The State must help those with Dyspraxia, says mum

A MOTHER whose son was diagnosed with Dyspraxia eight months ago has called on the State to “step up to the plate” and provide services for children and their families. 
Alison Doherty’s son, Ryan, was diagnosed with the condition in October of last year. It was a long road to eventual diagnosis of the developmental disorder of the brain, which causes difficulties in activities requiring coordination and movement, for the seven year old and his family.
However, Alison is not alone in her quest for early diagnoses and better services for and awareness of Dyspraxia for children and their families. She is one of the members behind Donegal Dyspraxia Support Group (DDSG). The group, which formed in March, offers support for those in Donegal and the surrounding areas. 
The group held its third meeting recently in An Grianan Hotel. The meeting also heard from fellow members, Colm Gillespie, whose son, Rory, is  currently waiting on a diagnosis of Dyspraxia. The condition not only affects children, but adults as well. Male nurse, Jarlath Cannon, was recently diagnosed with the condition and told the meeting of his experience. 
While exact numbers of those in Donegal with Dyspraxia are not known, what is known is that there is an extensive waiting list for a diagnosis, with currently little help or support afterwards. 
A survey compiled by Dyspraxia /DCD Ireland in September 2016 revealed that 76 per cent if children with Dyspraxia/DCD did not receive financial assistance from the government, while 63 per cent of parents had to cut back on basic necessities such as clothing and food to help their child. Thirty nine per cent of children with Dyspraxia/DCD did not receive a necessary support as their parents could not afford to pay for private treatment, according to the survey findings. 
It’s stark reading, but a reality for Alison and many other parents and adults in her same position. 
Speaking to the Donegal News, Alison said: “The main aim of setting up this group was to let people know what Dyspraxia is and that is exists. Our main objective is to get workshops facilitated by professionals to help parents of children with Dyspraxia, as well as adults who are diagnosed with Dyspraxia.  
“With my own son, his coordination is not good at times, and this can have an affect on him socially. Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder. No two children who are diagnosed with the condition will be affected in the same way.
Dyspraxia affects fine and growth skills. In an adult, a diagnosis of Dyspraxia can mean that person could experience difficulty learning and could struggle to cope with independent living.”
Alison said early intervention is crucial, but this is currently being blocked by gruelling waiting lists. 
“The waiting lists for a diagnosis of Dyspraxia are so long. A lot of parents are forced to go private and even so there is a waiting list. We want people to know that we are here. Parents like me and others are all in limbo; we’re all in the same place and we don’t know where to go for help and support. The State is not stepping up to the mark.” 
Fianna Fáil TD, Charlie McConalogue and former councillor, John Ryan, who recently stepped aside, both attended the recent meeting. They have pledged their support. 
“We as parents are having to support and educate ourselves on this condition. I am appealing to professionals out there who can help us by facilitating training for those affected to get in touch with us or Harry Conway, CEO of
Dyspraxia Ireland, but it has to be financially feasible for parents.” 
For more information see Donegal Dyspraxia Support Group on Facebook. 

Alison Doherty, pictured with some other members of Donegal Dyspraxia Support Group, Colm Gillespie and Jarlath Cannon. Also included are Charlie McConalogue TD and former councillor, John Ryan.

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