Will & Grace alum and Good Luck Charlie star Leigh-Allyn Baker was devastated to find out that her 8-year-old son, Griffin Samuel, has dyspraxia.
A developmental disorder that can affect coordination (standing on one foot, writing or just holding a pencil, getting dressed), dyspraxia can make daily life difficult for an affected child.
In Griffin’s case, the dyspraxia manifests as frequent falls and dropping items. His mom explained that he showed no symptoms until he was a little more than 3 years old.
“It was then that we noticed a pretty big change,” Baker told People. “He never chose a dominant side with his hands. That was the first clue. He used both hands to pretty much do everything.
“He’s far advanced in many areas, but then there are other areas like standing on one foot, holding a pencil or writing that are just extremely difficult for him,” she added.
A year or so later, Griffin’s preschool also noticed some abnormalities in coordination. Griffin was having trouble putting on his own jacket, socks and shoes, so his teachers suggested that Baker give an occupational therapist a try and request an in-depth assessment.
Baker was stunned by the diagnosis.
“He was assessed for two sessions — an hour and a half to two hours each — and I thought they were gonna tell me his hands are a little weak and he needs to play with Legos,” she explained. “I’ll never forget, she just said, ‘So, Griffin has dyspraxia.’
“I didn’t make a noise, tears just rolled down my face. I’ve never experienced that kind of emotion before,” Baker said of the moment.
In August, Baker will be participating in a Facebook Live chat with Dyspraxia Foundation USA in hopes of enlightening others about the disorder and helping other parents cope with their child’s disorder.
Unfortunately, some aren’t diagnosed with dyspraxia until later in life. Stephanie Guidera, a classical singer from Liverpool, England, was diagnosed at 20 after struggling with issues for years.
“Dyspraxia is like the physical version of dyslexia,” she said in a video for BBC News.
Leigh Allyn-Baker hopes to help Griffin as much as he can before his adult years. She acknowledged that hearing “a big scary name” like dyspraxia can be an overwhelming experience.
“I always feel like if I just had a crystal ball to see what his future would be like, I could breathe. I could relax more,” she said.
Despite deficits in balance — and some muscle weakness and fine-motor skills problems — Griffin continues to thrive and is a creative, imaginative, outgoing boy.
His mom is committed to finding new ways to help Griffin’s coordination and brain function to “give him the best shot for his future possible.”
Baker said, “We have to adapt to situations. Life is alive and always on the move.”