For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt stupid. It’s quite difficult for me to admit this out loud, but it’s a feeling that has been there since I was about 11. I have dyspraxia. In very simple terms, this means there are lots of things I struggle with. Really basic things, that even six-year-olds are capable of doing: dancing to music, buttoning clothes, riding a bike, catching a ball, walking in a straight line without falling over. That last one’s a real bugbear. Even my best friend’s toddler – who hasn’t yet had his second birthday – is more steady on his feet than I am.
Classified as a learning disability, dyspraxia is usually picked up by educational staff who have contact with multiple children on a daily basis and who are trained to identify developmental problems. Once this issue has been raised, the pupil is tested by a specialist and then once the diagnosis is received additional support is provided.
I didn’t grow up knowing I was dyspraxic. My problems were only discovered at 21 after I had a mental break down. By this point, I’d failed at university because I couldn’t keep track of when and where my classes and exams were and, feeling ashamed, I had left the city I’d grown up in without letting anyone know where I was. In my head I was useless – worse than useless – and every-one’s life would be better if I wasn’t in the way ruining things. When I left, I genuinely had no intention of returning – I wanted a new life, where no-one knew how much of a failure I was.
According to the NHS website, there are a number of symptoms associated with dyspraxia and these vary from person to person. Alongside problems with co-ordination, additional symptoms can include difficulties in concentration, difficulties following instructions, poor organisation and memory, alongside behavioural problems and self-esteem issues that arise from the symptoms. On top of that, problems with voice and sound control, as well as muscle weakness, can occur in those with dyspraxia.