I put out a request on the Dyspraxia Foundation adult Facebook page the other day if anyone had any requests for blogs for me to write to help people the most, and one which became very popular was that a lot of people felt that there needs to be more awareness ofn the fact that no two people identified dyspraxic will be the same, have the same strengths, weaknesses, quirks. It really got me thinking. I've worked with so many people with additional needs over the last 9 years in mainstream and special school environments. Each child has been unique and to me that is so fascinating and one of the reasons I love my job so much.
In a class or even a work place there might be more than one person identified as being dyspraxic, dyslexic, have any other hidden or physical difference. They will all have their own specific profile, no two being the same. Some might not struggle at all at ball sports but fund fine motor skills excruciating painful, someone might have handwriting like the hieroglyphics, but another have beautiful handwriting which someone has written very painfully slowly. There are levels from mild to severe but we should not treat anyone any less or more based on that and make sure children and adults get the right help they need to the right way they learn. It's also so important that we see past any stereotypes and assumptions.
It's really easy and it's happened to me before for people to say things like "but my friend is dyspraxic but ok with that why do you still struggle with it" often it's not necessarily out of malice, but can be quite damaging if we don't look at someone as an individual. In jobs I've often been seen as the person with dyspraxia/dyslexia where people have looked at all the symptoms and assumed everything was me and I would never get any coping strategies, safe to say that was not a good way for me to develop strategies. Whilst it's really important that others especially teachers are aware of the basics which a lot of people with dyspraxia or dyslexia may have in common. Dyspraxia Foundation, Dyslexia Action and British Dyslexia Association all have on their websites and in their centres a whole range of pamphlets and information about different strengths and weaknesses someone may have. I think it's important even if you don't know someone who is identified it's good to have a general knowledge- you never know who you might meet in life. The same comes for things such as mental health: no two people will be exactly the same, we all live different lives, have different backgrounds have different circumstances.
We all disclose differently too, some people choose to disclose information about issues on social media, some don't choose to all, it doesn't mean someone is struggling any less or more by what they disclose and they shouldn't be judged by that. I would never discuss the more private issues on social media or even on this blog, doesn't mean they've never been there just I think you've always got to be wary on social media on who can see what and don't trust everyone (I've learnt the hard way on that so has made me wary who to disclose to.) Also s much as celebrities are great ambassadors for the cause don't compare someone's strengths and weaknesses in comparison to a celebrity.
Take me and my boyfriend Matt (who will be blogging later in the week) even though not diagnosed dyspraxic, has quite a few similar traits to me and probably if got tested maybe identified as dyspraxic too, he struggles a lot more socially than me and can get quite anxious in new settings. But what makes things work is how we balance the strengths and weaknesses they compliment each other. My sense of direction is hopeless but Matt knows the London rail network really well and remember times and dates we need to be places. He struggles to order at a bar, or make telephone calls, but we can find strategies to help each other. When I get anxious it can be every physical (shaking, bad tummy etc) but with Matt when he's anxious he can just go really quiet or appear quite blunt ( he's a big softie I promise.) I can be a very literal thinker but he can be quite a realist, so we can help each other through situations and go around the country seeing many lovely faces we know. Even if we do both run late and aren't the tidiest of people and good at remembering where we've put things but then there's never a dull moment. Most importantly we both have a lot of understanding and empathy for each other and other people too.
My friend Hannah wrote a blog about how making comparisons can be quite damaging to our self esteem, even though we often do it without realising, we don't like to accept compliments or can often see ourselves as the weaker person. Hannah's blog can be found here: https://hannanarscrawls.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/lets-not-compare/ well worth a read and some very wise words so do check it out. I've always been bad for comparing myself to others whether it be looks or personality or just me and then letting it effect my confidence and self esteem. I'm getting better at it though and positive blogs like Hannah's do help.
- Get to know the person and find out their strengths/weaknesses
- Have an open mind
- Make sure it comes from the person themselves
- See past the label
- See past misconceptions and stereotypes
- You're an unique individual embrace it
- You might not be good at everything but there will always be something you will be.
- Do things at your own pace and let others go at their own pace too
- Set realistic achievable goals
- Don't always judge on what is or isn't put on social media
- Do things your way
- Smile :)