The importance of awareness
Ignorance is such a significant issue for many people with dyspraxia, whether it’s in the workplace or school unfortunately so many people have faced ignorance at one point or another. Awareness has such a major part to play in this. If only people were more aware of what dyspraxia was then they might not be so ignorant.
Also, I’ve heard of so many people with dyspraxia who haven’t even realised that they have dyspraxia until they are an adult! I consider myself so lucky for the fact that I was diagnosed with dyspraxia at the age of about 3 to 4. I genuinely couldn’t imagine going through school without the extra support, let alone not knowing why I did things so differently to other people. Yet if the awareness was there in the first place then maybe people would be diagnosed much earlier on.
As Rosie has talked about in her blogs (which can be found here: http://thinkoutsideofthecardboardbox.blogspot.co.uk/ I really do recommend having a read!) awareness really should be put into place starting in primary schools for children as well as teachers. I can’t really remember how I explained dyspraxia to my friends in primary school, but they basically knew that I had something that meant I couldn’t run as fast as them. If the awareness was there in the first place then maybe I wouldn’t have needed to attempt to explain it so many times. I know it seems really difficult to explain something like dyspraxia to someone in primary school, but it could be explained in really simplistic terms. Even if it was just things like ‘People with dyspraxia might fall over more often because they find balancing more difficult’ or ‘Please be kind to people with dyspraxia when there are lots of you together, it’s a bit more difficult for them sometimes’. If there were just a few assemblies about different types of disability, including both visible and hidden disabilities, children could use the knowledge they had gained to help them to be more understanding towards others as they get older. There just really isn’t the awareness put out there, not only about dyspraxia but other disabilities too.
Even in secondary school there should be more awareness, especially as students are at an age where they have a better understanding. I remember my school used to have a display outside learning development which had quotes from people with different disabilities, e.g. for dyspraxia it said something like ‘I find it difficult to write in a straight line’ and for autism it included something along the lines of ‘I get upset when there are changes to my routine’. Though they were just short statements about a few common disabilities I really do think it was such a good idea. You never know, it might have resulted in people looking into one of the disabilities a bit more. They’ve taken the display down now though and it’s been replaced by a display board with photos of all of the learning development staff.
What really frustrates me about secondary school and awareness is the fact that there is so much talk about diversity, in both assemblies and lessons. But guess what type of diversity they’d never talk about? Disabilities! In RPS (Religious and Personal Studies) lessons we would learn about discrimination. Sexism, racism, all the types of discrimination you could possibly think of…except disability discrimination. Surely that’s discrimination in itself? It was so frustrating! It’s as though there is still a stigma around disability, surely in the 21st Century that should no longer exist? If there was ever anything about disability in assemblies, it would always be about more visible disabilities. Yes, it is important that people understand them but hidden disabilities equally need the awareness. What made it worse is hearing ignorant comments to other students with hidden conditions, such as autism. That just proves that there needs to be more awareness!
During school I’ve answered the question “What is dyspraxia?” so many times, and as I’ve talked about in previous blogs it is so hard to explain! If the awareness was there in the first place that wouldn’t be a problem…
Anyway, I have gone on a bit of a rant here. It just really frustrates me how disabilities, particularly hidden ones, don’t get the awareness they need. Hopefully in the future schools will do more to raise awareness!