I dedicate this page to sufferers of dyspraxia
all over the world.
I have Dyspraxia, a disability which means messages
to and from the brain are not transmitted properly. The cause of
Dyspraxia is unknown but it may be caused by poor development of
nerve cells in the brain. Up to 7% of the British population have
dyspraxia and 70% of them are male.
Dyspraxia is a disability but it does not make you
look disabled. This is a good thing but can also sometimes
cause confusion and misunderstanding because people do not understand
your difficulties. Often, this can lead to bullying and discrimination
by adults and children.
Poor short term memory. E.g. If given a list
of instructions to carry out, may remember the first and last
one but not the ones in between .
Difficulty throwing and catching a ball
Awkward walking and running.
Can't skip or hop
Have trouble learning or may never be able to
ride a bike.
Sensitive to touch. E.g. uncomfortable brushing
your teeth, brushing hair and having it cut, certain clothes
uncomfortable to wear. Also, if people touch me, it makes my
skin itch like mad! One other thing, the feel of certain foods
in my mouth is unbearable e.g. mashed potato drives me crazy!
Poor Concentration. E.g. easily distracted by
background noise in a classroom
Poorly organised. E.g. leaving things you need
for school at home
Have trouble learning new tasks and may never
be able to do tasks such as football.
Bump into objects or people by accident, but
it doesn't go down very well!
These are just some of the things people with dyspraxia
suffer. They may not have all of them but will certainly have many
of them. Dyspraxia effects every day of a sufferers life, for life
and it can't be cured! There are therapies, such as physiotherapy
and occupational therapy, which may help some people.
Dyspraxia does not make you thick or stupid. In fact
you may be very clever or even gifted!
Here is a description of what it feels like for someone
with Dyspraxia to walk through a crowded shopping centre - written
by Vicky aged 17.
Ask them to imagine their high street on a Saturday
morning. People chatting, weaving in and out of shops, smoking,
eating food, talking into telephones. When they've got the idea,
tell them this:
Some people don't see crowds as individual people, but as one huge
seething mess that sucks them in. They have to physically work out
how to bypass people, and they often misjudge distances and bump
into things. These people naturally hate being touched. The texture
of someone else's clothing brushes their cheek, it's a texture that
they can't stand, and they start to feel sick. They think, "These
strangers have no right to invade other people's space - stand back
from me!" Fragments of conversation are pulsing through their
heads. Everyone else can block out background babble, but these
people can't anditsoundsalldistortedandyoustartotpanicsomuch. Cars
are zooming by with huge roaring noises and the floor seems to lurch.
The smell of cigarette smoke is thick and irritating and they can't
cope. Smells, sights, and sound all jumble together to form a messy
porridge that gunges up their brain and they can't THINK. No wonder
it's scary. How would this particular teacher/relative cope if their
mind suddenly short-circuited and they were plunged into what feels
like a torture chamber?
How Dyspraxia Affects My Life
Dyspraxia affects every part of my life, from when I wake, until
I go to sleep. Many able bodied people, can carry out the following
simple things with ease and without thinking too hard about it:
Preparing food and drink
Eating and drinking
Walking through crowds
Washing and dressing
I am able bodied. I do not use a wheelchair, I have full use of
my arms and legs, in fact I look completely "normal",
but for me, carrying out the above tasks requires extra concentration
and I often do them wrong. For example, while pouring a drink of
orange juice, it will miss the cup! I don't know why, but the cup
never seems to be where I think it is. Then there is getting dressed,
my shoelaces never stay done up! As for socks, how do you get the
heal of the sock on your heal? Now using a knife and fork, that's
interesting! Cutting food can be a nightmare and spreading butter
on toast, well that's always fun. Walking through a crowded shopping
centre is a real challenge, dodging all the mums with pushchairs,
people with cigarettes dangling in my face (I am quite short for
my age) toddlers, etc. It is rare I don't bump into someone and
upset them. As for following a list of instructions, if I was asked
to go upstairs and get a pencil, some paper, a text book and an
eraser, by the time I got upstairs, I would have forgotten what
I went up for, and come down just with the pencil!
