Sonya has three children, Isabelle, Tilly and Darcy, all of whom have Dyspraxia.
DCD is a neurological disorder that makes it hard to plan and coordinate physical movement and it is believed to affect 1 in 10 children. DCD can affect fine motor, gross motor, speech skills and processing.
Sonya MacGillivary tells us her story as a mother of three children with Dyspraxia. She identified her children’s dyspraxia at different stages.
“Isabelle (11) didn’t reach all her milestones, she had bad verbal dyspraxia. I knew there was something off with her speech. It was like she had a silent stutter, she couldn’t get the words out, she was trying to talk to me and you could see her really trying hard.” Sonya brought Isabelle to a Speech Therapist and she was diagnosed at age 4. While Darcy (10), who was diagnosed at 7, had very bad hand writing and poor coordination. He couldn’t cycle a bike until age 8 and “he doesn’t like sports because if he goes to kick the ball he will fall backwards.”
In comparison, Sonya initially thought that her youngest Matilda (7) was fine. However, she was also diagnosed with DCD at age 6. Her handwriting is bad, and she has poor coordination. Sonya’s children are very accepting of their condition, but it can be upsetting at times. “Darcy was very upset that he couldn’t play GAA, when it comes to holding the ball and trying to kick it he couldn’t do it.” They have been described as being ‘lazy’ or ‘lackadaisical’, Sonya explains that this is not the case, it is part of their DCD. Sonya advises that her children need ‘movement breaks’ to keep them focused.
Despite best efforts, getting therapy for Dyspraxia can be challenging. The problem is that in Ireland the waiting lists for DCD interventions such as occupational therapy and speech therapy are very long. Sonya has noticed that it is now taking longer to access treatment since her first child was diagnosed. It took Isabelle 12 months to get access to care, Darcy who was diagnosed at 7 is still waiting for treatment and “they’re saying 20-24 months” for Sonya’s youngest, Matilda who was recently diagnosed.
Sonya and her children have been using the Beats Medical Dyspraxia App to access exercises and therapies at home, which the children have found really fun. Sonya says, “It’s a great way, especially if they are on waiting lists, to access some help and they can do all these exercises themselves and it’s all there on the screen.” Despite the daily challenges that the MacGillivray family face, they have a very positive outlook. Sonya’s children have learned how to deal with having DCD. Isabelle tells her mum “don’t rush me”, and Sonya explains that “she knows how to handle it, its just by taking time”.