Supporting children with dyspraxia

Students happy to help

Two USW students are using their free time over the summer to support the Dyspraxia Foundation South East Wales group.

Gabrielle Jones, 22, a mum of one from Newport, and Georgia Gwillim, 20, from Chepstow, who both study Psychology with Developmental Disorders at the University of South Wales, are volunteering with the group. 

Gabrielle and Georgia got involved after being introduced to the group by their lecturer Dr Catherine Purcell.

Gabrielle, who returned to studying after becoming a mum and plans to become an occupational therapist when she graduates, explained why she got involved.

"I started volunteering because I really like to help people, we have so much fun and it's amazing seeing the children progress," she said.

"It's also been very beneficial for my studies, allowing me to put what I have learnt into practice. The experience will be useful for my future career, as I will be working with people of all ages who have a range of developmental difficulties."

Georgia, who started her psychology degree straight from studying for A-levels at Chepstow School, is also keen to gain and share experience while working with the support group.

“When I finish university I really want to work with children with special needs, and being able to offer my support and experience to the families in Newport was an ideal opportunity,” she said.

“It’s really great fun and has helped with my confidence, and it also helps you get a wider view of the general needs that children with dyspraxia have, and how you can support them.

“When I leave USW I want to go on to do a PGCE, and become a primary school teacher for children with special educational needs.”

Catherine added: “The children’s group could not run without the continued support and enthusiasm of our student volunteers.”

Case study

Julia Mathias-Jones says that the Dyspraxia Foundation South East Wales children’s group, has given her son, Thomas, six, amazing support since he first attended.

Julia noticed early on that Thomas’ development was not coming on as expected.

“When Thomas’s speech wasn’t developing, he was able to go to a speech therapist and get help,” Julia, who is married to Edward, explained.

However, his physical development plateaued and he had generalised joint hypermobility. This is quite a usual thing in many children, but it led to visual problems for Thomas and influenced his reading.”

I took Thomas along to the group, and he absolutely loved it from day one,” she said.

“I dropped off a non-speaking child… two hours later I collected a happy and noisy child who couldn’t wait to go back.”

And the reason for the change in Thomas was easy for Julia to explain.

“The people at the group just understand the children,” she said. “It’s amazing for him to have this support.

“Before he never wanted to join in or be part of other groups, but now he’s always asking when he can go again.

“The people there have never asked what he needs. They understand what his challenges are, and support him through everything.”