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Dyspraxia Speech


Tuesday February 3rd 2004

In December 2003, I received an email from a man called Vernon Noel, from MK Borough Council, telling me that he was running a project called Positive Images. The aim of the project was the promotion of positive images of persons likely to suffer discrimination in society - addressing areas of disability, race, gender, culture, sexuality, physical & mental health, religion, etc.

Vernon had read my website and thought it would be great if I would take part in his project by going into a school and talking to them about my experiences of dyspraxia and peoples reactions towards me.

So, I showed the email to Mum, who gave me the go ahead. I phoned Vernon, telling him I'd love to take part in the project. He explained what the project was all about and told me he'd get back to me at a later date. For a while, I heard nothing from Vernon, until 25th January 2004. I received an email form him, asking me if it was ok for me to speak to Leon School's Year 8 Classes on the 3rd of February! So, I agreed and began to put together a speech.

10 days later I was stood in the hall being introduced to 200 children by Vernon. I walked up to the table and started to arrange my notes, which were printed on cards. I thought I had finished and was about to start speaking, when I realised that the cards were in the wrong order! I felt terrified! I calmed down and looked up at the audience of children and said, "Just amuse yourselves for a minute!"

Eventually I managed to get sorted out and then began my speech.

"I have dyspraxia!" I began.

"Hands up who's heard of it?" Two teachers put their hands up.

"One or two people but not many. That is usually the reaction I get!" I continued. I went on to explain what dyspraxia is and who it effects me. Then, I told them a couple of stories. At one point, I was talking about my 'tumbling into the window display' incident. In my minds eye, this is what I imagined would happen:

Me: I stood aside and leant on a glass door. (pause) Which wasn't there.

(Audience burst out laughing.)

However, what really happened was very different. I said,

"I stood aside and leant on a glass door. Which wasn't there."

No one laughed.

At this point, I was feeling a little bit nervous! They were supposed to be laughing, allowing me to go into my bit about how it's funny now, but I was very embarrassed at the time. But, they weren't laughing! Eeek!

I pulled myself together after a moment and continued,

"It sounds funny now, I know, but at the time I was very embarrassed."

I continued my speech, talking about the fact I was bullied at school, how I came to set up my website, how I had achieved so much now, etc. I ended with this very thoughtful sentence:

"Having dyspraxia makes many things difficult for me, but it has also allowed me to do many positive things. Without dyspraxia, I would never have done them."

When I'd finished, one of the teachers stood up and told the audience that he thought I had shown real courage in standing up and talking to them all about my disability and my difficulties and that he knew that not many of the children there could have done it. He then thanked me for speaking to them. I had a lump in my throat at this point, so I said "I'd like to thank you for allowing me to take part in this project and talk to you." And I really meant it. I really did enjoy it deep down! ;-)

To read the whole speech, Click Here