10 things not to say to someone with dyspraxia

Having a hidden disability means that I’ve had quite a few comments, some of which are ignorant and annoying, others are fairly amusing.
So I’ve thought I’d make a list of some of the things people have said to me. You may find some of them relatable if you’re not dyspraxic but have a different disability/condition. So here’s my list of 10 things not to say to someone with dyspraxia:

1. But you don’t look like you have a disability!

When will people realise that hidden disabilities exist and that not all disabilities are visible?! It’s so tempting to answer them by saying “And you don’t look ignorant, but here we are…”
Other similar comments I’ve had to this after explaining dyspraxia are “But you look fine to me!” or “But you look normal!” – what is ‘normal’ anyway..?

2. Well you can do *insert task here* fine, so how can you have a disability?

Considering that person didn’t know what dyspraxia was a minute ago, why should they then start making judgements about whether they think I have a disability or not? If the task that I, according to them, ‘can do’ is something that requires coordination, balance etc. then it’s most likely that I’ve practiced that task a lot and have worked out my own way of doing it.

3. I do that too, so that means I must have dyspraxia then.

I’ve listed one aspect of dyspraxia, yes you may do that one thing too, but there is a whole lot more to dyspraxia than just that. Maybe if you listened you would realise that!

4. You walk weirdly/you don’t have very good balance do you? (Or some similar comment)

If you made a comment like that without knowing I have dyspraxia it’s not as bad, but it’s still judgemental. If, however, you know I have dyspraxia and still make a comment like that then that’s worse, why bother doing that?! I mean considering I’ve lived with dyspraxia for 17 years, there’s no need to point out what I’m already aware of.

5. You’re so quiet!

Okay, I admit, a lot of the time when this has been said to me I don’t think it was intended to be rude. But if someone was autistic you wouldn’t say that they’re quiet, would you? You’d understand that they have difficulties in social situations and that’s why they might not speak as much in large groups (well, at least I’d hope you’d think that!) With dyspraxia, we also can have difficulties in social situations, particularly with new people or when in large groups. So when someone points out that I’m quiet (90% of the time this is when I’m in a large group) it really doesn’t help and it can be difficult to explain why so I kind of end up not saying much in response and it’s awkward.

6. *Says something in a really patronising way*

Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me often. But when it did, it was ironically someone who worked in the disability department of a university and she specialised in dyslexia and dyspraxia. You’d think out of all people she’d be understanding? But no, she spoke to me slowly and with the most patronising tone of voice. I’m not stupid! Safe to say I didn’t apply for that university!

7. Oh, she’s got problems.

There’s no need to be like that, it’s not exactly going to increase my confidence. If you genuinely didn’t catch the name of my disability then just ask me again, it’s not that hard.

8. You won’t be able to do this, so I’ll do it for you.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some lovely people who offer to help with things, which I appreciate. But those kind people have actually asked me if I would like help with something without just assuming that I won’t be able to do it and without blatantly pointing it out too. It was a teacher once who said this to me as well (saying that she’d do something because I wouldn’t be able to), pretty loudly too, how lovely of her to make the whole class aware.

9. You’ll grow out of it!

This is something that’s not so much been directly said to me, but my dad said that when I was younger people would often say that I would just ‘grow out of it’. No, I won’t. You don’t just ‘grow out of’ dyspraxia. Yes, you may become better at doing certain things due to working out your own way of doing them, but that’s just for a small number of things! When people say this it’s as if they believe dyspraxia is something that’s just been made up!

10. I wish I had dyspraxia so I could use a laptop in lessons!

Yes, someone genuinely said this to me. It’s not like I use a laptop to put me at an extra advantage, it’s to put me at the same level as everyone else. But seriously, the things people say…

Thankfully not everyone is like this and there are some very understanding people out there!

Natalie 🙂

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21 Comments

  1. Alexander Cargill

    I think ive had all of these at some point or another

    Like

    • Aww – it’s so frustrating isn’t it?

