As I’ve mentioned before in my blog, I was diagnosed with dyspraxia at an early age. In fact, I found out the exact date the other day – 20th July 2000, which is when I was 3 years old. Growing up with dyspraxia, I always thought it was rare and I think my parents thought the same too. I didn’t know anyone else who had dyspraxia, and no-one else seemed to know what it was or had even heard of it before. At the start of secondary school, when I also started to take part in disability athletics I began to hear of other people who had dyspraxia too. I then realised that maybe it wasn’t as rare as I had originally thought…
More recently in the past couple of years, I began to find out more about dyspraxia online – through other people’s blogs, the Dyspraxia Foundation website etc. I was surprised when I found out just how common dyspraxia is! It’s difficult to give an exact number, for various reasons, but it is estimated that around 5-10% of the population have dyspraxia – so dyspraxia is actually a lot more common than many people might think!
That’s between 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 people. So to put this in perspective, how does this relate to other conditons? It is estimated (again, it is not possible to give an exact number) that in the UK: 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, 1 in 100 people have autism, and 1 in 400 people have cerebral palsy.
So that means that dyspraxia is: almost as common as dyslexia, 10 times more common than autism, and 40 times more common than cerebral palsy! What makes this surprising is that while most people will have heard of dyslexia, autism and cerebral palsy before, not many people will have heard of dyspraxia before.
Although this is not always the case, as it can be hidden, cerebral palsy is often a visible disability, so that may explain why more people have heard of it before. However, dyslexia and autism are hidden, so the same reason can’t be applied to them. It is difficult to know the exact reasons for why there is such little awareness of dyspraxia, despite how common it is. On the positive side, there is much more awareness of dyspraxia than there used to be – maybe in the future it will be something that most people have heard of!
For people who are reading this who don’t have dyspraxia, I think something important to remember is that it is likely that you will know at least one other person, or even more, with dyspraxia. You may be sat there thinking, “But I don’t know anyone with dyspraxia…”. This is the moment when I realise everyone will be sat there thinking “No we’re not thinking that, because I’m reading this blog post so technically I do know someone with dyspraxia…you.” So, if you don’t know me personally then think of someone you personally know who has dyspraxia. And if you do know me personally, then…well, just think of someone other than me who has dyspraxia.
Anyway, I’ve gone off topic. So if you’re sat there thinking “But I don’t know anyone with dyspraxia…” then consider the fact that maybe you do. It could be that there is someone you know who has dyspraxia who just isn’t open about it, or maybe they don’t even know about it themselves so haven’t been diagnosed with it. Or it could be that there is/was someone in your class at school who is dyspraxic. Although it is important to be aware of all disabilities, whether they are common or rare, it is important to remember that having dyspraxia isn’t uncommon. So, for example, if someone is struggling to get across what they are trying to say, struggles to eat their lunch without spilling it down themselves, or isn’t making a lot of eye contact then consider the fact that there may be a reason behind it, they may be dyspraxic. I’m not saying you should go round labelling everyone dyspraxic based off just one trait, that would be silly, but it is important to be open-minded and remember that just because lots of people don’t know what dyspraxia is, that doesn’t mean it’s not common.
And for those of you who are reading this who are dyspraxic, hopefully the fact that dyspraxia is more common than many people think makes you realise that you’re not a minority, there are so many other dyspraxic people out there!