My name is Amy and I am an in the closet dyspraxic. I tried to make a little joke there, but it probably did not land as I am not very good at making jokes. This article is about education, my education and how dyspraxia will influence (I believe for the better) my PGCE year.
Throughout my whole education I have struggled, not just physically but mentally. I have always felt behind. When I was a toddler I was diagnosed with global development delay. I did not learn to walk until after my second birthday and I did not learn to speak until around 3 and a half. I attended nursery at my local school and I still faintly remember learning some BSL (British Sign Language). What I did not realise was, the sign language was for me! I was not speaking so all of the children including myself was learning to sign as everybody was starting to think I would never speak. However, one thing I will say about myself is, I never want people to help me, I want to do things for myself as much as I can. As soon as they started teaching us BSL, I decided I was having none of it and started speaking to everybody’s shock. I also did the same at the child development centre, they were planning to put exercises in place, so I could learn to walk. They told my parents to come back next week, so strategies could be put in to place, but on that very evening I walked across the kitchen floor. My parents cried with shock and elation.
Whilst, I was diagnosed with global development delay, nobody had ever thought of dyspraxia. Even though I am only 23, it was practically unheard of when I was a child, so the school did not assess me for it. In reception through to year 3 I was assigned a 1-1 teaching assistant who I still occasionally keep in touch with now. She was extremely supportive. She helped me cut paper and write and just generally do things that everybody else takes for granted. In reception I also had special equipment as my muscles were so weak, when I would write with a pencil, nothing would show on the paper. I knew how to do it and I was doing it, but nothing would show.
I had some extremely supportive teachers. Miss R was my teacher in reception and she was fantastic. She really cared. She regularly bought games and activities out of her own money to help my dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
Whilst my previous teachers will influence my practice. I think for me; the key influence will be the bullying I have faced and my own slow start to feeling competent in education. I am not going to discuss the bullying I faced in secondary school in this article as that will be included in a different article.
Instead I am going to talk about dyspraxic bullying. I have called it that as it is a type of bullying that other children would not even think about or realising it is happening. Whilst, I did get called pig face every lunchtime for a month or so in year 2, this is not what I mean. Instead I mean the feeling of loneliness and failure and this type of bullying was prominent in every PE lesson I faced, in primary and in secondary. I do not even know if it should be called bullying as like any employer, you want to select the best for your team, but I do not know what else to call it. People recall horrific moments of being picked last for the team in PE but imagine how it feels to not even be picked, the moment when the teacher blows the whistle, both teams run off to play and you have to ‘slink off’ and blend in to the game because you were never picked. You were never wanted. I could not even blame them, why would anybody pick the girl who could not hit a ball, catch a ball, bowl somebody out or score a goal. However, the whole thing that annoys me is that nobody else has to go through the same humiliation. You do not pick teams for English or for maths. You do not work in teams of 5 to see how quickly maths problems can be solved so why did I have to go through the humiliation for having poor dexterity and hand-eye coordination?
I am unsure if I will pass my teaching year, I am unsure if I will pursue teaching as my ultimate career. However, one thing I am sure of is no child will get bullied in my class. No child will be left out. If it is obvious a child is left out in PE, that child will be the captain next time. I want all children to feel loved, to have self-worth. I do not want a child to recall their school days with humiliation because they could not kick a ball or bowl somebody out. All of us are wonderful and talented individuals and while my dyspraxia means I am rubbish at sport, I know I have many wonderful qualities that people with dyspraxia tend to share. I am empathetic to people’s situations, I care strongly about others and I am a highly determined individual. To my fellow pupils, do not feel discouraged because you find writing physically challenging or you feel like you need a lie down after a precise cutting task because one day you could find yourself graduating with a first class degree and going from the child who needed intense levels of support to opening a letter inviting you to an interview from Cambridge University. To all of my pupils, I hope I can give you the confidence, so you can realise you will achieve, not can but WILL.