Dyspraxia: A disability that nobody can see

“I knew Luc was different right from the word go, but people would say, ‘Oh that’s a boy,’ ” says Michelle, who is one of four girls with no brothers.

“He was really difficult to settle as a baby; I used to carry him in one of those slings. I just couldn’t settle him and had huge problems feeding him.”

She wondered where she was going wrong. “He never crawled; he bum-shoved. He was late talking; he was late reaching all the milestones.”

Luc was also “horrendously clingy”, and they had trouble with childminders. He had a permanent bump on his forehead from frequent falls, necessitating five stitches on one occasion.

“He is not a bold child at all,” Michelle stresses. “He tries so hard, but he is always falling.”

Luc did not settle in the first two pre-schools they tried, and in the third one the woman in charge recognised there was something different about him.

But Michelle knew nothing about dyspraxia until, just before Luc was due to start school, she stumbled across information about the condition on a website.

“I went, ‘Oh my God, that’s him’.” She rang the number that was given for the Dyspraxia Association of Ireland and told the man who answered, “I think my son’s got dyspraxia.”

“It’s hard to say that,” she says, but at least she was then advised what to do and where to go to get a diagnosis. Now, as public relations officer for the association, which is in desperate need of funds to keep a support network going, she is determined to raise greater awareness of the condition.

“We want it to roll off the tongue, like dyslexia. People just don’t know about it,” says Michelle, who, before she had children, worked with the European Central Bank in Frankfurt on the launch of the euro.

The Carpenters decided to see how Luc would get on in school before they looked for a diagnosis but, very soon, problems became apparent. An occupational therapist pinpointed dyspraxia and later a paediatric neurologist diagnosed dyspraxia with possible

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