      Like

  2. Dara

    My all time favourite was ” how can you be disabled when you are so normal?!?!” Said with utter confusion. As though people simultaneously become disabled and grow extra limbs or dye their hair green or something 😦

    Like

    • So true! Grr so frustrating! I once also had something like “But you seem quite slim and seem to have good fitness!” – it was as if to say that everyone with a disability is overweight and unfit! 😦

      Like

  3. thanks for this post. I have dyspraxia too and I’ve never actually met anyone else with dyspraxia so always find it extremely comforting to hear about other people struggling with the same thing! Yep, I have for sure struggled with all of the above.

    Like

    • No problem! Thanks for having a read of it! Yeah I know how you feel, it’s so nice speaking to other people with dyspraxia 🙂

      Like

  4. As Eleanor Roosevelt said – Great minds talk about ideas. Average minds talk about events. Small minds talk about people…. Madame la Comtesse le Visage du Bouvier

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  5. Debra Bell

    She is so happy and confident, you would never believe it ###***///

    Like

  6. I once had a friend say that it was unfair that I got extra time in exams.
    SERIOUSLY? LIKE REALLY? If I hadn’t had extra time in exams I would have failed every single one of my GCSEs. Having extra time put me at the same level as everyone else in my year. It meant that could go on and do A levels, and go to university and get my BA (and did pretty damn well at uni if I say so myself, but that was also because of extra time and having an amazing learning support assistant) and then guess what? I went on and got an MA as well. None of which, I would have been able to do if not for the extra support I had and secondary school.

    It did not put me at an advantage in anyway, it just meant I could achieve my full potential.

    Like

    • Aww, that’s awful they said that! 😦 People need to understand that adjustments aren’t there to put us at an advantage, extra time is there due to the fact that we physically take longer to write/type, thought processing takes longer etc. There’s a reason for every exam arrangement. Wow, certainly does sound like you’ve gone on to achieve a lot! 🙂

      Like

  7. faye puddifoot

    Hi,
    Its wonderful to hear the day to day happenings and goins on, as for the first time i can really relate. I don’t know anyone else with dyspraxia near me, so to find you is lovely. 🙂 (sorry for the tangent). 🙂 also i totally agree with this, my piano teacher is completely ignorant, and has no idea why i can do something fine once, then awful the second time. Oh, and exams are not at all stressful, according to him. Needless to say i am phasing him out. 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxx

    Like

    • Aww thank you, I’m really glad you’ve found it is something for you relate too. It’s lovely to speak to other people with dyspraxia. That’s a shame to hear about your piano teacher – sounds like he needs to be made more aware of dyspraxia! Hope it all works out okay 🙂 xx

      Like

  8. Nellie

    This rings so true. I’m now in my mid 30s and have never been able to pass a driving test, despite multiple attempts. The process of driving is fine, its the addition of traffic and parked cars etc – I simply cannot judge my distance from them, or the speed at which other cars are coming. I’m frequently assured by well meaning people that if I just practice a bit more on quiet roads it’ll be fine – I just need to try harder! No amount of explaining that the problem is the addition of other cars moves some people. Its very refreshing to not be the only one! Thanks for your blog, I enjoyed it.

    Like

    • I haven’t had any driving lessons yet, but the comments you’ve received sound very frustrating! No problem, thanks for your comment 🙂

      Like

  9. “you should be more careful.” “You should watch what your doing” when cutting my finger hitting my head at work.
    Im dyspraxic

    They look at me like its an excuse

    Like

  10. Jack Jennings

    I have dyspraxia my parents and I have had conversations with the school about it demanding I could use a laptop during English or long writing lessons and guess what they said.We’re too busy for small things like that .
    I don’t know what to say to that.

    Like

    • That’s not fair at all! Is there a SENCo at your school who you can speak to?

      Like

  11. Lily

    I have dysphraxia and every single one of my friends say “oh she’s got problems.” Its like so distressing.

    Like

    • Oh no! It’s horrible when people say things like that 😦

      Like

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