Luke Deuterman’s Story

10-year-old Luke Deuterman of Greensboro, N.C., was diagnosed with dyspraxia when he was 5 years old. His parents, Dawne and Dan, waited until Luke was 9 to tell him about the diagnosis.

“We really didn’t want to give Luke a label, but more importantly, we didn’t want to give Luke an excuse not to try by using dyspraxia as a crutch,” said Dawne.

The Deutermans waited to tell Luke about his dyspraxia until he was mature enough to understand what it means to live with the disorder. They also knew it was time because Luke was expressing more frustration and using words like “stupid” to describe himself when he struggled to do things that came more easily to other kids.

For Luke, having an explanation for why he struggled with things like handwriting, riding a bike, tying his shoes and playing catch, made him feel not so different from everyone else.

“Before I knew I had dyspraxia,” Luke said, “I just thought I was stupid and bad in school, and it made me feel really bad.”

Looking back, Luke exhibited some early signs of dyspraxia. As a baby, he started walking at 9 months without ever crawling. Later, Dan noticed that Luke lagged his older brother, Jake, in his ability to catch or throw a ball. As a toddler, Luke had no interest in coloring or scribbling.

“We never had to worry about him coloring on the walls,” Dawne joked.

When Luke was in kindergarten, his teacher noticed that he had issues gripping a pencil. He began seeing an occupational therapist and was soon diagnosed with dyspraxia.
Luke attends a private where differences are embraced and celebrated, and the teachers nurture his unique learning still.

With support of his friends, family and teachers – and lots of hard work and practice on his part – Luke has blossomed into a capable, confident, compassionate intelligent and well-spoken young man. He is an avid reader, an imaginative writer, a good swimmer, an aspiring actor, a fledgling fencer, a history lover and a great friend.

The Deutermans believe there needs to be better awareness of dyspraxia among physicians, educators and the general public so other children and adults with the disorder can get the support and intervention they need.