Book review: 100 Ideas for Supporting Pupils with Dyspraxia and DCD by Amanda Kirby

100 Ideas for Supporting Pupils with Dyspraxia and DCD by Amanda Kirby and Lynne Peters. Reviewed by Dr Francesca Fotheringham

Date published: 2007 (reprinted in 2009 & 2010)

Paperback price: £13.29

Link to book on Amazon

Reviewer: Dr Francesca Fotheringham, Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Reviewer expertise: Child emotional development, neurodiversity, neurodivergent adolescents

What is the book about and who is the book aimed at?

This book is an easy to digest reference book for teachers or education staff who work with pupils/students with dyspraxia or Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD).

A brief description of the content of the book

This book contains 100 ideas to help teachers and education staff plan and create activities, which will help their pupils/students with dyspraxia/DCD. This may at first seem like an overwhelming number of ideas, but the book is smaller than A5, and contains approximately one activity per page. This can make the small 118 page book feel manageable for busy practitioners. The book is organised by age group so you will find something to help you in the classroom at every school stage. Each page has a well explained activity to help students with dyspraxia/DCD along with a short explanation of the aims of the activity and how it may help with particular difficulties you may recognise within your pupils/students. This can help build a better understanding about dyspraxia/DCD for those who are new to working with students with this neurodivergent condition.

Some of the activities are best suited for the whole class, some small groups, and some are individual activities. Therefore, this book provides a wide range of ideas that could be integrated into a classroom or lesson plan today.

Is the content in line with best practice/research evidence?

This book does not reference any academic literature, which can make it more digestible to the lay reader. However it also doesn’t demonstrate that the ideas being suggested are embedded in, or come from, research. Having said this, on the whole the suggested ideas align with current understanding of dyslexia and DCD, and tend to support the idea of providing tools to the pupil/student to empower them.

However, something to take into consideration is that this book was published in 2007. Our research understanding of dyspraxia/DCD has developed a lot since then. Additionally, education common practices have also changed since 2007. An example of where this is evident is within the activity outline (particularly in the sections for secondary students) - the authors have not included steps or ideas on including the student in some of the decision making and goal setting for the aim of a particular activity. It is written from the perspective of the teacher/educator making the decisions and then implementing them into the classroom without having this discussion with the student. This not only is best practice, but is also commonplace in many secondary schools.

Would the book be helpful to its target reader? If so, how? Would it be helpful to anyone else?

I feel it would be helpful for a teacher or educator looking for quick fire ideas and a place to start for how to implement some ideas into their lesson plans to help their students with dyspraxia/DCD. It is unlikely that any one teacher will need to read the whole book, as it is divided into the different ages/school stages and a teacher can simply flick through to the pages relevant to their teaching age. The contents page is also easy to use as the activity titles often describe the aspect that the activity is intended to help with.

This book may also be useful for parents who are home-educating, or wanting to do some extra learning at home, as the ideas suggested are short and easily digestible.

What is your final, overall opinion of the book?

I feel this book is structured in a good and digestible way that could become a useful reference book within the staffroom for teachers to quickly flick through for ideas. This is because each activity is roughly a page long; the contents page is divided into school stages and the activity titles give a good indication of whether it will be relevant to your particular pupil/student. However, I believe this book should only be a starting point for ideas and they should be discussed with the student along with their own learning goals.

Additionally, personally, I found some of the language used a bit stark, such as the way the authors referred to “the child”. This can make it feel like there is a separation between adults and pupils/students, giving further into the stereotype that it is up to the adults to make all the decisions for them. However, I appreciate that this language is likely to be due to trying to keep the activity descriptions short and to a single page – which I think is one of its strengths.

Overall, I think this book is a good starting point, but should be taken with caution and with the understanding that it was published in 2007.