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Dyspraxia Awareness Week July 2024 By Carmen

So what is Dyspraxia? It’s known as a developmental co-ordination disorder. It affects both children and adults. Well of course it does, we grow up. Except, what is it like if you were not diagnosed as a child?


Dyspraxia does not affect your intelligence. It can affect your co-ordination skills – such as tasks requiring balance, playing sports or learning to drive a car. Dyspraxia can also affect your fine motor skills, such as writing or using small objects. It can affect your daily living skills and ability to write, draw, type. Fun fact, I can only type one handed. I’m typing this up as we speak with one hand flying all over the keyboard. My dyspraxia means I cannot coordinate both hands on a keyboard. It always looks strange to others and I have to explain why I’m differently abled. And why it takes me slightly longer to type compared to people that can type with both hands.


Back in the 70’s, Dyspraxia wasn’t exactly on anyone’s radar. I was known as the clumsy child. I dropped glasses, plates, balls etc. I constantly slipped, tripped or fell. Including the times I would walk home from the park dripping with blood and mum would have to take me to A&E. I still end up in A&E. Usually after I’ve accidentally burned myself in the kitchen, fell down the stairs and need x-rays, wound debridement from falling over and usually a side shot of antibiotics. Even then, it still wasn’t picked up. Now I’m more than a clumsy adult. I’m dyspraxic. 

My parents tried to improve my balance and coordination by putting me into different exercise classes. A catalogue of horrors ensued, karate, gymnastics, ice skating and tap dance. Let’s just say the teachers would take mum aside after a few weeks and every time, they would tell her that their class wasn’t suitable for me. No one thought about why I struggled and no exercise teacher ever recommended what might work. I was just the clumsy child. And the constant refrain of “Look where you are going!” or “Pay Attention to what you’re doing!”. And no matter how many times I said (albeit tearfully) that I was trying, there was this overwhelming fear of disappointment.

As a teenager and young adult my confidence was diminished. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be one of the cool kids playing pool. I couldn’t dance. In fact, on more than one occasion I was told I waddled like a penguin. Just what every teenage girl wants to hear. Not. I was still the clumsy child. 

I’ve walked into lampposts. I’ve fallen crossing the road and only lived to tell the tale because the drivers emergency braked. So now I always use zebra crossings. I’ve had to endure aestheticians asking me if I was being abused because every time I go to get waxed, I always get comments on the cuts and bruises all over my legs. I’ve even fallen off the therapy beds. I’ve fallen both up and down stairs. I’ve given myself concussions. The injury list is endless.

My dyspraxia was picked up by my Neurologist in 2019. Ironically I was seeing him for migraines, and he asked me to walk across the room. I did say that I would find it difficult… and it was. He then asked me to do a number of other tasks before telling me that I was Dyspraxic. At first, I was stunned. But the more I read about it, the more everything about my physical world made sense. 

I was late diagnosed autistic in 2017 and all I really knew were the related ADHD and Dyslexia. No one ever talked to me about Dyspraxia. I firmly believe that after an Autism diagnosis, there should be a follow up process to assess for other neurodivergent pathologies. 

As an adult, I’ve found what works for me. Floor yoga, so I’m not balancing upright on my legs, Barre classes, because there is a barre to hold on to and a teacher that knows I’m dyspraxic. She’s also a Sport Scientist and we have had private PT we’re we work a lot on building muscle memory. She works with me and my body. Swimming in lanes, although I still meander in the lane but I have a barrier to work within. 

And there have been disasters. Boxing classes where every time I was punched, I flew backwards and fell on my bum. That was not fun, and it hurt despite my ample cushioning. Body Pump where I couldn’t coordinate lifts and curls. Circuit Training because there’s no time to learn each activity. And so forth. It’s about finding what works for you. And what worked for me was changing my mindset of ‘How can I do this?’ before thinking about ‘This will help manage my fitness’. Rather than the mantra of ‘you must exercise’. And I’ll be honest, the sense of joy and pride when you can actually do a physical activity that you thought were beyond reach, it definitely releases additional endorphins.

And I’ve learned what helps me. I have to wear proper shoes in the kitchen because I always drop things and my poor toes and feet were permanently bruised, cut and sore. I know that every time I chop an onion, I’m going to cut myself, so I get the plasters out before I start. I have 3 different First Aid skits: generic, a burn kit and a kit for bandages and dressings. These are always kept fully stocked.

But accidents still happen. 

My most recent adventure was baking a cake. Somehow, between lifting the cake pan from my kitchen counter to go in the oven… I lost my grip and it exploded. Cake mixture all over the counter, my cooker, my oven as the oven door was open, my floor and me. All over my hair, face and hands. There’s that moment of shock and horror. Then I either laugh or cry. Sometimes both. And then there’s the inevitable clean up. And sheer grit and determination to start again and get it right. 

I’ve learned that gel manicures harden my nail which improves my finger grips. My normal nails end up torn and bent backwards without the gel. I soon realised how often I grabbed things to hold onto because my fingers and nails no longer look battered.

If there’s an option of a lift instead of stairs. I take the lift. I don’t care if people think I’m being lazy. I’m not. I’m being careful. I have to be. Where I’ve fallen so much, I’ve permanently damaged my right knee. My ligaments are calcified and I have to rely on physio and steroid injections. 

The clumsy child is now a clumsy adult. And that’s fine with me. Because I know why.

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