THE ‘DSYPRAXIC HELP 4 U’ COLUMN #1
My name is Billy a 30-year-old from Kent, I was first diagnosed with Dyspraxia as a child in 1994, which resulted in provisions being made at school such as being supported by the Special Educational Needs (SEN) team and receiving help from teaching assistants.
I grew up in not the best of circumstances and endured plenty of trials and tribulation. I try not to dwell on the past if I can help it but I strongly feel that my disruptive upbringing didn’t hold me in good stead.
My recollection of my adolescent years was that I was always forever covered in bruises from accidently injuring myself in collisions with door frames and furniture, persistently tripping over my own shoelaces, endlessly breaking things from being heavy handed due to a misperception of not knowing my own strength and repeatedly finding my voice being drowned out by my peers and the topic discussed cut out mid-conversation in favour of something different by somebody else.
Throughout my schooling I do not recall my intelligence questioned or other underlying issues being raised. In fact, I do not remember anybody ever mentioning the word ‘dyspraxia’ at any point until I proceeded to look at the reasons for why I am perceived to be different to other people. I was forever being sent to the ‘Exclusion Zone’ to sit among the unruly students for being ‘hard to teach’ as one teacher put it, so missed out on a lot of time studying alongside with my peers in the classroom. Being excluded from most of my lessons and banished led to me growing up in social isolation and away from the friends that I had made in classes.
The condition throughout my formative years went pretty much unmentioned both at home and at school. Incidentally, the only lesson where help was not forthcoming when I could have done with it most was during PE. My co-ordination issues ran amok and led to grave embarrassment in front of my peers at a time in my life when I just wanted to be accepted and join in with a free mind.
In 2007 I was diagnosed with ‘Severe Fatigue’ which culminated in me dropping out of college earlier than I planned for, however I still passed the diploma that I had worked so hard to get.
It was as I entered my 20’s that I struggled most with my developmental coordination issues as it began to hinder me in respects to my career and in the workplace. Having managed to conceal my disability long enough, I eventually ran out of ways to hide the difficulties I endured daily and had to come clean and admit to having Dyspraxia. Sadly, for me my working life was not the same after the confession took place. As a matter of fact, I had hesitated in revealing my childhood diagnosis due to the reaction I got in a previous role elsewhere that led to me being discriminated against and bullied. The same unfortunately happened again.
As I approached the back end of my 20’s I came to a conclusion with my family that the best way forward for me was to try and get an adult diagnosis for Dyspraxia so that it would help me better understand the reasons why I am the way I am and to help employers know how best to handle me. That sadly had to be done privately at cost to us but needed to be done.
It was whilst reading through the assessment that I discovered that I was also ‘Dyslexic’ and have a high IQ score. It was then put to me to get tested for ADHD for which I have been told I have got.
During the Summer of 2019 it occurred to me that whilst people were advocating for awareness of the disability, nobody was advocating to promote what help and entitlements you could possibly get for it. I came up with ‘Dyspraxic Help 4U’ with the intention of discovering hidden opportunities for those with hidden disabilities. Entitlements that were previously only open for those with other neurological disorders could be applied for by Dyspraxics, given you knew what to say and do to get it.
On the back of my social media campaigns, people with Dyspraxia (eligibility and local council criteria differs) have been able to apply/ask for and in most cases receive ‘Blue Badges’, ‘Bus Passes’, ‘Disability Persons Railcards’, ‘Cinema Companion Cards’, ‘Council Tax’ reductions, ‘Warm Home Discounts’ from energy suppliers, ‘Water Bill Discounts’, ‘Free Companion Tickets’ to Premier League and Football League clubs, ‘Free Companion Cards’ for the National Trust and so much more!
Better still I have knowledge of how best to deal with DLA/PIP appeals and decisions, with many of my followers learning how to obtain ‘Report Assessments’, how to collate the right evidence to support an application and challenge ‘Final Decisions’.
With ‘Dyspraxic Help 4U’ going forward I have ambitions to start a regular Podcast and YouTube channel. I lack much in the way of creativity and technical ability and am always on the lookout for fellow Dyspraxic’s to get on-board to assist and/or collaborate with me.
In June/July of 2020 I began guest hosting Zoom meetings for Dyspraxic Circle and have since started a local group ‘Dyspraxic Circle – Kent whereby I will be the coordinator. We have had our first Zoom meeting prior to eventually meeting in person.
I feel the ever growing community of Dyspraxic’s online is empowering and that the tide is slowly but surely turning for the better, we are not alone as we battle for equality and acceptance from society.
You can follow Billy and Dyspraxic Help 4 U on Twitter @DyspraxicHelp4U