There is no question that dyspraxia in childhood poses significant challenges.
These challenges can range from seemingly constant tumbles due to misjudging a step, to the more complex issues including sleeping problems, weakened immune system, anxiety and sensory processing issues.
In addition to the above, making and keeping friends can be an issue due to difficulties interpreting tone of voice, sarcasm, facial expressions, and unintentionally interrupting your peers.
School work can suffer due to difficulties with taking down notes from the blackboard in a timely manner and handwriting can be very difficult to decipher, depending on the severity of the handwriting issues.
As a child, upon diagnosis of dyspraxia, there is access to essential resources such as occupational therapy, which is a fantastic resource aimed at trying to improve fine and gross motor skills. For those not familiar, some typical exercises undertaken in an occupational therapy session for a child might include hopping on one foot, throwing and catching a ball, painting in a straight line, pouring, jumping and practicing tying shoelaces etc.
However, once you reach adulthood, certainly in Ireland anyway, your immediate access to resources such as occupational therapy stops.
To date, I haven’t found an adult occupational therapy option that didn’t come with an astronomical cost.
Adults with dyspraxia face different challenges than children with dyspraxia.
While those who were lucky enough, including myself, to have had early intervention in childhood may have had significant improvements in the areas of fine motor and gross motor skills, there is also the social and emotional element to dyspraxia.
Adults with dyspraxia can face many challenges in the work place, due to organisational skills, or lack thereof! Once you hit the age of adulthood there is nobody to talk to about the challenges one may face in the work place, driving or moving out of home for the first time.
There is nobody there to help you with coping mechanisms on a sensory overload day, because as an adult it is no longer socially acceptable to stand covering ones ears because the kettle is boiling too loudly or somebody’s cutlery is making too much noise, or the people on the bus are talking too loudly. People with dyspraxia can experience great difficulties with emotional regulation and it is so difficult to explain that to somebody for fear of being branded an attention seeker.
There is nobody there to talk you through things that come naturally to most adults and to help make tasks such as putting on makeup easier, or budgeting, making sure clothes are not stained or creased, or how to survive your first month of moving out of home, as an adult with dyspraxia.
I am part of a fantastic support group on social media which is primarily aimed at being a parental support group but I was allowed in to the group and the parents say that my experiences have helped them and give them hope. I really would love for there to be more support for adults. There is a saying “If there is a book that you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it yourself.”
So perhaps if an adult focused support system cannot be found, maybe one needs to look at taking their own experiences and successful coping mechanisms as an adult with dyspraxia and use that knowledge themselves to help younger adults facing the same issues.