Dyspraxia in the media
Following on from my last blog post about celebrities with dyspraxia (https://theblogwithonepost.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/celebritiesfamous-people-with-dyspraxia/) I thought I would write a post about how dyspraxia is talked about in the media.
It is very rare that dyspraxia is ever mentioned in the media, but when it is it always seems to be mentioned in little detail.
For example, in my last blog post I mentioned that Jamie Lambert has dyspraxia. When he was talking on Good Morning Britain, it was mentioned that he has dyspraxia but that was literally it, with no further questions from the presenters asking what this actually is. For people watching who had never heard of dyspraxia before, they may have thought that they’d said dyslexia. Whereas if they’d talked even a little bit about how it affected him then maybe people may have been encouraged to look into it a little bit more.
The same seems to happen when articles are written about dyspraxia. If anything at all is explained about how it affects the person it seems to be ‘dyspraxia means they have difficulty tying their shoes’. There is a lot more to it than this. It is often portrayed in the media as just clumsiness when in reality this is a narrow view.
Also, if the person has any other sort of disability/difference this will always be emphasised over dyspraxia. For example, I saw an article once talking about a student who has dyslexia and dyspraxia. The article focused entirely on the person’s dyslexia with barely any mention of their dyspraxia, when in reality their dyspraxia affected them more than their dyslexia.
Another example of this is this article about GCHQ employing more than 100 dyslexic and dyspraxic spies: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11111584/GCHQ-employs-more-than-100-dyslexic-and-dyspraxic-spies.html
It was great to see an article about the more positive aspects of dyspraxia, but what I hated about this article was that it focused almost entirely on dyslexia with barely any mention of dyspraxia. I’m not saying that dyslexia shouldn’t be talked about too, but dyspraxia deserves just as much recognition.
However, as I mentioned I was glad to see that this article looked at the more positive side to dyspraxia as dyspraxia is often talked about in a negative way in the media. Terms such as ‘suffered’ are used too often. By presenting dyspraxia as a negative in the media, people may begin to act negatively towards those with dyspraxia – failing to see it’s strengths.
Although I have to admit that with the amount of times words such as ‘suffered’ have been used, I’ve kind of got used to it and don’t really think about it much when I see it. When I do think about it, though, I don’t really like the way it’s used. It may seem a bit fussy but I just think it might give others too much of a negative view about dyspraxia. I think that we ‘suffer’ more from people’s ignorance than dyspraxia itself!
There have been a couple of programmes on TV where dyspraxia has been mentioned, but again it’s literally just the word ‘dyspraxia’ that is mentioned and nothing else about it. I remember one time I was watching a programme we’d recorded so the recording included part of the previous programme. I heard the word ‘dyspraxia’ mentioned and my reaction was “Did they actually just mention dyspraxia on TV?!” I looked it up to see what it was about, as dyspraxia being mentioned on TV is a rare occurrence! I found out that Dyspraxia had been featured on ‘Embarrassing Bodies’.
Now, you may be wondering why it was mentioned on this programme. It can cause embarrassing moments to happen such as falling over in front of loads of people, but it’s not exactly something you’d expect to see on this programme. The reason is that they had a 2 minute video each week to raise awareness of different conditions and that week’s video was about dyspraxia. At the end of the programme they were giving statistics. The programme was live so it’s only typical that one of the presenters accidentally said ‘dyslexia’ instead of ‘dyspraxia’ when reading out one of the statistics…
Channel 4 also have a dyspraxia ‘test’ on their website. I thought I’d test it out and I’m at ‘high risk’ of having dyspraxia according to the test, so it seems to work! However, it’s the same issue again with not giving the full picture of dyspraxia. I know it’s not an official diagnostic test, but it only really looks at the physical side to dyspraxia. It forgets about the social aspects, organisation, memory, concentration etc. Anyway, if you’d like to have a go at the test here’s the link: http://mindchecker.channel4.com/test-dyspraxia.html
The embarrassing bodies programme was a rare occurrence where they actually talked about what dyspraxia is, but in other programmes where it has been mentioned it is literally just the word ‘dyspraxia’ and nothing else. Well, maybe not literally as that wouldn’t make much sense… An example is in Waterloo Road where they said something along the lines of “You might have dyslexia, or dyspraxia.”
Last October I was looking online at my local newspaper and was surprised but pleased to see an article about dyspraxia! It was in the run up to Dyspraxia Awareness Week: http://www.thecomet.net/news/recruiting_call_from_hitchin_charity_we_need_more_help_to_support_teen_sufferers_1_3796531
For other articles that mention dyspraxia but don’t explain very much about what it is, there seems to be a cycle. Little explanation leads to little understanding which means that the media won’t mention dyspraxia as much because it’s not something many people are aware of. Fingers crossed that this will eventually change. I have to admit that recently there has been more about celebrities with dyspraxia in the media, which has hopefully helped to raise some more awareness.
So I think that dyspraxia being mentioned in the media is a good thing, but it needs to be mentioned with the right explanation to help raise the right sort of awareness.