On Friday I stood up and spoke infront of loads of unfamiliar faces and some which I knew very well at the Dyspraxia Foundation workshop in Birmingham (more about that in a later blog) the thought of that terrified me. One thing I've realised over the last few months how many people with dyspraxia/dyslexia also have anxiety, up until a few years ago I thought it was just me being silly and everyone was a bit anxious (which is true) but when it started to cripple me and hold me back from the things I loved and enjoyed. After the incredible overwhelming response from my last blog which focused on the emotional side of neurodiversity, I thought it was a good idea to keep writing blogs to raise awarenes of the emotional side of things but also some coping strategies for the person who may struggling with anxiety and the people around them as I know a lot of people don't know what to do and feel a little bit powerless. As with all of my blogs even though I may mention specific differences in this blog I hope they may help anyone who may struggle with anxiety and hopefully bring a little bit of calm in your life. If you are really struggling, there's lots of professional help out there which can help. You're stronger than you think you are!
I'm going to now list and talk about some of the situations people with dyspraxia/dyslexia can feel anxious in and hopefully my (tested) strategies might help a little, anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about neither is any other mental health issue
Change: A lot of dyspraxic people hate change, we can have little routines in our heads of what is happening today, tomorrow, next weekend, we're also very visual thinkers which means those routines can be very visual on the positive when we are passionate about something we really are passionate about it and it makes us so determined. But any break in that routine can make us scared and anxious and a bit tearful and for a lot of parents that can be hard to deal with. My advice is to plan ahead as much as you can, if a change is going to happen don't just drop the change onto someone, help the person through the fears of the unkown and help to rationalise their thoughts.
New environment: A new environment can be very overwhelming for a lot of dyspraxics as we worry about getting lost, and making sense of it all, big changes such as starting a new job or changing schools can be overwhelming. Try and find as much as you can about what/where you're going first, maybe have a look at google maps, take little steps so you aren't overwhelmed.
Sensory Overload: That can be noise, smell, taste, heat, light, for me it's mainly noise and heat, and if it can be the combination of the two it can make me feel very uncomfortable, when I first commuted to London all the sensory issues used to make me feel physically sick every morning and unbarable. Try if you can to avoid routes or situations which you know wil make you struggle sensory wise, bt sometimes it needs to be done, make sure you use breathing techniqes, listen to music, find some kind of distraction, I find closing my eyes on the tube helps when it gets really busy (maybe just me on that one) make others aware it can be distressing for you and how they can help.
Crowds of people: Again related to mainly sensory issues but also spacial awareness, many dyspraxics don't like crowds of people and it can make us feel really uncomfortable, again try and plan where you're going, explain to those around you, and try and have a strategy for getting some air or what to do if it all gets a bit too overwhelming.
Getting lost/loosing items/running late: A lot of parents will probably find they worry about their dyspraxic/dyslexic child loosing themselves or loosing what they have my mum was the same. But there are apps which can help such as find my friends app, or use the photo camera on phone to take photos of the routes, plan ahead and try and have specific places for important things e.g house keys, bus pass, phone, try and have a bag with a strap on it, if things happen they do, they happen to us all, in reality what could the worse thing which could happen, if things do happen it doesn't have to be a huge deal. A lot of dyspraxic and dyslexic people struggle with time management and are often running late and are prone to procrastination, this is something which is true to me still but try to plan ahead it makes thing a little less chaotic
Social environments: As a dyspraxic you're very wary you do things differently to other people, maybe just who you are, how your body moves, you might struggle with social skills, it can make us feel anxious before social gatherings we can worry what might go wrong, the best advice I can give to that is spend time with people who get it, who understad you and who bring out your strengths and see the positives.
Confidence/self esteem: Probably the biggest factor in a lot of anxiety in people with dyspraxia/dyslexia, our self worth, worrying if we've upset others, worrying if we've messed up or done a good job, constantly putting ourselves down and seeing the very worst of ourselves and beating ourselves up, some people can also struggle with depresssion. This can stem from negative experiences in the past, but don't let them control you, spend time with people who build you up and if you know someone who needs building up, don't pressure yourself, praise and reward yourself, look after yourself, you're a unique, wonderful person be kind to yourself you deserve it, stop beating yourself up and think of all the positive things about yourself.