Boy Struggles With An “Invisible Disability” That Is More Common Than Thought

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Physical disabilities are easier to see than mental disabilities and therefore gather much more sympathy and understanding.

As a parent, it is heartbreaking to watch your child struggle in daily tasks, especially when you feel the struggles are misunderstood.

One mom knows this all too well – and discovers along her journey that she is not alone.

Jennifer Pinta, writing for Scary Mommy, noticed her son was a “bull in a china shop” when he was a toddler.

She notes how her energetic, little child would refuse to hold her hand in parking lots and would act out so much that she was unable to bring him to the doctor’s office or even the store.

While you may be thinking this sounds like a phase every toddler goes through (I mean, they call it the “terrible twos” for a reason), there were other developmental signs when Jennifer’s boy was just a baby.

The first sign that ignited a sense that something was wrong was when her son was late to sit up and turn over.

However, the pediatrician assured her everything was ok.

Then her son began coming home with “cherry-red marks on the backs of his plump and dimpled hands,” and again the pediatrician assured “it was nothing of major concern,” Jennifer writes.

Next, the young boy’s daycare teacher was concerned that he couldn’t drink from an open cup and recommended “Early Intervention Services.”

It seemed unnecessary at first but after some consideration the worried parents decided it would be worth looking into – and to their surprise “he qualified.”

As her son grew, Jennifer noticed more and more how he would take dangerous risks like “climbing and swinging” from the tops of things or jumping fearlessly from heights that weren’t “kid-friendly.”

He became “unpredictable” and she feared for his safety and her sanity.

What Jennifer came to uncover after a detailed assessment by a neuropsychologist was that her son’s needs “for sensory input to regulate his nervous system overrode his ability to use his “listening ears.””

Cognitively, Jennifer’s son was a bright young boy but had difficulty accessing his social and verbal skills, especially when he was upset.

The diagnosis is called Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Delay (DCD).

Jennifer has a Masters Degree in Special Education and ten years teaching experience, yet had never heard of this “invisible disability.”

That is because it is not discussed as openly as the other more obvious disabilities.

Statistics show Dyspraxia impacts up to 10% of the population, according to Dyspraxia Foundation.

Similar to the autism spectrum, Dyspraxia can range from mild to severe, with some kids becoming completely functional adults with the right support, to others “never learning to drive a car,” reports Scary Mommy.

For Jennifer’s son, it has impacted his emotional regulation, sensory processing, and executive functioning.

All parents worry about their children from time to time, but now Jennifer can access the tools she needs to support herself and her son on this new journey.

Trust your instincts with your child and help your child to thrive and become the best version of themselves.

Even if that means getting creative so your little monkey can swing in safety.