Michael Francis Quinn’s Story


Sport Can Help Children with Dyspraxia Succeed

Michael QuinnBoth at elementary and high school, Michael underachieved academically. Despite adequate teaching and a stimulating learning and home environment, Michael was making very little progress. As a result, his self-esteem hit rock bottom. He was convinced that he was stupid and not as good as the other children in his class. Michael had several difficulties that impacted negatively on his ability to fulfill his potential as a student. Typically, his difficulties included specific aspects of learning such as reading, writing, spelling, planning and carrying out sensory and motor tasks and movement. In Ireland, during the 1990s, when Michael was attending school, there were limited structures and provisions in mainstream schools in place to identify children with learning difficulties such as Dyspraxia.

Michael had a keen interest in watching and playing soccer. As a student, Michael represented his school in various soccer competitions over the years. Despite Michael’s symptoms of Dyspraxia, he continued to play soccer and gained great confidence from participating alongside his non Dyspraxia peers. Soccer gave Michael a real “I can do it” attitude, which he slowly transferred into the classroom. For Michael, this “I can do attitude”, came from his coaches and parents who really believed in him. Michael started to experience more and more success at school because he was feeling confident with all his soccer achievements. Michael felt good because he was spending time with other children engaging in a sport he adored. Michael went on to represent his country at school-boy soccer, college soccer, and he was recruited by an English Premier League Club called Stoke City. Unfortunately, Michael’s soccer career never reached the heights he was hoping for. Yet, he strongly believes that children with learning difficulties such as Dyspraxia can benefit enormously from playing team sports. Michael adds that soccer provided him with the right foundations to enhance his confidence and self-worth, which was ultimately used to address many of his learning difficulties.

Currently, Michael is undertaking PhD studies at the School of Education, University College Dublin, Ireland. His topic of research is children with ADHD and the impact of physical activity on their behaviour and academic performance. Also, Michael is a full-time teacher and lecturer, specialising in the area of special education and teaching training. Michael is happy to say he is a friend of the amazing Warren Fried and the USA Dyspraxia Foundation.

Here is a message from Michael to Dyspraxia USA’s parents:

Important Information for Parents of Children with Dyspraxia and Comorbid Conditions
By Michael Francis Quinn
PhD Candidate
University College Dublin, Ireland

Dear Parents,
Did you know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the nation’s federal special education law that ensures public schools serve the educational needs of students with disabilities?
IDEA requires that schools provide special education services to eligible students as outlined in a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). IDEA also provides very specific requirements to guarantee a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE). FAPE and LRE are the protected rights of every eligible child, in all fifty states and U.S. Territories.

IDEA requires every state to issue regulations that guide the implementation of the federal law within the state. At a minimum, state regulations must provide all of the protections contained in IDEA. Some states may have additional requirements that go beyond the federal law. Many states offer handbooks or guides to help parents understand these state-specific policies and procedures.