It is dyspraxia awareness week. Many of you might not know this as dyspraxia isn’t as widely known about as other conditions like dyslexia, but it is pretty common. When dyspraxia is no longer underlined red when I type it, I will be happy. It is also mental health awareness day, so I decided to do a joint post.
Many people think of dyspraxia as being clumsy, but it is so much more than that, and often it can affect our mental health. I know that my self-esteem was pretty low as a child because I couldn’t do things that other kids could do. I often compared myself to my older brother and saw ways that I lacked in comparison to him. However, he probably had his own challenges too, but I didn’t see that. I saw what he was good at and I saw what I wasn’t good at which led to my low-self esteem. It also didn’t help that I was quite badly bullied at school. These bullies fed into that self-doubt and I still have trouble, years later, finding my self worth.
I was diagnosed with dyspraxia when I was 10, shortly after my mum had been diagnosed, in her 40s! An educational psychologist would take me out of lessons to work on skills. I remember she made me cut up a sandwich and it was the hardest task I had ever been assigned. Cutting up a sandwich! She then let me eat it, which I found cool, as I got to eat during lesson time. She also made me navigate around the school library. This was when I first learned about the trick to help with directions. If you can form your thumb and finger into an ‘L’ shape then that is left.
Although I had some help with my dyspraxia at school, it wasn’t enough to make my struggles easier. To this day, I cannot ride a bike, tie up shoelaces, or do other tasks that others find easy. We recently bought some shoes for me and we thought I wouldn’t have to tie up the laces as they come with a zip but I do, so my parents have the fun job of doing that when I want to wear those shoes.
I felt like a failure for my entire childhood. I was at a time in my life when I really didn’t see the point of exams because I would fail anyway, my mind told me, so why even bother? An incident happened during one exam. It was a practical science exam so talking was allowed. The exam was easy for me, actually. The exam was not the hard part. Putting my hair into a bun was! As it was science, I had to tie my hair into a bun. I had only just figured out how to put it into a ponytail, let alone a bun. I started crying as the teacher pressured me. How could I explain that I didn’t know how? By some miracle, I managed to put my hair into a bun by twisting my hands around in a way I had never done before, but my mental state had deteriorated for the exam. I could only think about how much of a failure I was for the rest of the exam and didn’t do as well as I had done the previous year because of that. I still did quite well though.
A lot of people with dyspraxia have average or above average IQs, but they don’t feel like they do, simply because they struggle with the most simple of tasks. It’s important, if you know someone dyspraxic, to let them know their strengths. They will be thinking and thinking about how they can’t make a bed or dress properly; remind them that they have great qualities. My mum, with dyspraxia, is an artist. She makes amazing paintings — but she often trips up. You can be successful if you’re dyspraxic. You just have to navigate life a slightly different route to everyone else, and that’s okay. You might be slow to learn life skills, but you have other qualities. For instance, I struggle so much with every day tasks. I still, at 20 years old, cannot figure out how to make my body not trip up over itself daily. I guarantee I will trip up at least once a day. When I was 12, I tripped up and broke my toe! I’m too dyspraxic for many jobs. I cannot be an athlete, nor can I be an artist like my mum (fine motor skills are more of a challenge for me) but one thing I’ve always loved doing is writing. So I will write. I won’t write for very long because my hands get tired easily, but I will continue writing for as long as I can. I am a writer and I love it.
Dyspraxia complicates things, but I can now (badly) cut up food. I will probably never learn some skills but others might come to me over time. Dyspraxia makes things hard but focus on what you love and what you’re good at. We think in different ways, but that isn’t necessarily a bad things. In fact, some times, my dyspraxia can help me rather than hinder me. Dyspraxia can cause bluntness, which some can see as a bad thing, but I see it as a positive. There’s no secrets with me or my mum; we say what’s on our mind! Dyspraxia is part of neurodiversity and I embrace it now. I needed a little help at school with my handwriting and other skills but that doesn’t hold me back anymore because I use a computer to write everything. All these traits make me who I am so I accept dyspraxia as a part of me.
If you want to go check out a dyspraxic blog, to find out how one awesome person manages to adult with dyspraxia, try Dyspraxia Diaries 101
I often talk about autism and mental health because they affect me a lot too, but Dyspraxia Diaries 101 focuses on how Dyspraxia affects her and it’s one of my favourite blogs because I can relate to it a lot. Some of you might have dyspraxia and not know it; it’s under-diagnosed. If you relate to my story, or hers, you might have dyspraxia! You’re not alone in your struggles and a dyspraxia diagnosis can lead to a lot of realisations and help. You are not a failure.
Thanks for reading,