Diving Into Dyspraxia
Dyspraxia is a form of Developmental Coordination Disorder which affects fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It can also have an impact on speech. There is no cure at present.
I have never really been told when it all started for me. So this article touches upon some of the challenges Dyspraxia presents along with the impact they had on me as a child, prior to my diagnosis at the age of eighteen.
Please remember that the condition affects people in different ways. With that in mind let us begin.
Gross Motor Skills
Many with Dyspraxia will have some problems with gross motor skills. These skills are ones that use large muscles to create body movements for example walking, running and maintaining balance.
I have often found playing sports like athletics and football a real difficulty. This was a particular issue each year at primary school when we had Sports Day. We were all required to take part in games like throwing beanbags into hula-hoops and had to enter into running races. Often I would miss the hoop or not win the race, but I still tried despite there being some disappointment.
Schools should give students a choice of what events they would like to take part in. It is not correct to force anyone into something they may not have the self-confidence to do. Teachers, families and friends need to give this support so those with the condition have the self-esteem to perform any games they would like to take part in.
|See if you can spot me in this photograph on Sports Day in July 2005|
Fine Motor Skills
Similarly those with Dyspraxia generally have problems with fine motor skills. These involve small muscle movements, such as using cutlery, handwriting and playing musical instruments.
These do impact me in everyday life. It can be frustrating not being able to do something the first time. I remember trying to learn how to tie my shoelaces on holiday just before my eleventh birthday. Before this I would always wear shoes with velcro straps. My parents would show me how to tie the laces but my mind just could not get around to doing it properly. The loop was either too small, way too big, or the laces would not fit together.
Over time I gradually got the hang of tying shoelaces. I will admit that even now I do have occasional problems with them. They often do come loose after a while. Still I am glad to have learnt. So it is important to have someone patient teaching you because it will take time. Then again there is nothing wrong with having velcro straps or slip on shoes if you just simply cannot get it. What is important is feeling good about yourself no matter which option you pick.
Those with Dyspraxia generally have a lack of awareness of their body position. This can result in bumping into, tripping over or spilling things.
Since I could crawl I would often bang myself into objects around the room causing an ‘egg bump’ on my head. This clumsiness still follows me now. It is amazing the amount of objects that I have dropped, broken, spilt or bumped into.
Interestingly is that it is believed that many do have a good sense of humour. So if you ever see one of us fall over or drop something you may find us laughing about it afterwards. Well, as long as we were not badly hurt or that object was not worth a fortune.
It can be quite difficult to form relationships. There may be isolation within the peer group or those with Dyspraxia may unfortunately be rejected by others because of their differences. Those with the disability may sometimes misinterpret what someone is trying to say or how that person is feeling, which could cause alienation.
Of course this is not always the cause. Those with the condition often display positive attributes such as being kind, empathetic and forgiving. It is these which often shine through and help build close bonds with those around them.
It did take me quite a while to find people I wanted to be friends with. Still they are there no matter the troubles I may be facing and I cannot thank them enough.
Speech, Language and Words
Those living with the condition may experience issues with speech, language or words, either in the form of talking or writing. Organising, planning and proofreading can also be affected.
Throughout primary school I hated English and would often get low grades. Because of this my secondary school placed me and a few others in something called ‘Learning Support’. Instead of learning a second language, like French or German, we spent the time improving our literary skills. Thanks to the utter dedication of the staff during those three years I began to enjoy the subject and my grades increased. Now I am studying English Literature and Creative Writing at university.
Of course I still have difficulties, but those dedicated people helped me to thoroughly like English, which is something I would have struggled with otherwise.
This ‘Good Luck’ card was kindly given to me by the Learning Support staff on leaving secondary school
It would seem that Dyspraxia has been present right throughout my childhood. It is a lifelong condition, but with continual support from loving and non-judgemental people hopefully those with the disability will gain the confidence to thrive and flourish in society. Remember these people are not only Dyspraxic but they can also be fantastic.