Bright Eyes Therapy
What is praxis?
Praxis is the ability to plan motor actions and to execute those actions in a coordinated way. Praxis is what enables us to DO.
According to Ayers (1985), Praxis in the physical world is what speech is in the social world. Both enable interaction and transactions in the environment. Both of these skills are learned, require the integration of sensory input and require planning that enables motor expression.
Praxis consists of three processes namely: the ability to form an idea (ideation), the ability to plan the course of action (planning) and the ability to execute (or do) the action (execution).
Why is Praxis important to us?
Praxis is the skill that enables us to brush teeth, eat with utensils, braid hair, write, learn to play a new sport, climb a jungle gym, play, dress ourselves, cut with scissors, kick a ball, ride a bicycle and so much more.
In order to DO (execute) any task (such as these listed above) we first need an idea of WHAT we want to do (ideation) and HOW we are going to do it (planning).
Praxis is necessary for us to interact with our environment in an adaptive manner.
How does a child with praxis difficulties present?
- New skills may be more difficult to learn (such as cutting with a knife, riding a bicycle, dressing etc).
- Prefer that their parents help them with tasks.
- Tends to be more of a follower during play (rather play what the other children are playing than thinking of their own game).
- Finds it tricky following instructions to complete motor tasks (such as an obstacle course).
- Appears as if they are jumping between ideas during play (as they have difficulty organising their game).
- Difficulty getting themselves ready on time.
- Eating only certain textured food (as each texture requires different motor plans).
- A child with praxis difficulties might continue playing only certain games or with certain toys, as new games or toys will require new motor plans.
How can I help my child develop his/ her praxis?
- Prompt your child to think of a plan. Use phrases such as: Mmm? I wonder if we can maybe use something to stand on to reach that toy?; What plan do you think we can make?; What should we do next?
- Break tasks into smaller pieces so that the task seems easier and more manageable for your child.
- Encourage them to first try a task by themselves before helping them. This stimulates their problem-solving and to first try and find solutions for the difficulty they are experiencing. This promotes your child’s independence. For example: instead of saying “Put your foot here to climb down” rather say “Where do you think you should put your foot?”
- Repeat instructions for tasks, as practice is required to master a new task.
- Incorporate as many senses to learn a new task as it provides multi-sensory feedback and thus facilitate the child to learn appropriate strategies to adapt to the physical demands of the task.
- Assist your child to first talk through the steps before executing the tasks (thus facilitating the planning aspect of praxis).
An occupational therapist can assist your child with praxis difficulties using a sensory integration approach. Therapy is fun, playful and addresses all aspects of Praxis (ideation, planning and execution).