As I have been asked to do a speech at The Dyspraxia Foundation conference in March: Adolescence into Adulthood on March 6th in Birmingham, I thought it would be good for those who may not be able to attend or those in general who might be struggling in the workplace at the moment or have a relative or friend who may be struggling in employment, maybe you're an employer who needs more information about dyspraxia and dyslexia.
You never know in life who you might meet who has this different way of thinking, there's a high chance that in a job you will meet people who have this unique way of thinking. Although some of my experiences have been quite negative and painful and quite honestly hard to write about, I think it's important that it's spoken about so others don't go through what I did and why there needs to be a change on how these differmt ways of thinking are seen and treated and to help banish the stigma which still surrounds them. People who may be Dyspraxic and dyslexic don't want sympathy, they don't want pity and the looks of poor you what we do want is undertanding and understanding and attention are two different things.
It is important that dyspraxia isn't just forgotten about and any awareness campaigns for dyslexia include dyspraxia too as so many people have both. The accommodations a dyspraxic might need in a workplace may be slightly different to dyslexia and people may need more support other than assistive technology.
Sadly so many people in life I've met are scared of difference, I once had two people run away from me as they were embarrassed to be seen as someone who was different to them as I walked along in my typical un-coordinated style. Over the last two years I went literally to hell and back as I was trapped in an environment full of ignorance and old fashioned views. The emotional effect it had not only what it had on me, my relationship and my family was intense and terrible. I went from a positive person to someone who was in a dark negative spiral feeling trapped and completely worthless about myself and life in general.
I was made to believe that I was stupid, worthless, couldn't do my job properly, weird and a bad role model and that was only to my face so much 'banter' or emotional bullying went on behind my back. It made me loose all my confidence, self worth, I stopped doing things I was capable of because I was being told so much I couldn't do things I started to believe I was incapable of doing anything. Thanks to professional help and an amazing boyfriend and family and friends I am in a more positive place in life now. But I would hate for anyone to be crippled with anxiety and later depression like I was, everything constantly felt numb and for someone who's brain can work in such a positive way it wasn't a good thing.
We need to stand up for bullying in the workplace because of difference is unacceptable, having an ignorant view of seeing things isn't a positive trait but there is so much we can do to try and help other people who were and are in the same position as I was. Dyspraxia and dyslexia are such unique, creative thought processes which need to be seen in a positive light. I honestly think a lot of ignorance is due to lack of training and awareness. This needs to happen way before people reach employment it needs to start in primary school, people need educating in assemblies and in classes about differmt learning styles and how other people in their class may see the world. Differemce needs to be seen as ok, and not a bad thing.
Teachers need access to teacher training about dyslexia and dyspraxia so they are aware how different ways the children in their classes learn and how to bring out the positives. As they are hidden people often don't realise someone could be struggling and how much of an effect they can have on people and the battles parents can go through to get support. I hear of so many sad cases where parents are often ignored and have to fight so hard. It shouldn't be like that. If there was more awareness and training in place from such a young age then it would have a domino effect into secondary school, further education, university and then into employment.
So many incredible people aren't given the chance to shine as they are seen as just their labeles and what they can't do instead of what they can do, the Impact which this has on unemployment rates and the mental health services is huge.
The potential people with dyspraxia and dyslexia have is huge we are such determined hard working, things may take us quite a few attempts to get there and we do things in our own way , sometimes our coping strategies may be a little different to how everyone else , might do things. We may sometimes might be messy and cluttered and disorganised, or. One to work with toothpaste down ourselves or spil our lunch everywhere. We might bump into people and trip over thin air and need things repeting several times but it doesn't mean we don't care and aren't trying its in fact it's the complete opposite. We literally think out of the box and often like there is no box there in the first place. We offer emotional intelligence which I want to cover on another blog which means we understand and empathise with others as we know what it's like to struggle, we don't judge and have a very open mind. But there needs to be the understanding in place and that understanding has to be acrosss all of neurodiversity.
As for me although I have to travel 3 hours on the tube every day, have sensory overload and feel like a sardine in a can, once or twice may have got on the wrong bus but my determination to succeed gets me though, I now work as a learning support in a college helping other students who have been through what I have achieve their goals and dreams in life, for a lot of them it's the first bit of undertanding they have had. I hope my story and journey can show people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is hope.
My boss is dyslexic herself and is wanting to use my strengths and all the studying I have done for my degree and masters in the college to help raise awareness and use my experiences to help other students and staff understand more and hopefully will be expanding on this blog to do more awareness in other areas including a fixers project. I am really proud of myself for how far I have come in the last few years. I still have a long way to go and I don't think I will ever be the most confident of people but mentally I am a lot more stronger and am determined to make a change I hope others who are in the same boat can maybe inspired by my story. With the right help access to support and training anything is possible and success can happen.
It took for me to be 27 to have the right help and understanding this needs to change and finally my mum is the happiest She's been in years and is smiling and to me this makes everything worthwhile, let's make more people smile and be happy. Be kind you never know what battle someone has gone through to get where they are in life.