Coping mechanisms Dyspraxic traits Education

My Dyspraxia Development

I’m going to talk about my experiences of dyspraxia during
two very different periods of my life.

The first period was when I was at boarding school in
The 1970s.

The school placed a lot of emphasis on the sport which
was a nightmare for me. My physical coordination is
appalling. My inability to move my hands and legs into the
right positions made PE lessons impossible. My attempts to
climb ropes in the gym were farcical.

Cricket was my favourite sport but this didn’t make any
difference; I was still useless. I knew where to place my bat
to hit the ball hard, but the instructions that my brain sent
to my hands were faulty. I kept failing and feeling

Another problem was my handwriting. I have to admit
that it’s atrocious. At school, I was told that I would never
get anywhere unless people could read my writing. I was
sent for remedial lessons to an irascible chemistry teacher,
who made me write pages of italic letters with a big pencil
with a very flat lead. Why? It made no difference.

Luckily, the introduction of computers helped me. I no longer have to
write if I don’t want to.
In 2017, when I’d reached the age of 57, there was a
positive development. Through a friend who has dyslexia,
I learnt about dyspraxia. When I first read the list of its
typical indications, I thought that’s me. It was a
revelation. I immediately recognised that I suffer from
many of the problems that are common with dyspraxia,
for instance, my personal organisation at work. I have to
manage large quantities of fast-changing information and
this is very challenging.

Working out priorities and sticking to them is really difficult.

I’m good at starting tasks
and very poor at finishing them. My typing is messy and I
can’t see my mistakes. Sometimes I miss out whole words
even though my brain tells me I’ve typed them.
On a hot day last summer I had an assessment with an
occupational therapist. This clearly confirmed that I have

Work has given a lot of support including mind mapping,
text-to-speech and speech-to-text software.

IT is great for helping me organise myself. I now prioritise my to-do
list using a mind map, with all my tasks colour -coded. It
only takes a few seconds to see what I’m meant to be doing

The bright colours make the tasks seem more, friendly, and less of a threat.
I have also received free coaching. As well as helping me
with practical issues, my coach has encouraged me to
come to terms with my diagnosis.

She wants me to focus on my strengths rather than what I can’t do.
Anxiety has plagued me throughout my life. Partly this is
because I can’t do many things that normal people can. I
hope that my new knowledge of dyspraxia will help me
realise that not all my failures are my fault.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your experience Ian. My 12 year old daughter also has dyspraxia and I recognise so much of what you have described in her – including the feeling of being useless and the anxiety and depression that accompanies that.


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Ian was diagnosed with dyspraxia in 2018, aged 57. He was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder a few years earlier. Ian lives in Croydon in south London and works as a civil servant
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