How do I explain dyspraxia?
If I was to say to someone that I had dyslexia, they would most likely know roughly what I was talking about. However, I don’t have dyslexia. I have dyspraxia. There’s nowhere near as much awareness of dyspraxia as there is dyslexia. In the past when I’ve told people that I have dyspraxia I’ve often been given blank looks or simply asked “What is dyspraxia?”
Now, you’d think that after 17 years I’d have good knowledge of what dyspraxia is. Yes, I do. Can I ramble on about it in blog posts? Yes. Can I summarise it into a short couple of sentences in a face-to-face situation? No. So often when I’m asked what dyspraxia is I’ll end up giving an explanation that really doesn’t cover it properly, it’s usually something along the lines of ‘It affects balance, co-ordination, fine motor skills so hand-writing – and things like that really’. Then later in a different conversation I need to mention another aspect of my dyspraxia to explain something I’m doing. For example, extra time in exams. This is something I have because my thought processing takes significantly longer in comparison with other people. Now when someone suddenly asks me why I have extra time in exams, and I explain it’s because my thought processing takes longer because of my dyspraxia, they must be thinking ‘But that’s not what you said dyspraxia was…’ Sometimes, even though I know this is not what I am doing, it feels as though I’m making up excuses. Really it’s the fact that dyspraxia affects such a wide range of things, it’s just not possible to explain it all to someone (unless they read my blog!)
So anyway, I’ve been thinking recently that seeing as I’m starting university in September where I’ll be meeting new people I’m really going to need to think of a short way to explain dyspraxia. It’s bound to come up at some point or another. The Dyspraxia Foundation had an event on the other day at Birmingham, and there were lots of updates on their social media accounts – it really did look like a fantastic day. One of the things they uploaded was a photo of a PowerPoint slide which talked about discussing your diagnosis of dyspraxia. This included the idea to come up with a way of explaining dyspraxia and practising it. I thought this was a great idea. However, I then thought “How do I come up with an explanation that’s short enough?”
The next day as I was browsing through twitter I saw something was retweeted about the ‘Urban Dictionary’. Not even thinking about the ‘short explanation’, I randomly decided to have a look on there to see if they had a definition of dyspraxia. I was half-expecting it to be a funny or sarcastic definition, with it being the urban dictionary. I actually found it to be quite a good summary of dyspraxia, which I have included below:
“Dyspraxia comes from two Greek words: ‘dys’ (meaning abnormal) and ‘praxis’ (meaning doing). It is also known as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD). However, this term can be misleading, for although dyspraxia’s defining symptoms are excessive clumsiness and problems with balance, the condition can also impact on short-term memory, personal organisation, attention span, mathematical ability, and social skills. There is often an overlap with other specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia; and with autistic spectrum disorders, such as Asperger’s syndrome. Dyspraxic people typically have average or above average IQ scores, just like everybody else; their raw intelligence is not affected by the disability.
While dyspraxia causes significant difficulties for sufferers, it also has its positive aspects – many people with dyspraxia have extremely strong language skills, which accounts for the high number of famous authors who are now thought to have had dyspraxia. These include Emily Bronte and G.K. Chesterton. Modern-day celebrities who are dyspraxic include Richard Branson (owner of the ‘Virgin’ empire) and David Bailey (photographer).Dyspraxia is not a life sentence; it’s just a different way of thinking.”
So as you can see it was different to my expectations. I think it’s definitely one of the shortest definitions of dyspraxia I’ve seen, while still covering a lot of the aspects. I love the sentence at the end too!
I decided to post a print screen of the definition on twitter. I just thought “Oh I might as well post it on there. Maybe it will help to make a couple of more people aware.” I was so surprised to see that it has reached a total of 42 retweets and 21 favourites!! It seems like others also agree that it’s a good summary of dyspraxia. Hopefully with those retweets it means that a few more people are aware too!
So I’ll definitely be using quite a few parts of that definition to help explain dyspraxia. Now I’ve just got until September to come up with a definition that I can use. Oh, and I need time to practice it too! If anyone else has any ideas of ways to explain dyspraxia or what they say themselves then please let me know!