“I type during exams, and when people ask me why I’m typing, I say ‘I’m dyspraxic’ and they will usually be like ‘Oh you mean dyslexic?’ and I’ll have to tell them ‘No it’s different’, Not a lot of people understand,” Sarahann Mooney, 15, Co Dublin.
The Dyspraxia Association of Ireland estimates that there is more than one child in every classroom with dyspraxia.
They describe it as difficulty with planning, thinking and motor coordination.
Dyspraxia is a commonly used term to describe these difficulties, and this falls under the umbrella term of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).
Problems with coordination can have a negative impact on an individual’s life-Children can have difficulty dressing themselves and teenagers may experience problems with organisation at school. Adults can struggle with driving or within the workplace.
And despite famous dyspraxics such as actor Daniel Radcliffe and Florence Welch of the band, Florence and the Machine, levels of awareness remain low and dyspraxia can often go undetected.
Dyspraxia in Ireland
Mark Daly, 42, from Dublin was told he has dyspraxia in 2005. He says that despite being educationally assessed, there was little awareness about dyspraxia during his school years.
“In the 1980s there was no Dyspraxia association, there was no awareness, and there was no help. The only person who supported me, at least after school anyway, was my mum.
“I wouldn’t have found out about dyspraxia had my mother not read an article in the Sunday Tribune. I was diagnosed after she died, two months after she passed away.”
Asked what advice he would give to someone with dyspraxia, Mark said: “I would just say-you’re not alone, There are people with dyspraxia who don’t know it,” he added.
Jasper Hampton, 45, living in West-Cork was also diagnosed as an adult.
“It was something I had to fish for, and pay for privately. It’s not something the doctors recognised and put me in the right direction of, it was quite difficult actually,” he said.
“My daughter was diagnosed so I was lucky enough to meet an occupational therapist and I said ‘Can you diagnose me?’
“It is very difficult for school teachers [to recognise], it’s known as the hidden disability because you can’t always see it,” he added.
“People with dyspraxia — it’s very varied. Hardly any two are the same. There’s a list of symptoms and one person might have five from the list, another person might have another five — so it’s very hard to speak in a common sense.
“Although people with dyspraxia might be different, they are probably some of the hardest working people out there when they’re on a roll.”
Fay Dunn, 23, remembers working extra hard on her schoolwork in secondary school, but this effort didn’t show in her results when she was sitting exams. “It was extremely frustrating because I was putting so much effort in and I could see that my friends could go home, do their homework and then be done. And I would be there working 20 times harder and not getting the results.
“I had one teacher who just didn’t get me or my dyspraxia at all. I was failing the subject all the time. Then I got a new teacher who worked with me and I ended up getting an A1 in my Leaving Cert, The potential with people with dyspraxia is there. It just needs to be brought out in a different way,” Fay added.
Frankie Farrell, 19, from Dublin loves football and has played all his life — his father is Dessie Farrell of the Gaelic Players Association. He recalls as a child, he experienced problems tying his shoelaces and he didn’t walk until he was three.
Frankie says that speaking to teachers is crucial to spread awareness about dyspraxia.
“Make them aware if there is a kid with these symptoms, it’s not a case of them being lazy or just not putting in the work, they are trying 20 times harder than the person who doesn’t have dyspraxia — give them credit, don’t be as tough on them.”
Margaret Duffy, from Limerick spoke about her eight-year-old son Pádraig’s experience.
Margaret advised that the assessment process for dyspraxia needs to be made clearer “because unless you know what you’re looking for, you don’t get it, When his teacher said to get him assessed we had no idea who to go to.”
Mary-Kate Mooney, 17, from Co Dublin is a fifth year student, who was identified as dyspraxic when she was 15. Her younger sister Sarahann, 15, found out she also has dyspraxia when she was 12.
Mary-Kate was inspired to blog about her experiences. “I just want people to know we’re all in it together. It’s not just them on their own” she said.
Developmental Coordination Disorder Ireland also offers support for conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia, ASD and Language Impairments if they overlap with movement difficulties. For more visit dcdireland.ie