It’s dyspraxia awareness this week (11th-17th October)! As those of you who read my blogs will know, raising awareness of dyspraxia isn’t just limited to one week for me – it’s dyspraxia awareness week every week for me! Although I do hope that lots of much needed awareness is raised during this week in particular.
So here’s 10 facts about dyspraxia…
- It is thought that 5-10% of the population have dyspraxia.
When I was younger, I thought that dyspraxia was rare as I didn’t know anyone else who had it and no one seemed to have heard of it before. I was very surprised to hear in recent years that 5-10% of the population are thought to have dyspraxia. It is, of course, difficult to say exactly what percentage of the population have dyspraxia. There may be many more people who have dyspraxia who go undiagnosed and it also affects people to varying degrees. Either way, people often find the statistics very surprising as dyspraxia is a lot more common than you might think!
2. Dyspraxia is more common in males than females.
It is thought that males are four times more likely to be affected by dyspraxia than females. However, there might not be as much difference as statistics suggest. The Dyspraxia Foundation’s theme for this week is “Is it a battle of the sexes?” and looks at the fact that females often go through school, university and even the workplace without ever receiving a diagnosis. I consider myself lucky for the fact that I did receive an early diagnosis at the age of 3. I couldn’t imagine going through school not receiving the extra support and not knowing why I did things ‘differently’!
3. Dyspraxia is not the same as dyslexia.
Despite the fact that: they sound the same, they are both classed as specific learning difficulties, and they have overlaps such as difficulties with short term memory and organisation, they are two different things! There’s been so many times where I’ve told someone I have dyspraxia and they’ve thought I meant dyslexia!
4. The signals sent from our brain to our body get muddled.
Most people’s brains will send signals to their body successfully, enabling them to perform tasks that require balance and co-ordination, to speak fluently, to process things at a normal speed. Whereas for those of us with dyspraxia, these signals get muddled – you could even picture them as tangled wires. This can affect us in a variety of ways.
5. Dyspraxia can affect the following areas: physical, speech and language, social, eye movements, sensory, spatial awareness, memory, organisation, concentration, emotion, sense of direction and thought processing.
As you can tell, dyspraxia affects a variety of things. This means that summarising it is not an easy task and I’ve probably missed something off the list! I’ve gone into more detail about how dyspraxia affects me in some of my other blog posts but thought I would try to provide a summary for those of you who know little about dyspraxia:
- Physical – fine motor skills, gross motor skills, balance and co-ordination.
- Speech and language – difficulty pronouncing certain words, stuttering, getting words muddled up, difficulty organising the sequence of the sentence, difficulty controlling tone and volume of speech.
- Social – difficulty with eye contact, literal thinking, difficulty knowing when to interject in a conversation particularly in large groups, may repeat ourselves, background noise makes social situations more difficult.
- Eye movements – tracking, relocating.
- Sensory – over/under-sensitive to touch, temperature, noise, smell, taste, pain, light.
- Spatial awareness – knowing where we are in relation to other objects/people, difficulty judging amount of pressure to apply to things (I wasn’t sure what other category this would fit into!).
- Memory – difficulty with short-term memory, following a long list of instructions can be difficult.
- Organisation – made more difficult due to difficulties with memory, organisation doesn’t come naturally to us.
- Concentration – daydream very easily, difficult to concentrate for long periods of time, concentration can be made even more difficult by background noise.
- Emotion – tendency to get easily stressed and frustrated, difficulty adapting to changes in routines.
- Sense of direction – getting lost easily, difficulty telling left and right apart.
- Thought processing – thought processes can be slower than for others, tend to have lots of thoughts at once – can make getting to sleep difficult as our brain can’t ‘shut down’ easily.
I’ve also created a diagram to try and summarise dyspraxia as best as I can:
6. No two people with dyspraxia are the same.
Despite the fact that I’ve just told you a list of things that dyspraxia can affect, this doesn’t mean that everyone with dyspraxia will be affected in the same way! For example, my dyspraxia doesn’t affect me very much sensory-wise, whereas for other dyspraxics they may have a lot of sensory-related issues and experience sensory-overload. On the other hand, my dyspraxia affects me in social situations but some people with dyspraxia don’t have any/not many difficulties in social situations. If you’ve met one person with dyspraxia, don’t assume that every other person you meet with dyspraxia will be exactly the same.
7. You don’t ‘grow out’ of dyspraxia.
Due to little understanding of dyspraxia, people often think that it’s something we’ll ‘grow out of’. Years ago it was known as ‘clumsy child syndrome’, suggesting that it only affects children. This is not the case at all. Yes, for some tasks we may work out our own way of doing things but we certainly don’t ‘grow out of it’. Dyspraxia affects adults too, children with dyspraxia grow up to become adults with dyspraxia.
8. You can’t tell someone has dyspraxia just by looking at them.
Dyspraxia is a hidden condition. If you know enough about dyspraxia you may be able to tell someone has it by the way that they behave/do things over a certain period of time, but if you were to meet someone with dyspraxia for the first time you wouldn’t be able to tell they have it straight away just by looking at them.
9. Our brains have to work 10x harder than everyone else’s.
Our brains have to put so much more effort in to perform everyday tasks compared to other people. This means we can become tired much more easily and quickly than other people. As well as the extra effort that is required anyway, it also can take us much longer to perform these tasks than others – therefore using up even more effort!
10. There are positives to being dyspraxic, such as: being determined, thinking outside the box, and long term memory.
Being dyspraxic is not all bad! It may be more difficult for us to do certain things, but that makes us more determined to get them done! We’re often creative and think of things from a different perspective. Plus, despite short term memory being difficult our long term memory is often really good! I have no idea how or why that is, but I’m not complaining – I like being able to clearly remember stuff from years ago that other people wouldn’t remember! And there’s always plenty of amusing moments, whether that’s managing to squirt ketchup on your jeans instead of the hotdog (yes, I did that a few weeks ago) or finally saying “I get it!” five minutes after a joke has been said because you took it too literally at first.
Thank you so much for reading this! Also, thank you so much to everyone who’s read my other blogs too, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I started blogging! I really do hope lots of awareness is raised this week!