Today I went to see a film called X+Y. It was about an autistic boy who was trying to find his way in the world- I would definitely recommend that you go and see it if you get the chance. I came away feeling very moved by the film but also inspired to write my next post on this blog. I was taken by how I felt after it and saw it as a way in to start to explore the more hidden elements of Dyspraxia and those often more difficult to talk about. Although I don’t have autism I identified with many of the issues dealt with in the film.
The film focussed on this autistic boys talent and love for Maths, as most of the world confused him he felt that Maths was something that he only truly understood. I’m not at all gifted at anything, I’m fairly average academically although if you factor in my history you could say that I’ve achieved some amazing things that I really shouldn’t have because I look pretty rubbish on paper. However like the boy in the film I had a way to escape from the misunderstandings of the world, the feelings that I was never good enough and the bullying I faced at school. In the film he used Maths to get away from these things, for me I have used music. I am by no means as talented as he was, but I enjoy it and I think that counts for more than anything. In the film the boys dad says something along the lines of ‘You’re like a wizard with special powers and we’re just muggles that don’t quite understand what its like in your world or how you do things’ I think that this is a brilliant quote, except I probably don’t have special powers, my brain is just wired differently to everyone else’s, it often takes me longer to do something and I process information differently but I always get there in the end.
I have mentioned in earlier posts that one of the main things I wanted to be when I was a child was ‘normal’, not different or weird or special as I used to get called time and time again. I searched long and hard for something where I would feel accepted and valued for who I am. When I reached secondary school I finally found it. I was in year 8 and had to go to the lecture theatre. The lecture theatre was where it all started. I had it written down in my planner so that I knew where I had to go- writing things down helps me plan things and remember important information. After school on a Thursday night was a place that became a sanctuary where I found something I enjoyed, didn’t feel threatened and was valued for being me. I had joined the school ceilidh band, from then on I developed this way to escape and deal with my challenges and frustrations through music. The ceilidh band made school slightly more bearable and gave me something to look forward to. I then went on to participate in other activities outside of school and made friends through music for the first time in my life, who I value more than anything mainly because they’ve stuck around and respect me for who I am.
Having dyspraxia makes you more prone to developing mental health problems, this is understandable due to the amount of frustration and emotional strain dyspraxia can cause. This emotional side to Dyspraxia is hidden and carries the most stigma, but just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean its not really there. You can see someone falling over, bumping into furniture or unable to tie their shoe laces but it is more difficult to see what’s going on inside. I don’t think its impossible though, it just requires a bit more understanding and compassion. Today I felt disconnected coming out of the cinema, the only way I can describe it is that it feels like I’m not actually there, as if I’m in a different world and everyone’s moving on around me. Dealing with these feelings as a Dyspraxic is difficult (or for anyone really) because you struggle to put into words what is going on in your mind. A phrase that I have used before in this blog to explain my dyspraxia fits in well here: ‘its like you’re on the outside looking in on the crowd’ Towards the end of the film it showed the boy gaining an understanding of the world beyond Maths and moving towards the crowd. I too have moved from the confused, shy girl with very few friends to the educated, confident and happy person that I am today. It meant so much that the film focussed on him overcoming his difficulties rather than struggling and failing. I believe that when people begin to accept you, having a label or diagnosis can lead to many great positive experiences and achievements.