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Dyspraxia and sense of belonging

From a very young age I've always been very aware of how different I was to those around me, in height, socially and by my body worked. When I was four I was diagnosed dyspraxic. My mum always tells me even though I found day to day day tasks (and still do) a challenge I always had a go and always been really determined. Around that age I decided to give ballet a try, grace, co-ordination and balance has never been something I've been good at (you know it's me coming up and down the stairs by how heavy footed I am.) But nevertheless I gave it a try, but it was then my mum was approached by the ballet teacher and told "was there something wrong with me? Why was I backwards?" It was from that young age my family were aware of the struggle of getting others to understand such a misunderstood hidden difficulty.

Growing up I used to go up to my mum in tears asking,"why I had never been asked to any of the other children's birthday parties? Why did nobody wanted to play with me in the playground or join in with any of the imaginary horse games I had made up? (always been one for having a good imagination) Or why nobody wanted me on their team for P.E?" I was constantly questioning to myself, "what must I have done wrong?" I simply just never fitted in, I had very different interests to my peers group, whilst the rest of the girls were starting to apply make-up and roll in drunk after a night out, I was listening to cheesy pop music, or taking my dog for a walk. I could never name you the latest trends but if you asked me to name S club 7 or Steps's back catalogue I was your girl (still very much aware of these details even today.)
I felt very anxious, lost and alone and thought it was simply just me being me and I must have been some kind of outcast given the amount of bullying which was happening which was making me feel very low and having a very negative self concept about myself and I began to self harm- not something I go into detail in any blogs but I think it's an important issue which affects many and if you are struggling there is help out there. As cringy as it sounds I never thought anyone would like me.

It wasn't till I was in my early 20's I met the first person who also had dyspraxia, it was quite a surreal experience. Around that time I was diagnosed dyslexic which made another piece of the puzzle make sense to me and why I struggled so much with spelling and why reading my uni work took me longer than others to make sense of. Quite a number of years later I attended my first of many Dyspraxia Foundation conferences. They are simply more than just a conference, they bring people together, parents, young people and adults with dyspraxia alike. On days when dyspraxia makes me have mistake, after mistake and you don't know why, or when my legs resemble the colour of a puddle from bruises. On days when anxiety makes me curl up into my duvet too scared to see the world, frustrated with my body and I end beating myself up for being curled up for being so anxious it can give you hope. Hope in those dark times that it's not just you, and that your struggles are similar to those other than you. My lovely friend Claire has written a blog about anxiety and panic attacks, she's not dyspraxics but as many dyspraxic's can struggle with them, I thought others might want a read: http://eclairscares.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/lets-talk-about-panic-attacks.html As someone who finds it difficult talking in groups and in unknown situations conferences and meet ups have also given me confidence. The amount of times I've been in a group situation being too scared in case I said something silly so I just wouldn't speak or have the confidence to form an opinion. To be able to do that has given me the courage to apply it to other situations such as: doing speeches and filming.

They also have helped me find many people who have simply "got it" I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time with the lovely Alice over the conference please have a look at her most recent blog about dyspraxia and anxiety http://mindtank.co.uk/2016/03/08/youll-be-ok/ We chatted about our own experiences of dyspraxia, anxiety and of course S club 7 (who would have thought!) One of those where have you been all my life moments. We both had our fair share of travel issues before arriving in Birmingham. But if you are dyspraxic or a parent of a dyspraxic or someone simply wanting to find out more, I think I can speak for both of us by saying, they're eyeopening and worth all the stress which often comes before. There's also quite a few online communities for those affected by dyspraxia whatever age or parents to interact with each other. Recently I've been involved with the Dyspraxia Foundation Youth group, from my own experiences growing up it's something I'm really passionate about.

The dyspraxia acceptance journey is an emotional roller coaster ride for everyone involved, it has a lot of ups, a lot of emotional and overwhelming downs, quite a lot of tangled up twists of chaos, but also a good sprinkling of creative original thinking. Even though dyspraxia is a life long difficulty and doesn't just simply go away into adulthood, all my own experiences over the years have made me determined, determined that nobody should feel alone, and that there are others out there too. This week my blog reached 90,000 views, a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there with me on my journey over the last few years. I've also very kindly been nominated for positive role model for disability at the National Diversity awards. If my blogs have helped at all would mean a lot if you voted for me https://nominate.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/Nominate/Endorse/29669?name=Rosie+Edmonson

I also know that I am not backwards nor is there something wrong with me, just different and wouldn't the world be a boring place if we were all the same. I hope whether you're reading this blog as a fellow dyspraxic, dyslexic or have a hidden difference or disability, a parent, teacher or someone who wants to find out more. Maybe you struggle with anxiety or mental health issues or just feel different, that these blogs are a little bit of encouragement for you. Thank you for helping me get the word out and helping others understand dyspraxia and thank you to all who work at The Dyspraxia Foundation for all their support, hugs and kind words.

Everybody deserves to feel like they belong somewhere in this world, that it's ok to be different and that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes I wish I could go back to tell my teenage self that days and times like this would come, and amongst the darkness, the worry and the bad which happens in life, some good can come out of it too. Never loose hope, I may not be able to tell my younger self this, but I can tell others who might be reading this now.