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LDDA - The Liberal Democrat Disability Association

My battle with dyspraxia

September 4, 2014 10:54 PM
In http://alliemag.co.uk/my-battle-with-dyspraxia/

Looking at me, you would think I'm a normal nineteen-year-old girl. Which in some ways I am; I go clubbing, I love shopping, I have no shame in being a One Direction fan, I have a boyfriend and I'm studying for a degree. However, all of my life I have suffered from dyspraxia; a condition that provides me with daily obstacles, but it won't stop me from going far.

Dyspraxia is generally looked upon as an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It can cause problems with speech, spacial awareness and perception of thought. There is no known cause for the condition however research suggests it is due to an immaturity of neurone development in the brain.

Dyspraxia can affect all aspects of a person's life; intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically. From having difficulties riding a bicycle, to having problems coping in social situations and being prone to low self-esteem.

Despite the fact I wasn't diagnosed with the condition until I was 10 years-old, my family always knew that there was something different about me. I was constantly bumping into things and falling over, it took me much longer than the average child to learn how to ride a bike, and I found it very difficult to make friends: being rejected by other children became normal to me.

School was a nightmare. I was bullied from the age of 4-16 and made very little friends. From a very young age I found it very hard to interact and communicate with other children. I would often cry when my parents dropped me off at school and when 'playtime' came, other kids would run away from me and call me a 'weirdo' or a 'freak'. Things weren't much better in lessons either, teachers would often shout at me for my slow completion of class work, as well as my limited concentration and bad listening skills. Nobody knew that these things were due to my dyspraxia and it's needless to say that my self-esteem was very much affected.

High-school was much worse. The bullying became more personal and my self-esteem got even lower. I had a limited amount of 'friends' and the ones I did have would often join in with the bullies or attempt not to be seen with me in both embarrassment and even fear that they would be bullied too. My appearance was often at the centre of the bullies' jokes; I was tall for my age, suffered from severe acne, had frizzy hair and braces. This, together with my lack of confidence and difficulty to communicate with other children, made me a prime target for bullies. I found it hard to speak in class, I struggled to listen to teachers properly and was often criticised by teachers for the slow pace at which I worked. Despite trying to do many things at once I would struggle to do more than one thing at a time properly. This frustrated me as I knew I had the ability to do these things and I knew I was intelligent, but I just couldn't keep up with everyone else.

However, I was determined to not let my dyspraxia get in the way of my future and was strong-minded about proving the bullies and my teachers wrong. I began dancing; one of the hardest tasks a dyspraxia sufferer can do as it tests all aspects of your co-ordination and movement abilities. However I practiced hard and performed in many dance shows around Birmingham and won various awards. I started to see a dyspraxia specialist who helped me overcome my co-ordination and spacial awareness problems. I also started seeing a speech therapist, which helped me try and get over my inability to control the way I spoke. I worked extra hard to gain good GCSE's and A levels by spending hours in the library for days upon end and managed to get 12 GCSE's and 3 good A levels. I also knew exactly what I wanted to study at University.

I have always wanted to be a Journalist and I knew that despite the various social and emotional challenges that I would face in the job, that I would not let my condition damage my chances of getting my dream career. I got accepted into The University of Salford, where I am currently studying Journalism for the second year. I have so far put together various pieces of journalistic work for different platforms which include Print, TV and Radio. I have put my lack of confidence to one side and interviewed people from famous radio presenters to politicians. Despite my speech problems I have also recorded voiceovers for radio assessments and pieces to camera for television. I have even faced up to social challenges by living in halls and making friends with various different people, something which I previously found increasingly difficult. I even met my current boyfriend here who has raised my self-esteem substantially.

Unfortunately, people still judge me when they find out about my condition. I had to leave my previous job at a Foreign Exchange company because when my employer found out about my condition, they were very discriminative. She would say things like "why did you apply for this job when you have that condition?" and "if you'd disclosed your condition in your interview I wouldn't have given you the job." She would put me down at every opportunity. It affected my confidence a huge deal and it got to the point where I realised I didn't deserve that treatment and walked away with my dignity intact.

I'm not going to say that I have completely overcome dyspraxia; I still battle with it on a daily basis. My friends all know me as the clumsy and slow one of the bunch; but I know this as my identity now and even manage to laugh at myself about it. I still find it hard to talk in big groups of people and find social situations daunting. The fact is, that despite my flaws, I'm proud of who I am and what I've overcome, I won't let anything stand in my way now. Plus, having dyspraxia isn't all that bad- many people with it are very creative and persistent; with sufferers including Daniel Radcliffe, Florence Welch and even Albert Einstein. I know for a fact that I will not let this condition stand in the way of my happiness, I'm just as capable as everyone else. The moral of the story is to never let anybody tell you what you can and cannot do, believe you can achieve and don't judge others before you know the truth. I know for a fact I'm going to be one heck of a Journalist!