8:00 am, Thursday, 14th October 2021

Parent perspective- dyspraxia

This week is Dyspraxia Awareness Week.

Abi Fleming is our SEND Parent Engagement Champion who hosts our coffee mornings, plans events, and is passionate about helping parents and carers and making a difference.

She is also the proud mum of two children and has first hand experience of SEND with her son, Joe, who is nine and has dyspraxia.

Both Abi and Joe have shared their story. Read about the challenges and triumphs along their journey.

Abi said: “My son was diagnosed with Dyspraxia at 9 years old.

“He struggled with co-ordination from early childhood but due to having hearing difficulties there was always a reason why he had poor balance, or giving instructions was difficult for him.

“I constantly spoke to the teachers about my concerns.

“Due to his medical history and being a summer born child who might still be maturing, it wasn’t taken further.

“He went into Year 5 and was discharged from Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) that September.

“By December his teacher explained he wasn’t achieving academically what he thought he could.

“His constant moving in his chair or being given multiple instructions at once was proving very difficult.

“My son noticed differences with what his peers were able to do.

“For example, in sports, and in particular football which made him feel different and he would constantly compare himself to others.

“One of his traits is lack of spatial awareness and this would be viewed as him being rude by invading people’s personal space or taking too much room on a table.

“He began to lose confidence in his abilities, and it knocked his self-esteem and as a family this was a very difficult time.

“After the discussion with the teacher, I went home that night and researched everything I could find.

“I read more about Dyspraxia and all the traits it has.

“It was like a tick box and many of the words described my son.

“I spoke with him and explained that I thought he had dyspraxia.

“He read about the condition and said: “This sounds like me Mum”.

“He spoke very confidently to the Doctor and told her what he struggles with and no matter how much he’d been practicing with his handwriting or football it just never improved.

“He was seen by a paediatrician.

“Watching him try to complete some of the tasks and fail was heart breaking.

“I felt a huge amount of guilt thinking that my son had struggled for so long and that we had made adaptions without realising it which may have prevented him from being diagnosed earlier.

“I wished that it had been noticed that he had been struggling sooner.

“But the hardest feelings to deal with were towards myself as his mum, and the feeling that I had let him down.

Abi added: “My son reacted to his diagnosis really well because he now had the reason to explain so many of his questions.

“He thrived in all areas from then on.

“He had his Occupational Therapy sessions to improve his coordination.

“He would come home and practice what he had been taught and through sheer determination he made huge leaps forward.

“His confidence and self-esteem have improved but this is an area he continues to work on.

“I remember very clearly the feeling when I picked him up from school and approached the teachers to ask how he had been getting on.

“I wanted to know what they were putting in place to assist him.

“I knew what he needed, and what he was entitled to, but I wanted it to happen a lot more quickly than it did.

“Looking back, perhaps wasn’t that long but when it’s your child you want things to be put in place immediately.

“I involved SENDIASS and asked them to support me in meetings.

“They made some suggestions in school to help, but I found their support very useful and something I would encourage all parents to do.

“I lived and breathed Dyspraxia for a period, in fact it probably consumed me.

“Once changes started to happen, I began to feel more relaxed and accepted that Dyspraxia is a part of him but doesn’t define him.

“I’m very proud of him and all of his achievements but most importantly he is a kind, caring and accepting young man who is always trying something new.

“When he transitioned to Secondary School, he had one issue where a teacher said he isn’t good at sharing and takes up to much space on their shared table.

“I explained that this was what traits of Dyspraxia my child had.

“The next day he asked the person he sits next to in class: “Do I take up too much space?”
He was told, yes, sometimes.

“He explained what Dyspraxia is, and that he isn’t doing it on purpose or to be horrible, he just doesn’t always realise.

“His classmate said: “Oh that makes sense now”.

“Seeing the confidence my son had to share his condition makes me burst with pride and truly shows how far he has come.”

Joe said: “Before I was diagnosed with dyspraxia, I had a feeling something wasn’t right with me.

“One of the things was that my handwriting wasn’t very good.

“I used to ask my younger sister to write out family birthday cards because I was embarrassed, but I was also scared that I would ruin it.

“At Primary School I sometimes felt like an outsider and would get chosen for sports last which made me sad.

“I would always be fidgeting in my chair or laying my head down on the desk but couldn’t explain why.

“Once I was diagnosed, I had an answer for many of the questions I had.

“I did specific exercises to help improve my balance and coordination and over time I started to notice the difference and have more confidence with what I could do.

“I went into Year 6 and things started clicking into place.

“My teacher believed in me which then improved my confidence, and this was showing academically.

“I was given extra time and a scribe to write for me during my SATs.

“I achieved one of the highest scores in English in the class.

“I would say that I’m quieter at school than anywhere else and I get worried at times that people won’t like me.

“I still struggle with self-doubt and confidence, but I’ve joined cadets and trying new things is something that’s helping me.

“My Mum always said that I was brighter than I ever knew but I didn’t believe it until I did outstanding in my SATs.

“I feel proud of how far I’ve come. I feel that I have accomplished a lot and I look forward to trying new things.”