After attending The Dyspraxia Foundation conference last Friday, it was such an inspiring day, and I met/caught up with so many incredible individuals who had some link to dyspraxia all with a unique story to tell, often maybe not the happiest of story but with a twinge of happiness which comes to the end. Whilst I think it's really important that people understand what dyspraxia is and other neurodiverse differences are and how much it can effect day to day life, it's so important that people understand what people can do and can achieve and be successful in life, you hear so many sad stories from people saying to them they won't make everything of their lives, or won't live independently, and much more ignorant statements. People can often just see a label or assume because someone takes a while to achieve a goal or milestone it means they'll never reach it or assume we want everything doing for us (what rubbish!!)
All too often, there are so many individuals and families living with dyspraxia who have experienced misunderstandings or faced judgemental attitudes based on misinformed stereotypes of what the differences are such as: dyspraxia is just clumsiness.There is still so much stigma which exists because they are invisible differences- just because they can't be seen doesn't mean they're not there. A lot of people are still scared of difference, scared to get to get to know people, or ask questions often assuming people are a bit odd, careless, or don't take care of themselves without seeing the bigger picture and finding out what is going on in the brain
Once you do it's nothing to be scared of infact it's something quite fascinating because alongside the struggles are the strengths, the creativity, the thinking outside the box, the different way of thinking, the empathy and understanding for others and the sheer determination that nothing will stop us in life.
I have had the pleasure of meeting many hugely intelligent, insightful, kind, caring, loyal, skilled other dyspraxic people and their families, who are successful, living independently, in long term relationships, who have enlightened my conversations, brought something different to the table, and whom I've often laughed until my tummy hurts when we share the quirks and funny stories which happened over the years. Quirky is good, quirky should be embraced.
We may take a while to come out of our shell socially and be quite quiet at first but once we do, we can be some of the loyal friends you ever have and can provide different solutions to problems in the workplace, we always have your back and will never let you down, you know you can trust us and we'll try our very best to see the positives. We might struggle with organisation and memory and be running late, but we'll never let someone down, we'll always make the effort and take the time to do the little things which can make a difference.
Our amazing long term memories mean we can remember what people like and can put personal touches to gifts and presents and cards, we can be quite thoughtful and pay attention to the small details which can make someone smile. We know what it's like to struggle to feel alone, to feel like nobody understands us, so we'll fight for any injustice or ignorance we see, we'll try and be that person who makes the differences and is there for someone whatever life hits them, not jsut the positives and the good but know that life can be difficult sometimes and be there whatever time of day or night we genuinely do care.
We know what it's like to feel different so it makes us very open minded and non judgemental we see past someones struggles and don't care about the shallow things in life like how much your handbag costs, how perfect your hair and make up looks or how many shots you can down, we see the bigger picture and see someone as the person. If we know someone has a specific need or struggle in life we'll try and find as much as we can about it so you don't feel alone.
We also know how to laugh at ourselves and that can bring so much amusement to a conversation. Our handwriting might be all over the place and spelling not perfect but ask us how to us how to help you on the computer or how to use an app on the phone and we're your person. It may take us longer to learn to master a task or remember instructions, but do it in a way in which we learn and we can achieve academically to high standards and are very hard workers, and have a lot of pride in the work we do and care (even if it doesn't look like it sometimes.) Once we're passionate about a cause or an interest there's nothing which will hold us back, we're so determined to follow things through and make that difference (hello Mollie fundraiser) Things might be frustrating at times, anxiety might take over sometimes but when we know someone understands we're so so grateful for your help and support and helping us think more logically. We have goals, dreams places we want to see and achieve just like you do.
So much damage can be done by ignorance and misinformation. We need to start changing assumptions and percptions by more people knowing what dyspraxia is, it's so important that we see the person, the positive qualities they have then what they might struggle with, the best way to develop an understanding of dyspraxia is to listen to those who are dyspraxia, their families and friends. If you're lucky enough to know someone who is dyspraxic if you have a dyspraxic in your class or know someone in the workplace, embrace the humour, charm, and sprinkling of creative thinking they bring to your life and to all the dyspraxics reading this blog smile :) you're incredible!