I’ve received many lovely comments from people who have been reading my blog, mainly from parents who are trying to understand their children’s condition better. These messages have been incredibly powerful and motivating. I am overwhelmed by how far in the world my blog has travelled. I am learning too, about how in places like Canada there seems to be even more of a lack of awareness of Dyspraxia than there is in the UK. I’ve heard stories of the process of just getting a diagnosis being a great challenge. I don’t know how hard a process getting my own diagnosis was because my parents did all that for me, but I imagine it was fairly easy as I was diagnosed at such a young age- it was picked up at birth that something wasn’t quite right, I was first diagnosed as what they called a ‘floppy baby’ so I guess I am one of the lucky few who attempted to get the help they needed as early as possible. The extent of this lack of understanding across other countries makes me very sad and even more determined to continue empowering people with my writing.
I have received a few messages from one person who has a son with Dyspraxia, and related to much of what I’ve experienced to her son and his difficulties. Growing up with Dyspraxia is incredibly confusing and sometimes embarrassing. I definitely felt embarrassed at school and in someway inadequate to my peers. The last thing I felt I could do was express how I felt about my Dyspraxia. I am sure many teenagers feel the same, so can understand how powerful and fascinating it can be when parents come across someone in the land of the internet who is expressing those feelings. I certainly felt the same way when I came across Rosie Edmondsons blog ‘thinkoutsideofthecardboardbox.blogspot.co.uk’ Definitely worth reading some of her work. I am incredibly honoured to have unintentionally helped people find their voice.
This weekend has been very difficult anxiety wise, I was meant to go down to London for the Dyspraxia foundation AGM and conference but decided that it would be too much of a challenge to undertake a complicated journey through London’s transport network to get to my destination anxiety free. There are many times I’ve had to cancel plans because the thought processes and organisation involved becomes quite overwhelming, or sometimes I’ve needed more support to alleviate the worries associated with traveling. Many times I’ve used gradual exposure to familiarise myself with a situation before I feel able to deal with it confidently and comfortably. I was disappointed about not getting to London so today I went swimming, I have always been a good swimmer and most of the time I’ve loved it too. I always feel relaxed and calm when I’m swimming, it is a great place to reflect. I very rarely feel good at many sports, so feeling that I can actually do something well is one of the best feelings I have experienced. PE at school created feelings of fear and terror, whereas swimming has been quite the opposite. While I was swimming I thought about how to answer the above question ‘How do you know your thoughts are not organised? What does it feel like?’ I think for me organisation of thought is related very much to how I express myself and relate to other people. It also affects my organisation of activities and instructions inside my head before I carry them out. Many times I have been given verbal instructions and haven’t carried out everything I was asked to do. This isn’t because I’m lazy or not paying attention, its because I find it incredibly difficult to process more than one instruction at a time, as it takes me longer to process the information needed to carry out a task. In this instance I am often unaware that my thoughts are not organised and that I forget to do things, unless people point it out to me- often in a form of complaint. Tidying is also a big challenge and unless I have a plan organised in my head, things often never get done.
However I am very aware of how my difficulties in organising my thoughts affect how I express myself and relate to other people. It can make me feel incredibly self conscious and confused. It takes me longer to process a conversation, so before I have a chance to formulate a reply in my head, the conversation topic has moved on and my response would be out of context. I often as a result of this delayed thought process struggle to understand when it would be appropriate to react. A consequence of this is that I appear very shy and quiet in social situations. I often struggle to express myself verbally, I always have loads of thoughts and feelings racing around in my head, but it takes a long time to formulate the sentences for what I want to say. However I have developed some successful coping strategies that have made this area of my life less challenging. I often speak to friends over text as I find it easier than expressing myself on the phone. I can only speak to people that I am really comfortable with over the phone. I have always been able to organise my thoughts in the written word well so I play to this strength as much as possible. When ever I am given instructions I write them down and how long it should take me to do each one, then I tick them off when they’re done. I also plan any journeys I have to undertake to the finest detail, writing everything down I must do from the moment I get up. This meticulous plan acts as a way to reassure me when I am travelling, it also reinforces the achievement I have made.
I think that this part of my Dyspraxia is often overlooked and people can easily make assumptions and in my experience accusations too. I am grateful for the comment I received prompting me to write this next post, because it is a very important part of my life but also a very hidden aspect of Dyspraxia that needs to be recognised and understood. People don’t know that you have difficulties with the thoughts inside your head unless you express it. I hope I have successfully expressed it here.