Living with dyspraxia: ‘As much as I try, I will never be a normal person’

Lee Maguire was told by a consultant that he never would drive. He has since passed his test

Despite having dyspraxia, Lee Maguire passed his driving test at his first attempt

Despite having dyspraxia, Lee Maguire passed his driving test at his first attempt

 

Lee Maguire put huge pressure on himself to achieve high points in the Leaving Certificate, even though he had the disadvantage of dyspraxia to cope with.

The allowance for his diagnosis was extra time in the exams – 10 minutes per hour and a five-minute rest break per hour.

“I was determined to go to university – my number one choice was history in Trinity,” says Maguire, who is from Monaghan.

Although he was disappointed not to get enough points for that, in hindsight he believes he would have probably dropped out. Instead he did a Bachelor of Arts International in Sociology and Irish Folklore in UCD, which included a year studying in Reykjavik, followed by a Master’s of Literature in Irish Folklore.

“Over the years I have developed coping mechanisms – reaching out to family and friends for support, but also professional organisations to help me reach my potential.”

He was “very fortunate”, he says, to have been diagnosed at the age of five, and to have educational support from then, right through third-level. So does he think now, aged 29, that he has been able to fulfil his potential?

“I am getting there. I am still seeking a permanent job and like everyone I dream of the wife and 2.4 children. I don’t think I have fully reached it, but I have definitely come a long way.”

Currently temporarily employed at Titantic Belfast, he believes in disclosing his condition to any potential employers. “As much as I try, I will never be a normal person.”

Although he believes his condition is a factor in not having a permanent job yet, he feels lack of experience doesn’t help and he wishes an employer “would take a chance with me”.

Describing himself as “socially awkward”, Maguire has become “addicted” to Toastmasters, which he joined to help develop his social skills. But he wonders how he has the confidence to address 100-200 people, yet not to chat to one person.

He can’t read the social cues to decide if somebody he is talking to in a bar is genuinely interested in him, is flirting with him or is being two-faced. “I just don’t get it.”

However, the personal achievements he is most proud of include an eight-month trip around the world and learning to drive – despite being told by a consultant that he never would, due to the visual nature of his dyspraxia that affects his peripheral vision

“I passed my driving test on my first attempt,” he adds.

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