I was officially diagnosed around the age of 10 year old, extensive tests, scans and consultations to determine what was “wrong” with me.
As a child it’s daunting, you are going through things that other people your age are not, it’s important to remember that most people going through this now will remember these experiences their entire life, it’s how you adapt and with so much emphasis on mental health and well-being I hope to shed some light on my own experiences to achieve 2 things; 1. To give young people a chance to see they are not alone in how they feel and 2. To create an understanding for parents of just what their children are going through.
So with any story we start at the beginning, the first signs of my conditions raised their head in the early stages of my education, teachers attributing my lack of focus to “being slow” and with “no desire to learn” labels like that even detrimental to 6 year old’s confidence, with a low capacity to challenge those perceptions you live and own those labels, falling into a rut.
PARENTS’ EVENING WARNING
The first warning sign to my parents coming in the form of a parent’s evening, a teacher telling them “his greatest achievement will be being able to read and write his own name” this for me is the turning point, there are two reactions that can be invoked from this kind of statement, acceptance or defiance, for me, my parents chose defiance I still remember nights at the kitchen table practicing using stencils and templates, reading books, all part of a bigger picture that young me failed to see, frustration at it’s best, not what I wanted but definitely what I needed.
Stick with me on this next one because it’s unbelievable how much of an impact on you something as small as a pen can have. Don’t quote me on this one but I think I was in year 4 at the time, age 10 or so, when children’s hand writing had developed enough they would let you start writing in pen, I still remember the exact pen, a dark red Berol handwriting pen, my lack of coordination once more leaving me behind, still using pencil almost a whole year after the first pen given out. Now the anxiety starts, the clear divide and separation an invisible problem now visible to your peers, you’re not one of your peers anymore, you’re different.
This became a constant theme throughout my education, academically up to speed but always struggling. The visibility of my Dyspraxia faded once more, becoming a chameleon to everyone else, the divide now in my own head, that was until the exam period, worries that my illegible writing would cost me valuable marks, moved into the aptly named “special group” a room full of laptops in which extra time was assigned, reading assistance is provided, it’s again not what you want but definitely needed. Once more you feel different, judged, alienated, every part of your mind says to you why can’t I be like everyone else, be in the hall at those flimsy folding desks, pen in hand surrounded by everyone else, it’s a lose lose situation in your head, you want to do well but you want to be with everyone else.
I still think about those situations from time to time, those things made me the person I am today, they built the foundation of my character, the development of the “tell me I can’t and watch me do it” attitude I proudly sport today.
NOW AND THE FUTURE
At 24 years of age now, I have a family, a stable and promising career, you can’t help the life hand that life deals you, you can however influence your attitude, your approach and the support you have around you, I thankfully had the right support in place to guide me to the path I’m on today, I may not have appreciated at the time but I sure as hell do now, many of you will read this and be able to draw many comparisons to your own journeys, many Dyspraxics live this day to day, have it to come or have been through it themselves, I hope my story achieved what I set out for it to do.