'Growing up, I got the sense that people thought I was a bit slow - they thought he’s not quite as smart or clever as everyone else. Even though I am.'
After years of being misunderstood, Joe Ruane is campaigning with Fixers for better support for pupils who have dyspraxia.
The condition is a developmental disorder of the brain which causes difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement.
His Fixers campaign was broadcast on ITV Calendar News on February 2.
The 24-year-old, from Headingley, Leeds, tells ITV about the disorder that used to be known as ‘clumsy child syndrome’.
He says: ‘Dyspraxia affects my motor and coordination skills.
'When I was getting ready for PE, I used to feel like I kept my class waiting while I was getting dressed – things like tying my shoe laces can take forever.
‘It’s also a bit embarrassing when people think I’m a messy eater.’
Joe’s mum Jane recalls the incongruity between Joe’s academic ability and the challenges he faced performing seemingly simple tasks.
She says: ‘He was really quick at learning to read - he learnt to read when he was two or three. He’s good at spelling and he has good ICT skills. But on the other hand, he’s the last there in PE trying to tie his shoelaces.
‘If Joe wants to do something he just had to put twice as much effort in as the next boy. He gets there in the end and that makes us really proud of him.’
With Fixers, Joe has created a short film that describes his struggles at school, and shows that there is more to dyspraxia than just being clumsy.
Click here to watch Joe's film.
He says: ‘I want to make sure that kids with dyspraxia have the help that I didn’t get.
‘Having a voice on this issue is great. It makes me feel proud to have dyspraxia and to be able to help people become more aware of it.’
Gill Dixon from the Dyspraxia Foundation supports Joe’s campaign.
She says: ‘Dyspraxia is also called developmental coordination disorder, and it’s thought to affect at least one child in every classroom.
‘It’s very poorly understood. These children are often singled out as being slightly odd - the assumption is that they’re slow, they’re stupid and they’re incapable - and they are actually exactly the opposite of that.’
Watching Joe’s film at a local secondary school, other pupils confess to knowing little or nothing about dyspraxia beforehand.
One student comments: ‘I’ve known someone at school who had dyspraxia and I realise having watched the film that maybe I didn’t make enough of an effort to understand her condition and ask her about it.’
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.