When I was 19 I was officially diagnosed with dyspraxia, a lesser known cousin of dyslexia. I should probably start by trying to explain what exactly dyspraxia is. Officially it’s a developmental disorder that affects movement and coordination, however it’s slightly more than that. If you go to The Dyspraxia Foundation there’s a whole list of symptoms, affecting many different aspects of daily life. I find that the easiest way of describing it for me is that sometimes messages that are coming in get lost or confused on the way to my brain, and sometimes messages from my brain to the rest of my body get lost in translation.
Getting my diagnosis was a huge relief for me, it explained so many things I’d struggled with growing up and helped me access the help I needed. It explained why I was always terrible at P.E., especially anything involving balls. It explained how I could forget some things as soon as I hear them and then remember other things seemingly forever. It explained why I often missed social cues and struggled with eye contact (side note; dyspraxia is often found in conjunction with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, as there’s some overlap in symptoms). It explained why my grades dropped as soon as I actually started having to write essays.
As I got older it got easier to manage and I’ve developed my own coping strategies, some more irritating than others, for example if I’m given instructions I have to repeat the full set of instructions back exactly right before I’ll complete the task. I’ve learnt how to make my own day to day life easier, which honestly involves a whole lot of routines, keeping things I need in the same place and where I can see them, and setting a ton of reminders. It doesn’t always work, especially not if I’m tired or stressed. I’m still able to walk into doorways that haven’t moved in 20 years, and sometimes my emotional regulation goes out of the window and I have what I semi-affectionately call my “toddler temper tantrums”. (Apologies to anyone who has had to bear witness to one of these, I’m probably more embarrassed and frustrated about it than you are).
Another benefit to having a diagnosis means that I can connect with other people with dyspraxia and discuss ‘dyspraxic things’. The other day I managed to find a whole Tumblr thread about dyspraxia where people were sharing their experiences. It genuinely made me so happy to find other people who ‘get it’, who share the same worries, fears, and experiences. Who see the world the same way you do, and sometimes, that’s all you need. People to understand.