Firstly a huge thank you to everyone who read my last blog it means a lot to me, I hope it has helped some of you out there. The lovely Natalie has written a blog 10 things not to say to a dyspraxic which can be found here https://theblogwithonepost.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/10-things-not-to-say-to-someone-with-dyspraxia/ a lot of the points were ones that either myself or my family had experienced. I thought I would write a follow on blog about things or actions to say to someone who has a hidden condition. If you know someone who has a hidden condtion sometimes it can be hard what to say without wanting to judge someone or sound really patronising or sometimes it's easy to be a little ignorant towards these conditions without even realising. As I've said many times in my blogs it's time we got talking about them and making them less of a taboo. Some of these points might seem like little things, but honestly from the perspective of someone who has hidden conditions can be great, it means there's a less chance of mistakes and things happening, less anxiety allround both for the person who has the hidden conditions and everyone else, and hopfully a knock on effect on self esteerm, self worth, confidence, attainment and acheivement and everyone ends up happier- and that's all good isn't it. Some of these points may be more actions than actual things to say.
1. See past the label
It's so important to see the whole person not just the difficulties someone is struggling with, a lot of people spend their lives having to have a lot of assessments etc done where the label is talked about a lot. See past that, get to know the person for who they are it might suprise you, you'll find they might have more in common than you think. There's so many positives of having a hidden condition such as creativity, seeing the bigger picture, being able to see things other people also often very loyal and understanding. Try to focus on those rather than what someone might struggle with, having a hidden condition doesn't mean someone is odd or weird they just sometimes see things in a different way and surely having more different views is a really good thing especially in the workplace.
2. Plan Ahead
If you have a friend who has organisation/memory difficulties try and plan ahead if you're going to events. Things are more likely to go right then wrong and the impact of spaghetti head is much less reduced. A lot of people who have an organisation problem hate spontaniouty they like routine so they know what's happening them. Take a little bit more time with them explain trains and routes, talk about where you will be going and maybe describe in a visual form. Do not suddenlly tell someone they're going out 10 minuites beforehand or all chaos will break out. A little bit of undertanding really can make all the difference when it comes to organisation. If you know someone who is always late ( why are you all thinking of me?!) maybe text them the night before to remind them of what time they need to be at a certain place for.
3. Treat someone like an adult/young person
Be careful what language you use so you don't say when you want to help someone in a patronising way. A lot of people with hidden conditions don't like a lot of attention and fuss drawn to their issues and don't wan't to be "looked after" again it comes back to seeing past the condition or label think how you would like to be treated yourself.
4. Would you like to use a computer/ additional technology?
If there's any way someone can use a computer let them, if you can see someone really struggles with handwriting don't make a mockery out of them and act like they don't care, as well with spelling mistakes if you know someone is dyslexic don't make a huge deal out of spelling mistakes focus on what the message is said not the spelling, instead focus on something which they can do and a lot of people with hidden computers are very good with computers and can be a great asset. Also ask if a different working environment would be better e.g less noise, open the windows etc.
5.Would you like me to do your hair/makeup/nails for you?
More for the females out there, but if you have a friend who struggles with fine motor skills why not have a girly pamper day and offer to do their make- up or nails for them and make them feel good about themselves. Eyeliner can be especially difficult for fine motor problems- your eye ends up being poked a lot. In return they could maybe do something for you which you like doing.
6. How are you?
Such a simple question but a lot of people with hidden conditions and anxiety can find new situations quite stressful, if you know someone like that, why not take the time to properly get to know them ask a few simple questions, compliment them, as they feel more relaxed in the situation. Sometimes when things aren't ok it can be the little things which really do matter.
7. Try not to leave people out
Being friends with someone with a hidden condition can be quite stressful sometimes I'd be lieing if I didn't say that, but try and encoperate some of the tips in this blog to your nights out/social situations/classrooms and see if they help at all, with a little bit of understanding someone with a hidden condition can come out of their shell and really show who they are. If someone gets quiet in big groups of people don't assume they're being rude or anti social sometimes we find it difficult to process lots of noises around us, there's a good chance that a. we're ok, b. we're enjoying ourselves and c. we enjoy your company, maybe wait till a quieter place to have a more in depth conversation.
8. Be an extra pair of eyes
Sometimes all someone with a hidden condition needs is an extra pair of eyes, if we look like we're about to fall down the stairs, bump into somone or get run over do tell us, spacial awareness is a big problem for people with dyspraxia soemtimes we don't realise where our bodies are. Sometimes all we need is a tap, or a a little shout which can stop us from either injuring ourselves or those around us. Nobody likes spilt alcohol do they- what a waste of good wine. Also people with autism/dyspraxia I'm not too sure about dyslexia but I can imagine it can be true for them too can be literal thinkers which means we can be too nice, which isn't necesserily a bad thing but it means people can take advantage of us without us realising and can lead to bullying, if you notice any of that happening please make us aware it is, help us stand up for ourselves a little bit. Also watch out for the emotional effects these conditions can have and notice if someone may have low self esteem/confidence, anxiety or depresssion symptoms or be self harming, or be being bullied, we often find it difficult to explain how we feel so if you do notice be undertanding and try to help if you can.
9. See the funny side
My boyfriend says there is never a dull moment in our relationship, you never know what day the dyspraxic mind might have next, and one of the best traits in having a hidden condition is being able to see the funny side to situations and laughing at them, instead of having a moan to someone else about what someone with a hidden condition has done talk to them about it, have a laugh togther so you're laughing with them not at them.
10. I understand
Three words which can do so so much, so much for confidence, self belief and perception. Just knowing someone has taken that little bit of time to understand you and how your brain works and tries to understand the good days and the bad days. Praise when you can see someone overcoming something or trying hard, say you're proud of them. Never underestimate the what the power of a bit of kindness and understanding can do.