Now in second year, Oisín is more comfortable in secondary school and his marks are improving. Catherine feels using a laptop for homework is paying off, as he doesn’t have to use so much of his energy in trying to write legibly and can concentrate more on the content.
They are hoping he will have a scribe, or a reader, or the opportunity to type for his State exams. Meanwhile, they continue to try to bolster his self-esteem, to help him realise how smart he is.
“We used to have a thing on the fridge that said ‘take the t off can’t’,” adds Catherine.
For Karen Power, the mother of Aisling (19) who has dyspraxia, there was the frustration of health and educational professionals using the “can’t” word, when she believed in the abilities of her eldest child.
She first had concerns when Aisling seemed very slow to talk in sentences at their home in Co Waterford. But initially she was reassured by an educational psychologist that her daughter seemed very bright and that some children’s speech come on quicker than others.
By the age of 5½, she was just considered quiet at school yet still Karen felt there was something holding her back.
Children with dyspraxia can be “hyper” she explains, jumping on and falling off everything, or be “hypo”, which means they don’t get on the fence to fall off it, and Aisling would have been the latter.
Meanwhile, after trying for some time for another baby, Karen and her husband Michael were delighted to find out that she was expecting twins. But they lost the two boys 23-and-a-half weeks into the pregnancy.
“The grief was huge – and also the anger,” recalls Karen. “Here we have this beautiful daughter with challenges that nobody can figure out and then God goes and takes the two babies away.