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10 AWKWARD MOMENTS I’M BLAMING ON MY DYSPRAXIA

1.

 In the years before I had a clue what Dyspraxia was, my twin brother commented as I munched on a sandwich. He said I was eating it with the concentration and focus of someone trying to dismantle a bomb. To the untrained eye, there’s not much that goes into eating a BLT. To me, however, there are so many things to consider…a) coordinating the mouth to ensure you are doing what your mum always taught you – eat with your mouth closed.

b) eat quietly

c) keep a good grip of sandwich not so firm that you squeeze all the filling out onto the table and not too delicate that you drop it onto a lap.

d) no crumbs

 

Which brings me to awkward moment number one – eating in public. Add in the multitude of questions like:

a) how long SHOULD it take to eat a sandwich.

b) are the people around me judging how fast or slowly I chew.

c) Do I make eye contact and laugh at jokes going on around me. Will attempt to do this mean I lose control and choke on a quaver?

 

2.

I went through primary and secondary school many millennia before chip and pin, contactless and banking apps were around. After school on a Friday, it would be ‘sweets day’. The good old days when penny sweets actually cost a penny and a tin of Roses would do a family of 8 and last beyond Boxing Day. What this meant is coins. Coins and maths and worst of all handling coins. Awkward moment number to for me is taking change from a shop assistant without letting a coin slip between two fingers. Even today at 32 I’ll throw out a hand to receive my change in awkward anticipation of whether I’ll catch my prize. Eye contact with the shop assistant, smile, say thank you and catch the change all at once? Seriously? I’m not superman!

3.

 Awkward situation number 2, sorry, I mean 3! Forgetting what I’ve just said. It happens a lot to me. When I’m talking in full flow I’m having to concentrate so hard on selecting the right words. Word selection and picking words out of the ether, phrasing things in the right order, pronouncing words clearly and at the right speed and volume, then there’s eye contact, smiling at the right points, background noise, fresh ideas jumping into my head, all this is a recipe for me to forget what I’ve just said. This equally applies to forgetting where I left my keys, forgetting verbal instructions too but for me at least, forgetting what I’ve just said feels the most awkward. I’m not losing my train of thought because I’m not concentrating- I’m probably concentrating more than 10 people combined.

 

4.

 Being asked a question. See above but add in the fact it takes me slightly longer to process the question so an umm and errr is likely to fall out my mouth , my capacity to take a question quite literally and then throw in all those things like talking clearly, remembering what I’m saying and add it all together makes me being as ANY question a tad awkward even if I know the answer.

 

* This post is sponsored by Cadbury’s Roses***

 

Ahem, sorry to interrupt. This brings me to number 5.

5.

Awkward in the extreme and common for me. Interjecting in group conversations. In other words, knowing when someone in the group is coming to an end of their point and when it’s your turn to start speaking. It’s all in the timing and the number of times I’ve accidentally interrupted someone, I lose count. This does not mean I ‘lack social skills’ or I’m on the ‘autistic spectrum’ – I’m not. My sense of timing is just out because my brain is doing battle with a million thoughts and considerations. Now count me in 3.2.1. Go.

6.

Awkward moment number 6. I call this awkward, to the recipient it’s more painful.   Daily dalliances with London Underground rush hour means that I’ve come quite adept at manoeuvring out of the way of the oncoming stampede of suits and briefcases, one thing I still struggle with is walking in a pack. I’m always accidentally kicking the heels of the person stood in front of me which normally earns me an unimpressed glare. I’ll add here another commuting dual where someone is coming directly towards me and I have absolutely no idea if they are planning or going left or right. I’ve never actually clattered into someone (yet) but it’s always a daily dance we do.

7.

 Awkward moment number 7. This was more an issue when I was at uni and was young enough to be seen in a nightclub. Fatigue. You get the picture by now that dealing with Dyspraxic traits can take a lot of effort and energy. I distinctly remember telling my housemates I’d hurt my back attempting a standing ovation-earning breakdance (or that’s how I remembered it) Truth is I was absolutely knackered. Making an excuse to go home early. Awkward.

 

8.

3 o’clock! 3 o’clock! We’ve all heard it. The plea from the friend next to you to look around all so subtly at someone or something without being noticed. A few issues here. Instantly throw up an image in your head of a clock face, remember left from right. Now here’s the clincher. It’s the occasional Dyspraxic trait that’s so seemingly inconsequential and random that you never really consider it an issue. Visual tracking. That’s holding your head dead still and scrolling your eyes from left to right as if to scan a room. I can’t do it. I HAVE to move my head. All this adds up to the least smooth and least subtle attempt at being subtle. Then I get caught. Awkward!

9.

