

Equilibrium: refers to body movements or shift in weight in order to regain/maintain balance.

Expressive language: communication by means of the spoken word. The ability to produce spoken language that is grammatically and syntactically sound and coherent in both content and sequence.

Extension: the action of straightening back, neck, arms or legs.

Eye-hand co-ordination: the ability of the eyes and hands to work together. It is needed for writing for example.

Fine motor: small movements requiring dexterity. Ex: picking up small objects in a pincer grasp, requiring use of a finger and thumb to work in a pinching movement. Without fine motor it is difficult to eat, dress, write, cut, and other activities requiring small motor level skills.

Finger agnosia: the ability to recognize which finger is being touched when vision is excluded.

Flexion: the act of bending or pulling in a part of the body.

Floppy: any or all parts of the body that feel very loose and can be moved in a greater range than you would expect.

Grapheme: individual letters of the alphabet

Gross motor: large movements allow us to balance, walk, run, throw and catch a ball.

Higher level language: the ability to process, integrate, interpret, and organize verbal and written language.

IEP: individual education plan for the child with special educational needs.

Kinaesthesia: the knowledge of where your body is in space.

Midline: this develops out of laterality. A child needs to have well-defined midline in order to devlop a sense of space around him and be able to orientate himself and his surroundings.

Midline crossing: the ability to cross one hand from one side of the body to the other, required for activities such as handwriting.

Minimal brain dysfunction: a mild or minimal neurological abnormality that causes learning difficulties in the child with near-average intelligence.

Minimal crossing: the ability of your hand to cross from one side of the body to the other.

Motivation: a desire to do something.

Motor planning: the ability of the brain to conceive and organize and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions – also known as praxis.

Occupational therapy: management of activities of daily living and educational skills.

Optometrist: tests people’s vision and prescribes glasses.

Oral peripheral examination: the passive and active oral structures are investigated to ascertain the existence of any abnormality. Their function is then determined to ascertain whether any breakdown in the accuracy/speed/sequencing co-ordination of movement could be contributing to decreased speech intelligibility and exacerbating feeding patterns.

Orthoptist: a paramedic who specializes in the movement of the eyes and children’s visual problems.

Pelvic stability: relates to the join laxity and the muscle strength of and around the hips.

Perception: the meaning that the brain gives to sensory input. Sensations are objective, perception is subjective.

Perceptual constancy: the ability to perceive an object as possessing certain properties such as shape, position and size in spite of the different ways it may be presented.

Phoneme: speech sound

Phonological awareness: the understanding that language is made up of individual sounds which are put together to form the words we write and speak. It is the ability to identify numbers of syllables and repeat multisyllabic words to detect or generate rhymes, to blend and segment words into their component syllables and sounds. These skills are important prerequisites for developing reading, writing and spelling.

Physiotherapy: management of the movement disorders.

Posture: a position from which a child starts moving, any movement when it stops.

Pragmatics: the social use of language.

Prone: the body position with the face and stomach downward.

Propioception: from the Latin word ‘one’s own.’ The sensations from the muscles and joints. Propioceptive input tells the brain when and how the joints are bending, extending or being pulled or compressed. This information enables the brain to know where each part of the body is and how it is moving.

Receptive language: the ability to understand language.

Reflexes: always exactly the same response to certain stimuli – for example, turning the head to the left causes extension of the limbs on that side, and flexion of the limbs on the other side.

Refractive error: the lens power required to produce a perfectly focused image on the retina.

Semantic: the meaning of words.

Sensory input: the stream of electrical impulses flowing from the sense receptors in the body to the spinal cord in the brain.

Sensory integration (SI): a process that describes the ability to organize sensory information for use.

Sequencing: the ability to master individual steps and activities and pass from one component part to the next in the correct order.

Shoulder stability: relates to the muscle strength and joint laxity of the shoulders.

Skill: the efficiency of carrying out a task.

Spatial awareness: the ability of the child to judge distances and direction of himself in relation to other objects.

Spatial orientation: knowledge of space and the distance between the self and objects in the environment.

Speech and language therapy: management of eating, drinking, speech and language and communication difficulties.

Stereognosis: the ability to perceive and understand the shape and size and texture of objects by the sense of touch alone.

Supine: horizontal position with face and stomach upward.

Symmetrical integration: the ability to move both sides of the body simultaneously in identical patterns of movement. A child should be able to jump forwards with both feet together 10 out of 10 times.

Tactile defensiveness: a sensory integrative dysfunction in which tactile sensations cause excessive emotional reactions, hyperactivity or other behavioral problems.

Tone: firmness of the muscles.

TVPS: a non motor test for visual perception.

Vestibular system: the sensory input that responds to the position of the head in relation to gravity and decelerated or accelerated movement.

Visual: pertaining to sight.

Visual closure: the ability to recognize and object when presented as an incomplete form.

Visual discrimination: the ability to discriminate similarities and differences in characteristics, arrangements, sequences or organization of visual stimuli.

Visual figure ground: the ability to differentiate stimulus from its background or the ability ot attend to one stimulus without being distracted by irrelevant visual stimulus.

Visual memory: the ability to recall characteristics of stimuli through vision only.

Visual motor integration: the integration of visual motor information which enables eye-hand co-ordination, that is required to carry out activities.

Visual perception: judging depth, visual closure, visual discrimination and visual figure ground – that is, difficulty processing information, seeing the difference between two objects, trouble seeing how far and near objects might be.

Visual spatial relationships: the ability to sense the relationship of objects with each other and yourself. Depth, length, position, direction and movement are all aspects of this sense.

Word finding difficulties: one has difficulty thinking of the word one wants to say quickly and accurately, even though one does know the word. These difficulties interrupt attempts at conversation and are frustrating for the speaker as well as the listener.

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