I got asked for some advice from fellow dyspraxic blogger and all round lovely person Natalie the other week, Natalie is about to start university in the next few weeks and is anxious about disclosing dyspraxia to other people on her course. This is going to be a very honest blog, if it's something which you think you could also share some advice about please do so and feel free to give some in the comment box below. Normally in my blogs I talk about dyslexia and dyspraxia, but I think it's important given the different level of awareness and understanding for this one it's going to be mainly a dyspraxic one.
The thought of disclosing dyspraxia in complete honesty used to terrify me (anyone else felt like that?) I used to avoid talking about it completely, had really bad social anxiety over it. I've always been a private person and never had much confidence talking about me. I always found it a lot easier to talk about the dyslexic side of things as there was more awareness, but as my dyspraxia is more severe I also realised I really needed to talk about that. My experiences of disclosing dyspraxia have been very mixed over the years, I've had some horrendous experiences but most recently I've had some more positive ones. I think the reason why I got so anxious about it all was because of the lack of public knowledge which surrounds it and the amount of times people haven't known what it is. Also there are so many different bits to dyspraxia it's so much more than just the clumsiness and physical side to it, we are all different, have different strengths, different struggles different overlaps, it can be quite a complex way of thinking, processing and seeing the word, so completely understandable why so many people find it quite difficult to explain everything, look around, look on the internet and make up a discription which fits you, as time goes on, the more confident you will feel explaining.
I always used to think quite irrationally, what if people don't "get it?" what if people
think I'm a bit odd or a freak? what if people think I'm slowing them down or feel like I'm a burden to them wanting help? A lot of "what ifs" in reality yes their sadly will be people who don't get dyspraxia, some may change over time, with some people they will never get it. But I think the most important thing is to stay true to who you are, whilst dyspraxia doesn't define us we want people to accept it and accept it like everything else about us, whilst we can play to our strengths, develop coping strategies, it's a part of who we are. One thing I've realised recently is that there may be people who have very poor knowledge about dyspraxia but there are a few people out there who are willing just to listen and not judge, the circle you surround yourself with can have such an impact on your happiness, whilst dyspraxia is life long, understanding can make a huge difference.
One of the things which I've always found difficult though is when to talk to people about dyspraxia, and when to bring it up in general conversation. In the past I waited till something had happened, after I'd had a fall or accident or when I'd made lots of mistakes, I've since realised that wasn't the best approach for me, I still find this difficult so any helpful hints of what others have tried are really helpful. Good friend Monique Craine has written an excellent blog To Disclose Or Not To Disclose which can be found: http://needtosay.weebly.com/blog/to-disclose-or-not-to-disclose-that-is-the-question
If I can tell someone seems like an understanding person, I might bring it up if something general comes up in conversation, or if people are talking about struggles they have themselves or a family member has. I once got told it's not about shouting it from the rooftops, but telling a few people why you are the way you are and how they can help best and also about the many strengths we have too. I also find talking about my blogs and the charity works helps, as some people seem interested in seeing how I've used my experiences to help others. I know Natalie writes incredible blogs and also uses her own experiences to help others so I can see that working in her favour.
I hope as time goes on, society becomes more understanding of hidden disabilities and differences as a whole, that it's not ok to be ignorant or make judgements and assumptions before you know someone, I know that's a long way off but hopefully fingers crossed over time.
I'm not going to lie I still find it difficult sometimes, but I have been trying to work on my confidence and anxiety, we still have a long way to go dyspraxia awareness wise, but the more we talk, campaign, blog, work together and fight to be heard, one day hopefully we will be able to say "but what if people do understand my dyspraxia?"
I really hope this helps Natalie, always stay true to yourself, be proud of yourself for making that
conversation, it's time to talk about dyspraxia.