What's it like to live with Dyspraxia?
Imagine you are running late for a train. You dash into the station, frantically looking at the display screen to work out what platform your train is on. Just as you catch sight of your train listed, the screen goes on to the next page so you can’t be sure you saw the right number. You’ve got to risk it anyway because your train is about to leave. Where is platform 3? You haven’t been to this station before. It’s loud and busy, and you keep bumping into people trying to find your way. Rushing to the platform, you trip and drop the papers you’re carrying. Embarrassed, you quickly gather them up and just about manage to get on the train. Success! Except then you realise you must’ve dropped your ticket in the rush. And you’re on the wrong train.
Sounds chaotic and tiring, doesn’t it? This happens to everyone sometimes, but it is the reality of life day-to-day for someone living with Dyspraxia. It’s a disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 20 people. It’s something I was born with, but it’s a hidden disability and most people haven’t even heard of it. I try to explain it to people as a cousin of the better understood dyslexia – it's the movement version of dyslexia! It has a lot of overlap with other members of the neurodiverse family; Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette’s, to name a few. They are separated into different diagnoses because this is how psychiatry understands conditions, but there are a lot of symptoms which are shared, and a lot of people who have more than one diagnosis. They are a family because they are all thought to be developmental conditions affecting the brain, and they all seem to have an element of ‘thinking differently’ from the general population.
At times I appreciate the positives of having Dyspraxia, but that doesn’t stop it from being overwhelmingly frustrating, tiring and stressful at times. Occasionally I wonder what life would be like without Dyspraxia, I think it would be easier, but actually a lot more boring! Maybe you are reading this because you have Dyspraxia and want to understand how to live with it better, or you have a friend, partner or child with it. There isn’t much awareness, understanding and patience for us out there, so my aim in writing this is to help that in a small way. I’ve lived with Dyspraxia for 32 years, but I missed the time when it was known about in schools, and I’m a girl – all of which contributed to me struggling without an understanding until I had a late diagnosis as an adult.
Despite having quite severe difficulties (my motor skills are in the bottom 1% of the population) I’ve managed to make a success of (most of!) my days, I feel happy and accepting of my uniqueness most of the time and I am determined to help other people feel the same. It’s been a long road making it this far and I have certainly had more than my fair share of setbacks en route! That being said, I feel I am fortunate to have trained and worked as a doctor over the years, so I am armed with lived experience and the knowledge and understanding to back it up. I’d like to help other people with Dyspraxia with tips for how to manage those struggles, big and small, and also increase the understanding the people around them have of their inner difficulties.
I’m going to be blogging about the strengths of Dyspraxia next (it’s important to start positive!) so please subscribe to be updated with each post. I plan to cover things people like me commonly struggle with and helpful strategies for living with these every day.
Let me know if there’s a specific topic you’d like more information on and I’ll try to include it in my blog at some point!
Dr Emma Tremaine trained as a medical doctor and psychiatrist before starting up a social enterprise specialising in comprehensively supporting adults and young people with Dyspraxia (The Dyspraxic Doctor). She also provides regular emotional and social skills therapy for children and young people who have a neurodevelopmental diagnosis (including Autism/Aspergers and ADHD). Dr Emma has Dyspraxia herself and is a passionate writer and speaker about neurodiversity, mental health and her own experience becoming a doctor with a hidden disability. She also enjoys horse riding, yoga, amateur sewing and making people laugh.