Sometimes life calls on you to do one of those things that the rest of the world can do in their sleep but I struggle with. Recently I watching sat in the crowd at Wembley cheering on my football team of choice. A chant broke out and suddenly 40,000 men, women and children were all clapping along to a song. Cue awkward. According to one 90’s club anthem, ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’. I never understood what that meant but whatever rhythm is, we don’t get on. Out of sync with everyone else and looking around feeling just a tad awkward. My team lost that day. I’m not accepting blame!

10.

For the last point, Pete wanted a bit of help, so I’m Ryan and here’s my contribution.

Sorry, what is Dyspraxia? Is it like Dyslexia? Well no, not at all.

We have touched on social awkwardness so much in this article, which says a lot about how awkward we can feel in social situations.

One particular thing that I personally find to be a struggle is explaining Dyspraxia to someone who is either completely unaware of what it is or has a completely wrong idea of what it is.

Now I’m confident in my own experience and research on Dyspraxia, I’ve done my dissertation an audio documentary on the subject so if I had time for a presentation, I could cover a lot about Dyspraxia and the needs of people with Dyspraxia particularly in school and college.

With all that, I’d only be scratching the surface of Dyspraxia.

So how could I explain in a 2-minute conversation or even less Dyspraxia really is.

Also, take into account previous points Pete made in this article particularly with stumbling on conversations and oftentimes the result becomes a rushed mess that:

 

a. Does not help the person understand Dyspraxia anymore than they did previously

and

b. Makes me look like I don’t understand Dyspraxia at all.

I understand that a lot of people have never heard of Dyspraxia, which is why amazing people such as our contributors, our commenters and our readers do what we do.

It is a hidden thing that needs more awareness and reading this article and even sharing it can help make more people aware of it.

So next time someone asks you what Dyspraxia is and you feel like you’re at a loss, you’re not alone, it’s not easy an easy disability to explain from beginning to end.

Did we miss something?

Please let us know if there is an awkward moment you have with Dyspraxia that we did not mention, we always love hearing new contributions!

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Pete Guest

Pete Guest

Pete launched Dyspraxia & Life in October 2018 after discovering a community of people online just like him with voices to be heard and stories to be told. He was born premature with his twin and weighed 1.5lbs after his placenta stopped working and began starving in the womb. Despite his parents' best efforts to get him assessed for Dyspraxia in primary school, no one would listen and was told he would 'catch up'. Pete remains un-assessed. Pete is 32 and lives in Essex, recently wed and lives with wife and his very mischievous but ever-so cute dog Ted.

2 thoughts on “10 AWKWARD MOMENTS I’M BLAMING ON MY DYSPRAXIA

  1. I can definitely identify with all of these. I often think, when I’m visiting London, that the Underground would be great, if t weren’t for all the people. I mean, it’s logically laid out, there are maps, and signs and all everywhere, but there’s never any time or space to stop and consider them, or take a breath and work out where you need to be. The funny thing is, I do reckon that living with Dyspraxia makes people far more aware of what they’re doing which could inconvenience people nearby: we’ve effectively been trained for years to do it to avoid crashing into people/things/shop displays/walls/rampaging children; the rest of the population just never seem to think about it.

    And shopping, yes. Particularly if more than one bag is involved: no matter how carefully you plan in advance, and lay out the items on the conveyor belt, by the time they’re scanned and getting back to you, you can bet you’ll be racing like mad to get the right thing in the right bag, which won’t stay upright, or open, or in the right order. Meanwhile the till assistant is asking if you want to pay by card or cash, and the queue’s growing and tutting…

    What else? Shoe laces on social occasions. You go for an evening at friends, they’ve just got new carpets, so you take off your shoes… How come it always takes so much longer to untie and tie shoelaces when there are friends/others watching? Thank God for slip ins and Velcro, but that not much use if for example, you’re wearing a suit…. I remember once I had to have a work meeting with a colleague and an accountant, his client, and their lawyer at the accountant’s home office: “Oh would you mind taking off your shoes,” says the accountant “my wife has a thing about dirt in on the floors…”. Absolutely mortifying; and the more you try to speed up, the worse things get… Honestly, I’ve been robustly cross-examined in Crown Court for hours on end, and that was more pleasant than those long seconds fumbling with laces that wouldn’t do what they were supposed to.

    One more thing: crossing roads. How far away is that car? How fast is it going? It’d be interesting (and I suspect depressing) to see if anyone’s done a study to see how many people who are hit by cars, trucks, buses and bikes have dyspraxia. I’ll go out of my way to find a pedestrian crossing, and then look a lemon waiting for traffic to come to a complete stop, because too many near misses have taught me that just because someone should stop on a red light doesn’t mean they will, and I can’t tell if they are stopping until they have done. I was doing some work in Italy a couple of years ago, and that was even worse: not only did the drivers there have very interesting ideas about speed, and what to do at traffic lights, of course as they drive on the other side of the road, everything was coming from the opposite direction that I was expecting. “It’s alright,” explained a German colleague with all seriousness “All you need to do is make eye contact with the driver, and stare them down as you cross the road…” . Yeah. Not easy.

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