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Coping with Dyspraxia: some useful tips

Dyspraxia effects my life in all sorts of ways, but I have found some things which make life a little easier. I would like to share them with you below.

Clothes

  • In trouble with the teacher for tripping over your shoe laces... again? They are such a pain to do up, so until I had mastered laces, I had shoes with Velcro fasteners.

  • Always doing up your shirt buttons in the wrong holes? Stick to T-shirts and shirts with no buttons.

  • Don't those labels in clothes just itch like mad? When I have new clothes I always cut the labels out.

  • If buttons and zips on trousers trouble you, then try to stick to elasticised trousers. They are more comfortable anyway.

  • To avoid putting on odd socks in the morning, keep them paired up in your drawer. I am lucky, my mum does it for me!

Writing

  • Try different pens to find out which is most comfortable for you to write with I avoid cartridge pens. I tend to use the following: biro, Rollerball, gel pens and pencil. If possible, I tend to use a pencil. I can rub it out if I make a mistake, it isn't messy and I can write quicker with it.

  • I practice my writing by copying a favourite poem, rather than copying out lines of letters, which can get very boring! When they are finished, my poems are displayed. My mum sticks them on the fridge with a magnet, or we send them to Nan for her to read. Sometimes she even frames them.

  • Now, I do most of my work on my computer. I find I can get my thoughts down quicker and complete my work faster. If you are given homework, etc, then ask your teacher if it is alright for you to do it on the computer. Who knows, you might get the work done quicker.

  • When doing maths calculations, I find that I can't really line up the columns very well. It plays havoc with my calculations! I use squared paper and then find it easier to line up the columns. That way I stand a chance of getting my sums right!

Organisation

  • Have a place for everything. E.g. I use pencil pots and plastic containers of different sizes, labelled if need be. Now I can find everything I need.

  • Make lists of things to remember and pin them on a notice board or attach to the fridge using a magnet.

  • Post-it notes are useful as well. I use them to mark pages in books, stick them on the front door to remember things I need to take with me when I am going out, etc.

  • When people are giving me instructions I find that if I ask them to slow down and give one instruction at a time, I have more of a chance of remembering what I am supposed to. Never be ashamed to ask people to repeat what they said, or to write it down.

  • Have a family notice board, where your can check what is going on in the household. Having a calendar and an organiser has also helped me.

Confidence and Self Esteem

  • Find an interest that you really enjoy, then try to join any local groups connected with that interest, e.g. wildlife conservation groups, drama groups, history societies, etc. Before joining the group, speak with the organisers and tell them you have dyspraxia and what difficulties it causes you.

  • I have joined a drama group, where I have made friends and can be myself. I believe joining a good drama group can really help boost your self belief. You can't make a mistake in drama, because it is all about your own interpretation and improvisation. For example, if you trip over or have forgotten your lines, and say something else instead, the audience will think it is part of the act. Drama also allows you to express your feelings and get rid of any frustration that has collected during the week.

Senses

  • Does brushing your hair make you feel uncomfortable or even hurt? I have my hair cut regularly to a number two or three, to save having to brush it every day. I just wash and wear! If you find having your hair cut very uncomfortable, let your hair dresser know. If they know about your dyspraxia, then they will be more gentle.

  • I personally find the feel of some foods in my mouth unbearable. This one is easily sorted! Avoid the foods that you can't stand! If you possibly can, take packed lunches to school. Then you can take what you enjoy.

  • If you, like me hate the feel of a toothbrush on your teeth, or it hurts when you grip your toothbrush, then use an electric toothbrush. I have only recently discovered how much it helps. Cleaning my teeth has become much easier.

Physical activities

  • Most people with dyspraxia will have trouble learning to hop, skip, jump, etc. For me, physiotherapy helped and after lots of practice, I learnt some new skills, although I will never be a sportsman! Some may never be able to achieve these goals, but lets face it, how many people do you see hopping to the bus stop?!

When all else fails for me, I retire to my room for some "Robbie Williams Therapy". His music is a real inspiration to me and even on the hardest days, his music cheers me up.

Remember that all of you out there have many things you are really good at, so try to stop worrying about the things you struggle with. One more thing, I have learnt over time that there will always be people who can't and wont understand dyspraxia. When you meet them, remember this, they are the ones with the real problem, not you!

Just enjoy life and be who you want to be.