Praxis with the best of them

Praxis with the best of them

May 5, 2015 - 8:00 am

How many things can you do or make with a pipe cleaner?

Let's talk about praxis. In layman's terms, praxis means "think of something to do, figure out how to do it and then just do it!"

Sometimes, that is much harder than it sounds, isn't it?

The following is a test of praxis we commonly use for school-aged children or adults.  I learned it from OT Theresa May Benson.



How many different things can you do or make with a pipe cleaner using just the pipe cleaner and your body?

Next, count out all your ideas as you do them,

Your Score:

0-6: You might want to ask an occupational therapist for help with your skills.

6-12: Keep thinking and trying. Ask someone for help and ideas if you are still stuck. And maybe see an occupational therapist if you often have difficulty with new activities.

12 or more: you are a praxis star!

If you are stuck, here are some helpful hints from your friendly occupational therapists:

  1. Bend it

  2. Flip it

  3. Wrap it

  4. Twist it

  5. Hang it

  6. Scrunch it

  7. Shape it

  8. Throw it

  9. Twirl it

  10. Shake it

  11. Weave it

  12. Flick it

  13. Fold it over and over

  14. Drop it

  15. Straighten it

  16. How many more can you think of?

Fast Praxis Facts:

  • Don't worry: there is no association between praxis and IQ, within the normal range of IQ.

  • Praxis is not an end product, but how you do what you do.

  • Praxis involves purposeful actions. Think of it as motor activity with a goal in mind.

  • Develop praxis by reviewing what just happened... not asking what comes next. I still make this mistake every day.

  • Christel's five times rule: Build motor engrams. When doing something new with your child, you may see that when you repeat it, by the fourth time it starts to get hard and the skill starts to look poor again. This is because the feed-forward loop in your brain needs to be jump-started. You brain can't just use the quick access place where it stores temporary memory of motor skill.

Kids will try to quit here, when the brain gets stuck (adults too!). But please persist. By the fifth time it looks better... and the sixth time great. Do things at least five times. It helps your brain build and store motor engrams, the motor repertoire of the child, and a mental image of the action. That is what makes it easier the next time and the time after that.

Testing for praxis is one of the things occupational therapists do when helping children with motor skill challenges.

To help adults better understand how to help a child with motor skill challenges, I share my best strategies, solutions and tips in my eBook All About Motor Skills.  Parents, teachers, caregivers and other therapists can feel like they have my 20 years of experience guiding them when they help children and teens who may have dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder, children who may have a developmental disability, children who simply struggle with their motor skills or children who want to improve their motor skills.



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