30th Anniversary Appeal: About Us

Founder, Marilyn Owen

Thirty years ago, Stella and I met at a physiotherapy group for what was then referred to as ‘Clumsy Children’. Matthew was four and had been assessed since the age of two as having delays in motor developmental, associated with several other problems, but without a clear reason or diagnosis.

There was very little information or appropriate help available and we decided, almost on a whim, to see what the response would be if we tried to make contact with other families. Coincidently, a Radio 2 program highlighted the condition and I phoned the BBC with our contact details. Immediately we were swamped with letters and phone calls from people desperate to find others in the same situation. We worked hard to reply to every letter and to take every phone call; we knew exactly how they felt.

We quickly recruited willing volunteers, and put together a team to develop a self-help group specifically for children with this condition. From the beginning we sought out useful information, approaching professionals to write articles for our newsletters and to give talks at our conferences and we wanted a strong emphasis on local groups for support and activities; but one of our first decisions was to stop using that demeaning term ‘Clumsy Child’. The Dyspraxia Trust was born.

Since then much has changed within the group – the name, the welcome addition of a wonderful team of dedicated professional staff, and the expansion to include adults with dyspraxia as well as children. But the core values remain unchanged – to help, support and inform those with or associated with dyspraxia, and this is achieved overwhelmingly by volunteers.

Thirty years on we still need the help and commitment of all our members to ensure that this and future generations are not held back unnecessarily by this condition. Dyspraxia remains frequently misunderstood and grossly underestimated in its ramifications, but it effects hundreds of thousands of people and it is important.

Founder Stella White

Thirty years of help for those suffering from, and those caring for those, that suffer from DYSPRAXIA.

It doesn’t seem possible that more than 30 years have passed since we found out our son wasn’t just clumsy but that he actually had a condition that needed help. How fortunate we were to get that help and meet with other bewildered and worried parents and carers to share our concerns and find strategies to help these young people become responsible adults. Professional help was forthcoming, when they knew how to help, but so many didn’t.

Our motivation to make sure other children got help and interventions as soon as possible was born.

From very small beginnings but with media help the floodgates of enquiries were opened and the need for “office” space facilities and staff grew, rather than coping in part of our home.  How strange for our home phone number to become the phone number of a National Charity! How proud we all were to see what we had hoped for come into being.

That sense of wellbeing is far surpassed now when collecting my grandchildren from school and be told by a parent, “My child has Dyspraxia - have you heard of it?” Yes, Yes, Yes!

More importantly so have most of the teachers and they know how to deal with it. If they haven’t there is a wealth of information out there, thanks to the ongoing and developing work of the Foundation. From one Annual conference in London, to meetings and groups across the country throughout the year, with both medical Professionals and Parliamentarians on board there is no stopping the Foundation.

Congratulations to all those involved and long may you continue.

Matthew Owen

Growing up with Dyspraxia was undoubtable hard. Having to approach, what would sometimes be everyday tasks, in a different way, was challenging, but equally rewarding when I managed to successfully complete something. This could be something as small as tying my shoelaces for school. This was all made easier with my parent’s help and then the launch of the Dyspraxia Foundation. The fact that I was able to interact with other children with very similar problems to my own, and the fact that my parents were able to meet with other likeminded parents definitely made growing up easier.

Once I finished school, and college, getting into the world of work as a Dyspraxic adult certainly has provided its own challenges. Not every manager has understood why I can’t always keep up with other people doing the same job, or why I can’t complete things in a timeframe that other people can. However other managers have been very understanding and wanting to know more about it and what they can do to make it easier for me. I am also very fortunate to have a very understanding Wife who understands my problems and is very patient with me

I think having Dyspraxia has made me a better person in many ways. I am very empathetic towards other people and what problems they may have, even if they are a complete stranger to me. Also, when I know someone well, I am very good at explaining to them how to do something in a way that they would understand, and I think this is all down to having Dyspraxia and having to do things differently myself.

Throughout my life, having dyspraxia has definitely presented its own problems, but, ultimately, I think it has made me a better person.