Dyspraxia awareness through mother’s eyes

Alison Doherty’s son Ryan was diagnosed with dyspraxia by a neurologist.

THE mother of an Inishowen boy diagnosed with a developmental disorder has started a new support group.

SEÁN P. FEENY

Alison Doherty’s son Ryan was diagnosed with dyspraxia by a neurologist at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin on October 3, 2017 at the age of six.

Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), is a developmental disorder of the brain in childhood causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement.

Alison first became concerned when they noticed that Ryan was noticeably ‘very clumsy’ and also dragged his leg while running.

She said: “After he was diagnosed, the problem was that the awareness of the confition was not there and therefore I decided to set up the Donegal Dyspraxia Support Group as a comfort for people and to refer for advice.”

Dyspraxia is a common condition, affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults, is formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke. The range of intellectual ability is in line with the general population.

Symptoms

Alison said dyspraxia can have a number of symptoms that you can look out for in your child such as poor balance and a poor sense of direction.

She said: “Your child may also be slow in dressing themselves or eating and sometimes a have difficulty speaking, reading and writing.”

Speaking from her own experience, Ryan, who turns eight this December, was ‘immature from a behavioural perspective’.

“At the same time, Ryan is a very intelligent, loving and kind innocent young boy who tells his mother every day that she’s the cutest mammy ever.”

Ryan is getting on very well and has improved greatly thanks to an early intervention. “He works with an occupational therapist, physio and sometimes a psychologist. A multidisciplinary team is vital for children with dyspraxia to assist them in reaching their full potential,” she said.

Alison said people ask her why she has set up the group. “This is a path that Ryan has led me on. There’s a stigma attached to this condition and people can be very dismissive about it, saying it will leave them [the children.

“But this is a lifelong condition and what I want to do with this support group is inform people in general from a personal perspective.”

Alison said she would have been lost without the assistance of Harry Conway, CEO of Dyspraxia Ireland, and Fay Dunn: “We would be lost without their help and support and Donegal would be forgotten about.”

Meeting

The Donegal Dyspraxia Support Group will hold a meeting in Letterkenny Community Centre on Wednesday, September 26, from 7 to 9pm.

Guest speakers will be Play Therapist Deirdre Ward, Relax Kids Coach Rachel Harvey and an occupational therapist with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

All welcome, tea and coffee will be provided. A donation of €5 to the support group would be very much appreciated on the night.