While a lot of people have heard of Dsylexia, not as much noise has been made about it’s slightly more embarrassing and complicated ‘cousin’ Dyspraxia.
I am a woman with Dyspraxia (and Dyslexia) and had never heard of it until I was about 23. I knew I had Dyslexia from an early age, but that diagnosis didn’t explain why I struggled – and still do with such ‘simple’ things.
I can remember not being able to tie my shoelaces until I was 16, and feeling highly ashamed that someone had to help me. I couldn’t learn the time until I was about 14, my head could simply not compute how one hand moved only a little, while another hand moved all the way but it was still the same time.
Speaking to any Dyspraxic – if you can locate one (usually we’re tripping over our feet) and most of us have similar stories – we had a hard time in school, we struggle in the workplace – and struggle even more to get into it in the first place, we suck at sport, we get lost, our clumsiness is legendary…the list goes on.
There is slowly an increasing awareness of Dyspraxia but also a lot of mis-information and assumptions that I want to correct:
“You’ll grow out of it”
Dyspraxia is not something you grow out of, any more than someone born without legs will suddenly grow them. Like many learning difficulties, it can come with a huge variety of issues that aren’t limited to learning itself, which is one of the major differences between Dyspraxia and Dyslexia.
“Girls don’t get Dyspraxia”
Wrong. Girls aren’t diagnosed as Dyspraxia until later. Boys are ‘supposed’ to be more physically active, good at sports etc so when they struggle it’s noticed quicker, girls get written off until university and then we realise things aren’t adding up.
“Being clumsy isn’t a disability”
While clumsiness in itself isn’t a disability, Dyspraxia isn’t limited to ‘clumsiness’ – it’s simply a more visible outward sign than a lot of the other symptoms. Dyspraxia is more than clumsiness
“Dyspraxics are stupid”
No, no, no! We think in different ways, and often do not gel well with the linear education system and we struggle to do basic ‘everyday’ things like tie shoelaces, kick a ball, put on make-up or eat without it looking a bit like a nuclear disaster, that does not equate to stupidity in any way.
“You’re just lazy/messy”
No, you’re not understanding enough and way too judgemental. Sorry but this is something virtually every Dyspraxic, and Dyslexic will have heard far, far too many times in their lives, no matter their age. Trust me, it is *not* fun struggle with mess and disorganisation. It’s highly stressful and depressing, which makes it harder to motivate yourself to get organised, so the cycle continues. It is not to do with laziness, it is a struggle and something you are constantly fighting against and trust me, with the amount of time, energy and stress we put on ourselves over organisation, we are not lazy.
Below is a list of typical symptoms of Dyspraxia – this is not a complete list however, and as with other disabilities Dyspraxics might not struggle with everything on this list:
- Poor posture – will often ‘lean’ to one side while sitting, will lean against something if standing. Cannot hold one position for long
- Sensitive or under sensitive to touch and pain
- Dislike/over sensitive bright lights, noises and crowds
- Can’t stand certain tastes and fabrics – refuse to eat/wear certain things
- Poor body awareness – will often ‘sprawl’
- Cannot walk in straight line (will ‘zig zag’)
- Poor short term memory – constantly forgetting tasks, requests, where put things, struggle with lists, cannot note take or follow dictation, struggle with sequencing
- Poor muscle tone – struggle with grip and dexterity
- Poor grip – struggle with keys, pens, locks, pouring liquids, screwing/unscrewing lids
- Bad or no sense of direction. Cannot follow directions or maps
- Struggle with left/right, distance, time and space (may loose track of time, not be able to judge distance etc)
- Struggle to, or cannot ride a bike or drive a car
- Cannot hop or skip (mainly in children)
- Didn’t crawl as a child, late learning to walk
- Bad sense of direction – struggle to tell left and right, cannot follow maps, cannot remember directions
- Frequently ‘clumsy’ – banging into things, tripping /falling over & spilling thing
- ‘Messy’ appearance: struggle with buttons, shoe laces, putting on make-up, shaving, brushing hair
- Swing or ‘flap’ arms about when walking or struggle to sit still
- Cannot multi-task, can only focus on one thing at a time
- May often have Dyslexia as well
- Lack of rhythem – struggle to dance, play instruments
- Struggle with heights – stairs, hills etc due to poor balance and perception will often avoid heights
- Co-ordination problems when eating and drinking – tendency to spill over table or on clothes
- Frequently interrupts conversation and miss non verbal cues. Can be tactless and take things literally (especially sarcasm), may struggle to think of correct words
- Struggle to adapt to new situations or changes in routine, finds it very stressful and upsetting
- Easily become stressed, anxious, depressed and indecisive over ‘minor’ issues
- Often day-dream, loose concentrate and wander aimlessly
- Hard to concentrate, often loose focus and slow to finish things
- Messy and cluttered, frequently loose or forget things
- Prone to insomnia and depression
- May have phobias, fears and be obsessive
- Frequently lack self esteem and struggle to be assertive
If you suspect yourself or someone you know may be Dyspraxia, go visit the Dyspraxia Foundation and see the support and advice they can offer, don’t use this list as a diagnosis, make sure to get an official assesment
If you think you, or someone you know has Dyspraxia, please visit the Dyspraxia Foundation for more help and advice, also look into getting an official assessment.