Praxis is the complex process of planning and completing a new or different activity. This includes conceiving a plan (ideation), planning and organizing the idea out, executing that plan, and adjusting it as needed based on the feedback we received. When a child has a disruption in any of these steps, it can be very stressful to complete activities.
Some children may freeze when presented with a new motor plan, and demonstrate a stress response, causing them to shut down, blank out, or wander from the activity. Other children may flee, running from the activity and maybe seeking input by crashing into walls or people around them. Older children may express “I don’t know how to do that,” and become upset or worried, needing support.
An Occupational Therapist can evaluate your child and help them overcome praxis difficulties. Continue to monitor what is challenging for your child, even if the task seems easy or intuitive. Even “keep a calm body” might be too unclear for a child with praxis difficulties.
There are also many fun activities you can complete at home. Working with familiar objects in new or unfamiliar ways is a great way to build creativity and flexibility. For example, how can you eat your food if you are not given a fork? Imitation games, such as Simon Says, Follow the Leader, and guided dances are also great ways to build more efficient motor planning.
For older and school-aged children, creating a board game based on rules and expectations of existing preferred games is a way to integrate handwriting, bilateral coordination, and praxis skills. In addition, word finding games, such as the “category game”, Scattergories, or Taboo also target praxis.