I have Dyspraxia. It is something I was born with and it is something I’ll always have. It is genetic and is passed down through my family. I was diagnosed when I was 15.
Yes, it makes me different and yes, it makes a few things difficult like spelling words some days. It does annoy the hell out of me when I forget to spell the word ‘because’ some days and I’ll end up spending 15 minutes trying to remember because my brain will have had a wipe and have forgotten it. Other difficult things are seeing black writing on white paper, I can’t see the words that well and bashing into things that I know are there, but I think I’ll miss them and I don’t. I have more bruises than I can count sometimes.
But it has given me some things like because of it, I have had to learn to touch type and now I can type an essay faster than someone could write it without taking my eyes off of the screen. Because I have Dyspraxia, I have learnt to be more careful and to take my time with things. I can’t rush and I need to be sure.
I can’t organise my room at all, but I can organise my mind and my computer perfectly, which I have learnt to do because otherwise I’ll lose or forget something. I know that because of my dyspraxia, my grammar and spelling is terrible, but I write to work at it so that I can learn it over and over again. I know that because of my dyspraxia, I find shapes and driving difficult, so I take longer to be sure and I drive automatic when I’m older.
Fate puts challenges in front of us to show us that with a little work and perseverance, we can find a way around them. I know that because of my dyspraxia and terrible balance, I couldn’t ride a bike till I was 15, but once I worked at it and got more confident, I realised that I could do it.
Confidence issues are a big thing that I have had to deal with because I was told that I was stupid for not knowing a word or that I was slow or that I was lazy for not being able to do normal sports. It has taken me till now to gain back some of the confidence that was taken from me.
Do I classify myself as normal?
I ask you, what is normal? In my family, it seems normal to have one abnormality about you and I am normal because I am like other people. There are days when I find things so hard that I wish that my hands were normal and that my brain worked like everyone else’s, but then I think, would I still be me?
My dyspraxia helps to shape my personality and it makes me, me. It doesn’t stop me from passing my first semester at University and it doesn’t stop me from getting A’s in classes that I am good at even though they include written reports. It doesn’t stop me from seeming like everyone else and even if you have a quirk or something that makes you different, doesn’t mean you should too. These quirks are what make us who we are.
Dyspraxia can affect any or all areas of development – intellectual, emotional, physical, language, social and sensory – and may impair a person’s normal process of learning. Usually, it’s said to be an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement, but associated with this may be problems of language, perception and thought.
Problems arise in the process of forming ideas, motor planning and execution, since people with dyspraxia have poor understanding of the messages their senses convey and difficulty relating those messages to actions.
This means physical activities are hard to learn, difficult to keep, and hesitant and awkward in performance.
Dyspraxia affects each person in different ways and at different stages of development. How an individual is affected is inconsistent, too. For example, one day they may be able to do a specific task, the next day they can’t.
Developmental dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It is an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. The term dyspraxia comes from the word praxis, which means ‘doing, acting’. Dyspraxia affects the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought.
Dyspraxia is thought to affect up to ten per cent of the population and up to two per cent severely. Men are four times more likely to be affected than women. Dyspraxia sometimes runs in families. There may be an overlap with related conditions.
Other names for dyspraxia include Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), Perceptuo-Motor Dysfunction, and Motor Learning Difficulties. It used to be known as Minimal Brain Damage and Clumsy Child Syndrome.
Statistically, it is likely that there is one child in every class of 30 children. We need to make sure that everyone understands and knows how best to help this significant minority.
Gross motor co-ordination skills (large movements):
- Poor balance. Difficulty in riding a bicycle, going up and down hills (Couldn’t ride a bike till I was 15)
- Poor posture and fatigue. Difficulty in standing for a long time as a result of weak muscle tone. Floppy, unstable round the joints. Some people with dyspraxia may have flat feet (I have hypermobility)
- Poor integration of the two sides of the body. Difficulty with some sports involving jumping and cycling
- Poor hand-eye co-ordination. Difficulty with team sports especially those which involve catching a ball and batting. Difficulties with driving a car
- Lack of rhythm when dancing, doing aerobics
- Clumsy gait and movement. Difficulty changing direction, stopping and starting actions
- Exaggerated ‘accessory movements’ such as flapping arms when running
- Tendency to fall, trip, bump into things and people
Fine motor co-ordination skills (small movements):
- Lack of manual dexterity. Poor at two-handed tasks, causing problems with using cutlery, cleaning, cooking, ironing, craft work, playing musical instruments
- Poor manipulative skills. Difficulty with typing, handwriting and drawing. May have a poor pen grip, press too hard when writing and have difficulty when writing along a line
- Inadequate grasp. Difficulty using tools and domestic implements, locks and keys
- Difficulty with dressing and grooming activities, such as putting on makeup, shaving, doing hair, fastening clothes and tying shoelaces
Poorly established hand dominance:
- May use either hand for different tasks at different times
Speech and language:
- May talk continuously and repeat themselves. Some people with dyspraxia have difficulty with organising the content and sequence of their language
- May have unclear speech and be unable to pronounce some words
- Speech may have uncontrolled pitch, volume and rate
- Tracking. Difficulty in following a moving object smoothly with eyes without moving head excessively. Tendency to lose the place while reading
- Poor relocating. Cannot look quickly and effectively from one object to another (such as, looking from a TV to a magazine)
Perception (interpretation of the different senses):
- Poor visual perception
- Over-sensitive to light
- Difficulty in distinguishing sounds from background noise. Tendency to be over-sensitive to noise
- Over- or under-sensitive to touch. Can result in dislike of being touched and/or aversion to over-loose or tight clothing – tactile defensiveness
- Over- or under-sensitive to smell and taste, temperature and pain
- Lack of awareness of body position in space and spatial relationships. Can result in bumping into and tripping over things and people, dropping and spilling things
- Little sense of time, speed, distance or weight. Leading to difficulties driving, cooking
- Inadequate sense of direction. Difficulty distinguishing right from left means map reading skills are poor
Learning, thought and memory:
- Difficulty in planning and organising thought
- Poor memory, especially short-term memory. May forget and lose things
- Unfocused and erratic. Can be messy and cluttered
- Poor sequencing causes problems with maths, reading and spelling and writing reports at work
- Accuracy problems. Difficulty with copying sounds, writing, movements, proofreading
- Difficulty in following instructions, especially more than one at a time
- Difficulty with concentration. May be easily distracted
- May do only one thing at a time properly, though may try to do many things at once
- Slow to finish a task. May daydream and wander about aimlessly
Emotion and behaviour:
- Difficulty in listening to people, especially in large groups. Can be tactless, interrupt often. Problems with team work
- Difficulty in picking up non-verbal signals or in judging tone or pitch of voice in themselves and or others. Tendency to take things literally. May listen but not understand
- Slow to adapt to new or unpredictable situations. Sometimes avoids them altogether
- Impulsive. Tendency to be easily frustrated, wanting immediate gratification
- Tendency to be erratic and have ‘good and bad days’
- Tendency to opt out of things that are too difficult
Emotions as a result of difficulties experienced:
- Tend to get stressed, depressed and anxious easily
- May have difficulty sleeping
- Prone to low self-esteem, emotional outbursts, phobias, fears, obsessions, compulsions and addictive behaviour
The bold ones are all the ones that I have.
I don’t really think of this a demon, but it is something I worry about. Due to the fact that mine is genetic I do worry that my children will have it. I worry that they might be worse than me. I guess you can’t predict if you’re going to pass on any of your demons or not.
But anyway, let’s keep fighting those demons.