Discovery Support groups

DISCOVERING THE JOY OF MEETING FELLOW DYSPRAXICS

Growing up with dyspraxia can be a very lonely place at times – particularly if you grew up in a time where it was almost unheard of or you were the only one among your peers who had it.

It was my, as I am sure countless others’, experience that there was an endless amount of support for parents of children who had dyspraxia but once you reached the age of eighteen there were no support groups for adults who had dyspraxia – at least none that I could find.
I can’t discount the fabulous support that Harry from Dyspraxia Ireland gave, and still gives, me from the beginning of my adulthood up to the present day and giving me continuous guidance along the way.
Nevertheless, I still felt (and very much still do) very out of place – like I don’t belong, like I don’t fit in anywhere and longing to meet someone who just understood exactly how it felt.
When I saw that there was a conference on in Birmingham in October 2019 for adults who have dyspraxia, my first thought was “I wish something like this could happen over here because I would love to attend”.   Then I remembered that I was a big girl with a job and earning my own money – so with a few minutes of ping-ponging between “Will I?” “Won’t I?”, I decided that I would, and booked my flights and ticket before I lost my courage.
The morning of the conference arrived and I was very nervous.  Was I doing the right thing? What if I got lost – I had never been to Birmingham before and my mother had unintentionally succeeded in making me terrified about the train station.
But I got to the airport and managed to board the right flight.
The weather that day was awful and so, ironically, despite travelling from another country, I was first there.  I was very nervous to begin with but then I was met by two very friendly people at the check in desk who made me feel so welcome and handed me a name badge with my full name on it and where I was from and I felt like I belonged.
Then everybody started arriving and I started overhearing conversations and I thought “I belong, these people sound exactly like me”.
I met some people who I had been speaking with online and it was great to finally meet Pete who, by setting up Dyspraxia and Life Magazine, had given me a voice and an outlet to express myself to people who would understand.
Being at the conference was incredibly emotional and very special.  For the first time in my life I felt like I fit in and that I belonged and wasn’t the odd one out.
Nobody batted an eye lid when I spilled my milk on the floor or spilled crumbs of pastry – because they were doing it too.  All the speakers understood that people who have dyspraxia have great difficulty with concentration and listening for longer than a few minutes at a time.  We were given permission to get up and walk around and stretch and fidget as many times as we wanted or need – that was so lovely – they understood.
The conference helped me to develop a better understanding of why I become fatigued so easily and why I experience burn out.  It helped me realise why I experience low self esteem, depression and anxiety.
What struck me was the thought and effort that went into the day.
There were information leaflets about learning to drive when you have dyspraxia, tips for managing finances when you move out of home for the first time, tips on being organised in the workplace, tips for managing sleep, anger, stress and anxiety.
They had thought of everything.
It was wonderful to see such a huge emphasis on mental health.  There is so much emphasis on dyspraxia being primarily to do with coordination – people don’t realise how it can affect your mental health and self-esteem.
By far the most emotional part of the day was hearing a few people share their real life experiences about their struggles with jobs.  I got a massive lump in my throat because that one cut close to the bone – but then I look around the room and saw everyone else nodding in agreement and realised they all had the exact same struggles when it came to working life.
When the conference was over I sat with a few of the people who I had met from support groups.  We had a drink before we headed off to the train station and the airport.
I flew back home that evening with a sense of hope, confidence and happiness – I belonged.
Nothing can ever put a price on that feeling.
Having gone to the adult conference in Birmingham, I really want something like that to happen over here in Ireland and if I ever came into some money it would be one of the first things that I did – give the adults with dyspraxia a sense of the belonging that I felt.
I’d definitely go back, no question.
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10 COMMENTS

  1. Fantastic read. Very relatable and informative. Keep up the great work, it’s inspired me to look into traveling across the water to an adult conference. Thanks

  2. Thank you for your article. It sounds like a truly wonderful experience. I’m the mother of a son with dyspraxia and I would appreciate any of the tips on sleep management and fatigue. At the end of almost every school day he tells me how tired he is (he’s 7) and sometimes I feel so helpless as I don’t know what I can do to help him. It doesn’t help that, as with every 7 year old, he never wants to go to bed earlier!

    • Haha yeah they can never understand that you are actually helping them by asking them to go to bed earlier!

      With regards to fatigue – breaks in between tasks helps – even in work I have to take even a two to three minute break after every three or four letters I type to get my brain working again!

      With regards to sleep management, this is something I still struggle with daily. Sometimes I will watch synchronised swimming on YouTube and the pattern relaxes my brain and helps me go to sleep. Other times I will spell a word in my head and then spell it backwards until I fall asleep. X so sorry for delay in getting back to you with this message!

  3. Thanks Sophie. Regarding support groups, I run a support group in West London for people with dyspraxia. Details can be provided for those who want them.

  4. I wish I had been diagnosed before the conference and not afterwards! I really want to go to the next one but it’s in Newcastle I believe, which is the order end of the country for me. I live in Surrey and so would be lots of travelling on trains.

  5. I note the Newcastle event is now postponed until further notice. The Dyspraxia Foundation usually have an AGM conference usually held in London. This years will likely be delayed but worth looking ahead to 2021

  6. Great piece of writing
    I am too a fellow Irish dyspraxia adult and I didn’t even know there was theses online sights until my welsh colleague shared it on Facebook. Hopefully some day Ireland will host one too.

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Sophie Goldsbury
Sophie is a legal secretary and lives in Dublin, Ireland. She was diagnosed with dyspraxia in childhood.
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