There are many struggles that occur throughout people’s lives. Struggles that can often hold us back in life. I was diagnosed with dyspraxia/DCD when I was eleven years old. Prior to this, neither my parents nor I were aware of what this foreign word even meant. Dyspraxia, formerly known as development co- ordination disorder (DCD), is a disorder of the brain. In the past, it was dismissed as being ”clumsy child syndrome”. Dyspraxia/DCD affects 6% of the population. The condition causes great difficulty with memory, perception and processing, along with poor planning, organisation and sequencing skills and co-ordination.
The condition effects me with simple day to day activities. I fall and trip often and end up hurt, I’m very disorganised too. I cannot do maths to to save my life. The key signs to my primary school teacher and parents were my poor handwriting, difficulty dressing myself, poor balance and co-ordination. Sometimes it feels alien to me that I have a disability. The lack of awareness also does not help. When I confide in others a bitterness creeps up upon their face. ” Do you mean dyslexia?” or ” you seem normal/ fine to me “. This has infuriated and upset me so much that I have held back from discussing my condition. What made it harder in secondary school is boys in my school had a joke, it wasn’t aimed towards me or anyone really, but amongst themselves calling out ” dyspraxia”. I am confident that not even one actually knew what it meant. This terrified me so much to the extent that shame grew inside. I lived in fear that I would be ‘found out’. I began to want to hide my disability even more.
However, I have learned now not to be ashamed of my dyspraxia/DCD but to embrace it. I do not have a below average IQ , I just learn with difficulty and that’s okay. There are days where it clouds my dreams. In school, I would sometimes turn up with no books and copies and with no homework completed. It takes me longer to write off the board and I’m constantly dropping things. This usually leads me to getting in trouble which always ends up with me in tears or worse again, having a panic attack. My short term memory is basically non-existent and sticky notes are my best friends. I find the lack of understanding hard but also the perfectionist inside me does not help. I think I punish myself sometimes but I’m grateful that i strive for what I want. I know that I find it 10 times more difficult than my peers to retain information. The thought of PE makes me emotionally unstable as my muscles are weak and it becomes very obvious in PE that there is something different about me.
Although my dyspraxia/DCD causes me great difficulty everyday, it also pushes me to get on with life. I don’t let it define me and perhaps this is why many people don’t know about it. I feel that dyspraxia/DCD should be more well known. I felt huge relief when model Cara Delevingne came out and said that she had been diagnosed with dyspraxia/DCD and suffered anxiety and panic attacks due to it. It was something that I knew the feeling of all too well but the bliss of knowing that I was not alone definitely helped.
Reading my occupational therapist reports are always a struggle. It generally disturbs me and it is an in-detail report on my condition. It’s always when it’s written on paper that I realise the severity of my condition and how it impacts on my daily life. It makes me become more conscious of my dyspraxia/DCD but I know it does not define me. In my report, my difficulties scream out and I’m just a name on a page. What my reports do not say is my strengths like I have loads of friends and that I enjoy everything else my peers do. I don’t let my dyspraxia/DCD stop me , my dyspraxia/DCD is just one fraction of me. There is so much more to me and I’ll always remember that. No matter how much I struggle, I find solace In this.
by Molly Knightly
Molly is a teenage girl with dyspraxia/DCD preparing for her Leaving Certificate, you can read more from her, including this post, on her Wordpress blog.
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