This blog has focussed on the diagnosis of Dyspraxia that has shaped me as a person, made things more challenging and my achievements something really to be proud of. I started this blog for me and for my friends and family, I wanted a place where I can express the thoughts and feelings that being labelled as having a specific learning difficulty develops. Recently I have been reflecting, reflecting on what has made me who I am, what has helped and things that have been frustrating. I think being frustrated sums up how I felt growing up, being frustrated that I can’t do things as quickly as others and frustrated that people don’t understand me. I have heard time and time again that ‘you look fine’ and ‘ I wouldn’t have known that anything was wrong with you’ The answer to that is, there isn’t anything wrong with me- one of the most frustrating elements of having a hidden or invisible disability I have found.
I have only really accepted my Dyspraxia fairly recently instead of being in a state of complete denial, as I was all the way through my childhood, teenage years and part of early adult life. I have never hidden behind my diagnosis and used it as a reason why I can’t do things, because quite simply I’ve never believed that ‘I can’t’. I didn’t understand myself or accept my difficulties, let alone be confident enough to explain to someone why I find some things a bit more difficult. I have been realising just how much my diagnosis of Dyspraxia affects me in daily life and that is what I’d like to share with you here. Throughout a day, we will all undertake millions of tasks, some we don’t think twice about and for me some that I didn’t even understand were related to my condition until now.
In the morning we have to get up, I start work at quarter to ten and finish at half four. I have to get two buses to get to work, to feel confident with this bus journey, I had to undertake it twice beforehand and be driven the route I would travel, to make sure that I knew exactly where to get off so that I felt confident that I wouldn’t get lost. This example explains how my poor sense of direction and spatial awareness affects me. I find it very challenging and sometimes scary to go to unfamiliar and new places alone. I’ll often change plans to meet friends at the last minute, its not because I’m unreliable or not bothered about seeing them, its more than likely that I’m terrified about the travelling I will have to do to see my friend. Sometimes familiar places confuse me, despite having been there before, I will often be unable to get there without someone physically taking me.
I set my alarm for six thirty but don’t normally get up until nearer seven because it takes me longer to get up and do everything I need to do to get out in the morning. I need more time to do things because it takes me longer to process information. I get there eventually and leave the house at eight, the bus I need to get to work on time isn’t until twenty past nine, but leaving this early allows me the extra time I need to plan my journey and feel confident about not being late for the bus. I also find roads a real challenge. So walking to the bus stop can be stressful and very frustrating, it is a simple activity that people do everyday but I find so hard. My fear of roads and specifically moving traffic has become a bit of a joke amongst my group of friends. I am fine when traffic doesn’t move but since people like to drive their cars around these days causes the problem. I have difficulties with depth perception and judging distances. This is problematic when a car is coming towards me and I am standing at a pavement ready to cross the road, I literally have no idea how far the car is away from me and how much time I need to cross the road safely. I therefore won’t cross roads without a green man or someone holding my hand. All routes that I have to travel alone are all planned so that I am able to cross a road confidently and safely without another person having to physically help negotiate moving traffic. I have also realised that travelling on public transport can be problematic with balance and coordination difficulties, I have to work so hard to stay upright on a busy moving bus when there are no seats available and I am constantly brushing against people or bumping into things. Sometimes I am unable to walk beside someone and hold a conversation as I’d walk into them. I’d be terrible at a drink drive test because I find walking in a straight line impossible, even when sober! However I have learnt strategies to deal with these coordination difficulties so that the messages from my brain can get there quicker and more efficiently.
I have to work harder at work, to process the information and achieve as everybody else. I don’t let the Dyspraxia hold me back though, despite often coming home at the end of the day exhausted and just wanting to go to bed. I have realised that tiredness is the side effect of my body fighting against the challenges that I face. I recently learnt about the fight or flight response- the way we deal with danger, you can either confront it or run away. I’ve fought very hard to get to where I am today and I’m happy that I’ve chosen that direction in life, society can be a cruel place to grow up if you’re singled out as being different, I remember realising that I wasn’t quite like other children aged seven, I wanted to be normal or accepted. However now I feel that to a certain extent I am accepted by the people I care about but still feel that I need to create more of an understanding and awareness.
I would like to conclude by exploring how I am affected socially, the ability to form and maintain relationships is fundamental in society today. I have friends and will go out socially but often come away believing that I could have tried harder or done something differently. I find that I retreat into my shell in social situations and become very quiet. I’ve always described how I feel socially as being on the outside, looking in on the crowd. You desperately want to join in but there is a barrier in the way preventing you from doing do. There are times when I have felt included but there are other times when I’ve felt incredibly excluded and sidelined. I know that it can be hard to include someone if you lack the knowledge, understanding and ability to offer acceptance and reassurance. Naturally I have never shouted about my Dyspraxia from the roof tops and I am not going to start now, although I realise writing a blog about it is a very open thing to do. People have only really known about my labels on a need to know basis. However I have moved on miles from being completely isolated at school so I do believe that things can improve and like everything else in my daily life, I will eventually find ways to compensate and deal with these situations.
The world is a confusing and challenging place for anyone. Having the wiring of a Dyspraxic brain may make daily life iust that bit more challenging but It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to overcome those frustrations to turn your dreams into reality. It certainly didn’t hold Albert Einstein back. I wish I knew that years ago.