I’d like to share a new post, this time not on a specific trait of Dyspraxia but on the affect of peoples reactions and assumptions to having this label. I have always felt strongly about this but over the last couple of weeks it has affected me more so.
All of my life I have been judged, looked down upon but also accepted by a small minority of people that I am proud to call friends. I have had to constantly explain myself, why I do certain things and why things upset me more than others. Although sometimes I choose to completely avoid the situation and laugh at my misfortune because others think its funny- this is often easier than drawing attention to my difficulties.
The inspiration for this post came when I started working with a young person a couple of weeks ago- I see myself in him when I was his age, everything fits and I am convinced that he is an undiagnosed Dyspraxic. His teachers have little understanding and he has been labelled ‘lazy’ and that ‘he can’t do anything’ However I know that he will eventually be able to do many of the things that at the moment he finds hard, it will just take him longer than his peers. I came home last week and cried, because I feel powerless as there’s very little I can actually do. I have never seen myself so clearly in someone else before. This probably demonstrates the positive aspect of Dyspraxia, that we can have a great sense of empathy for others.
I then thought and realised that there is something that I can do, something that others have failed to give him up until now. I can give him my understanding, understanding of his difficulties but also encouragement to overcome them. This is something that I didn’t get much of growing up and can often be more beneficial than visits to doctors or special needs coordinators. Knowing that people have made the time to have an understanding of you, improves self esteem, confidence and the ability to develop strategies. I find that people directly asking me questions is so much better than pussy footing around the issue. It also helps me to be more open and accepting of myself- rather than being in denial. I remember when I was 10 a friend asked me about my deafness in my right ear (obviously easier to explain than a developmental coordination disorder) However my response was “oh I’m not really deaf, its just that all of my hearing has transferred to one ear…” Looking back now that’s obviously completely rubbish but at the time it was a perfectly rational explanation from a 10 year old girl who was in complete denial about her difficulties, was terrified about what people might think if they knew the truth and desperately wanted to be seen as ‘normal.’
However I don’t blame people for having assumptions about me, especially as I have attempted to keep my Dyspraxia a secret from many of my friends. It is only human nature but what can be avoided is misunderstandings. With more awareness of the issues related to Dyspraxia, people will be equipped with the correct information to make their assumptions. Until this becomes the norm rather than a rare occurrence there will continue to be more children in our education system who are written off and misunderstood before they have had the chance to show the world what they are capable of achieving.