Guest Post- The Dyspraxic Tax Consultant @pslattery2014
You have heard about the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker. Now we have the Doctor, the midwife and the tax consultant. It might not have the same ring to it but it's still worth reading about. Following on from the recent guest post by @Hermionemidwife, I would also like to thank @dyspraxicdoctor for allowing this guest blog. I would like to introduce myself, my name is Philip @pslattery2014 to the twitterverse. I am 32 year old tax consultant based in Dublin Ireland. When not helping people rob the taxman I am normally running around West Dublin or North Kildare. I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia when I was 12. Up until that point, teachers kept saying it was a phase. At the time I was diagnosed with dyspraxia the report mentioned a hint of dyslexia, over the years a few have seen touches of Asperger’s, but neither the Dyslexia or Asperger’s have been confirmed.
I do not believe that dyspraxia has stopped me doing anything in life; I work to the motto nothing is impossible it only takes longer. After 18 years working in some form or another the only task I have been given that I have not been able to complete is changing the labels on a pricing gun. Since that task will likely not stop me one day becoming a Tax Director or Tax Partner it moves from a being challenge to the butt of a joke.
While dyspraxia has not stopped doing anything, it has given some challenges. For one, I have a dire short-term memory. I can tell you who scored the winning goal for Man Utd in the 1996 FA Cup final but if I am sent upstairs for get four items, I will come down with three items and will not remember being asked to get the fourth item.
My organisational skills are somewhat non-existent but I have tried to build in methods to help this. Task planning with Microsoft Outlook is a god send. My normal thinking is: what I am looking for is in that pile over there. I also tend to keep a lot of files near me as otherwise I won’t remember where they are.
Driving was one task that as an adult with dyspraxia was a real challenge, I realised very quickly that a manual car was not for me and swapped to an automatic. It took me three attempts but I did finally pass my driving test.
One other area where dyspraxia can affect people, and one of my weakest points, is social skills. I always find it hard to operate in crowds or anywhere with loud noise. If I am in a small group of up to three or four I can cope but anything larger I feel out of place especially as separate conversations start up. On my second day in my current job the trainees were going out for drinks and someone invited me along, my response was “I don’t drink I don’t do noise”. I came across like a twat but certainly that was not what I meant to do.
@Hermionemidwife mentioned that sleep is an important thing for someone with Dyspraxia; I would second this point. I would describe my energy levels like a battery pack that requires 8 hours of charging a night. If I don’t get the eight hours the effects can be seen the next day. As a result of this in work I need to plan my tasks to ensure that the tougher or mentally tough tasks are done early in the day when I have the concentration levels. Otherwise the level of work produced will suffer the more drained I am. To aid with this I have also found ways to do certain tasks on auto pilot. These are the simpler tasks that I would do a number of times a day like walking to the photocopier or walking from the bus stop to my house. Here I can conserve a little bit of energy that is more needed doing other tasks during the day.
What positives has Dyspraxia given me? For one, the way I think or look at something is different to most people and as a result I tend to see stuff that others have missed. In the world of tax that is a very good club to have in your bag. I also tend to be a lot more patient with people as a lot of patience was given to me when I was learning. So I am only returning the favour.
If someone was to ask me would Dyspraxia stop him or her doing anything in life I would say no. You can achieve anything that you put your mind to. Dyspraxia is not the death sentence that it once was. The days are long gone of a parent asking me about Dyspraxia limiting someone’s life. If you are in doubt look at Daniel Radcliffe or Florence Welch, who are both dyspraxic.
I hope that over time we can get a few more guest posts on this blog to show and reinforce the points I have made above- that you can do anything once you put your mind to it.
What would be my top tips for people with dyspraxia?
1. Ensure you get your 8 hours sleep
2. Have a good diet
3. Have an escape
The above three will help with your energy levels. When I talk about having an escape this is something you enjoy doing. For me it is running, whether going for an easy 5K or trying to break 3.30 for a marathon. I also find Toastmasters a great escape as it's one place where no part of my dyspraxia is showing and it allows me to be myself in the speeches I give (tax saving, mental health, parkrun and supermarket psychology are some of my recent ones). The escape releases happy chemicals into your body and these help with sleeping and your energy levels.
4. Be positive: This applies to everyone - the reason I have done everything I have aimed to do is that my parents never said I could not do something because I’m dyspraxic. I believe in removing the word 'can’t' from your vocab as nothing good can come from it.
5. The only person you should be is yourself. Don’t do activities because someone else wants you to. If someone truly wants to spend the time with you, they will. For example, I generally do not do pubs if there is a match or music on.