Need help? Feel that you're the only one? Here is all the information you need to survive being a teenager with Dyspraxia!
Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:11 pm
Somewhere in my teen years, a somewhat troublesome idea began meandering through my mind -- I wasn't like other people. It wasn't that I was better than them, or worse; I was just different. My coordination, perception, and math skills were atrocious, but that didn't really matter... What did was the fundamental and nagging idea that I was flawed somehow. It was something that I couldn't explain.
Come to think of it, there were a lot of things that I couldn't explain. People asked why I didn't drive. Telling them that it scared me got me a firm "Get over it." Saying that it was hard to steer was reciprocated by a firm "You need more practice. It's an attitude problem." When I told them that I was always afraid that I would "fall" off the road, or run into telephone poles, people didn't know what to say. It was hard to explain why I put clothes on inside-out, or why I couldn't cut with a knife, or how I could possibly have thought that the washing machine actually ate socks (but the person who said it didn't sound like they were joking!). Despite living in the same town for nearly ten years, I couldn't tell an inquirer how to get to local stores that I went to weekly. My ability to get lost was legendary. I still counted on my fingers to do math, and learned if my clothes matched by rote memorizing outfit combinations.
Maybe people thought I was a strange child. Speech therapy mostly cured my speech impediment, but it popped (and still does) up occasionally. Adult conversation was so much more fun to listen to than that of my peers. I have to admit that I was unconsciously snobby. Later, I realized that I shouldn't feel that way, and tried to interact more with my peers. Books were my passion. I hated most games, but was blessed to have several unusually understanding and sympathetic P.E. teachers (I once was supposed to hit volleyball over a net in P.E. It was supposed to be an easy way for pupils to improve their grade. When the teacher saw that I truly couldn't do it, even after repeated attempts, she conveniently "forgets" about the quiz grade and let me skip out on it). Children's memory games were out due to my poor short term memory, and I especially disliked puzzles. I couldn't tell if pieces went together unless I physically tried putting them together, even if they were very dissimilar. Then, I would forget what combinations that I had already tried, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat...In a two hour time period, I might fit two pieces together.
For some reason, I was sometimes told that I was smart. I fiercely disagreed. I knew that I could remember facts, which was tremendously handy in history and science, but my perfectionist attitude toward life told me that I was stupid. What did it matter if I could get an A in history if I couldn't carry on a decent conversation or tie my shoes with any ease?
At the age of nineteen, I received an answer to all the questions: I had Dyspraxia. I was elated. I was also horrified. Now, instead of just having a creative mind, I had a disability. I tormented myself with thoughts like I am different. I can never act like other people. My problems are obvious. I will never fit it. No! How do I unsign up! I went on a tremendous research campaign. The more I found out, the more "ridiculous" it became. There might as well have been a Dyspraxia factory somewhere! I half expected to find a tag on the back of my neck, because the traits I read on websites fit me to a T. My love of reading, my food preference (how did they know I didn't like mashed potatoes?), even my preference of using bed sheets in the summer, were displayed on the web.
Three years have passed since then. My attitude now is, "I'm thankful to be Dyspraxic!" I now know that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, some people will make comments, and some will not understand. But, I know consider myself privileged. Not everyone gets to have the unique perspective that comes with Dyspraxia. Not everyone in the world experiences the satisfying thrill of learning how to do something that other people consider really easy (for example, I became comfortable with zippering my coat last year! : - ) ). Two factors contributed to my change of attitude. One was a lot of praying, and coming to the conclusion that my being Dyspraxic was part of God's plan for my life, and I could trust Him with it! The other was through talking to a number of supportive friends who loved me anyway (one friend said she loved me more because of my Dyspraxia).
Yesterday, I broke my hairbrush when I dropped it for the umpteenth time. I went on a hunt for a pair of slippers that I was wearing. But, I also made my bed neatly and organized two boxes in my room. Dyspraxia has both its advantage and disadvantages, but I am going to focus on the good!