Anything that requires co-ordination of movement or thought, even
a simple thing that many take for granted, causes me difficulties
throughout my day. It does become very frustrating, because I know
what I want to do but my body sometimes lets me down.
Some True Stories
One day I was in a well known children's clothes store with my
mum and sister. My mum, asked me to stand aside, as she needed to
measure some trousers against my sister. The shop had a window display
and the front door opened against it. I stepped back and leant against
what I thought was the door. The next moment, I found myself sprawled
in the window display among the carefully dressed child mannequins.
The assistant bustled over. She didn't ask if I was alright, she
just gave me a hard stare and tried to sort out the display. Mum
asked me to go outside while she apologised and explained it was
an accident. I said I was sorry and left the shop. Outside, there
were two elderly ladies, who had obviously watched the "entertainment"
I had provided but were not impressed! They held a conversation,
loudly so I could hear, about my "bad" behaviour. I can
understand their reaction but I think people are too quick to judge
without knowing the facts. They assumed I was being naughty and
this is a typical reaction. I'm not perfect, but most of my disasters
happen by accident. I was embarrassed already but they made the
One day the family paid a visit to Warwick Castle and my sister,
Clare, and I were allowed to go off on our own. Clare was running
ahead and I was trying to catch her up when I bumped into an elderly
lady, who turned to me with a real look of disgust on her face and
told me not to push. I said I was sorry but she ignored me and carried
on. I really was sorry but often when I say sorry, people think
I am apologising for "My Bad Behaviour."
Your time starts now
When I was still at school, I was preparing for my Year Six SATS.
We had 15 Minutes to plan a story and 45 minutes to write it. That
day, the teacher was explaining about the test. I had heard it all
before, and I was finding it hard to concentrate on what she was
saying. I went off into a dream about a computer game I had been
playing the night before. Then I had a bright idea. I decided I
would incorporate the game into my story and I had some brilliant
ideas. 20 minutes after the test had begun, I still had not finished
my plan. I was gripping my pen really hard and my hand hurt, I was
trying really hard to get my thoughts down, I knew that I would
be in trouble if I didn't get it down on paper in 40 minutes. I
had a mixture of sweat and tears of frustration pouring down my
face. The ideas were going out of my head one by one. Soon I had
10 minutes, left. It was going too quick for me. Soon, the test
was over and I had not finished. Still, I was proud of what I had
done. The teacher was not. She ignored the good things about it
and told me if I didn't finish in the proper test, I would fail.
I was disappointed because I wanted so much to show what I was made
I was in the local shopping centre with my Mum and Dad, and we
had to go up an escalator to get to the car park. I DON'T like escalators
anyway. I hate them. I just can't time getting on and off. Anyway,
I stepped and looked down, to see my shoe lace staring up at me,
undone. I thought "Oh well I'll do it up when we get off".
So I got to the top and suddenly I nearly tripped myself up for
some reason. I tried to just walk off but it was like someone had
grabbed hold of my leg and would not let go. I looked down to discover
my shoe lace was caught in the gap between the moving steps and
the floor. I had visions of explaining to the fire brigade how I
had got myself in this position!
"Come on Matthew, stop dawdling!"
"Come on, stop messing about."
"But mum, I'M STUCK!"
She turned round, took one look, and started pulling on my arm.
Dad, meanwhile, managed to pull the lace out of the gap. It wasn't
funny at the time. On the contrary, I was very embarrassed. When
I got out of shopping centre, I had to laugh. I had to admit that
it must have been hilarious to see me stood at the top of an escalator
tripping myself up tugging my foot rather hysterically!
For me laces are a hazard. However tight I tie them, they always
Living with dyspraxia is hard, but I have learnt to adjust and
cope. The most difficult thing to deal with is other peoples reaction
and impatience. I wish people were more understanding and tolerant
towards people who are different from themselves.