Social Skills (or The Lack Of Them)

Chat with others about dyspraxia and share your experiences.

Postby Vicky » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:24 pm

Like many dyspraxics, I am very logical. Almost to a fault. My parents and a handful of empathetic teachers often comment on my 'kindness', praise my 'politeness', and remark on how original they find me, while other teachers dismiss me as a lazy overgrown kid with an attitude problem. How can I be both things? The bullies that populated by school life for so many years would call me 'stupid' one minute and 'swotty' the next. Again, how can I be both? I came in the top five students nationally for my English GCSE exam. When I ranked so high amongst half a million candidates for my skill with words, then why is it that I can't communicate with other people face-to-face and feel like I need a translator to talk?!


I am fighting to gain some kind of foothold on this slippery social terrain. The majority of other seventeen-year-olds (my birthday was two weeks yesterday - I am now a mighty 17!!) like to go out clubbing - they can pretty much pass for eighteen - in horrendous environments that I would never dare to set foot in because I quite like my brain the way it is. I don't want it to explode in the midst of a malestrom of pointless blaring noise and flashing light and bad, alien smells. Or they like to sit in a room applying nail varnish and gossiping inanely about boys. Well, to be perfectly honest I'd rather sit and watch ice melt. I don't think purple shimmery stripes down the middle of my fingers looks too good, and that's where the polish ends up!

As for the gossiping inanely about boys...hmm, that is not my thing either. Right now I am more into detesting them with every fibre of my being. (Matt excepted, seeing as he has provided me with a place to rant!) I did have one very close friend who also happened to be male. I believe that he must be on the autistic spectrum somewhere because he is so very different to everyone else in this muddled-up place. But he is very tactful and thoughtful and expects others to share the same qualities - and I can't always be like this, as dyspraxia often clouds my vision and I blurt out things that I either didn't realise were inappropriate or didn't convey the correct meaning.

Anyhow, the short and short of it is that that friendship dissolved, along with several others. I cannot reasonably explain to other people that my DCD means I can't always interpret what they say, especially when I have a reputation for being phenomenal in the English classroom. My excuse for this is that a book is much safer and kinder than a person. So, in the words of William Wordsworth, "I wander'd lonely as a cloud" - feeling as damp and dreay as a cloud, and with about as much purpose, I might add - and have yet to come across any hosts of golden daffodils.

I love my dyspraxia normally. It makes me the unique person that I am. But at other times the knowledge that I am invisibly different, and will continue to be so for my whole life, pulls me down.

I just thought I would like to share this depressing communique. Sounds as if squeaky out-of-tune violins should be screeching down the octave in the background, doesn't it?

Yours, feeling like a wet kipper,

P.S. Matt - you wanted to use my sensory integration description somewhere on your website. Please feel free to take it - I'm proud to help your site in any way, it does such a good job. :)

Postby Matthew A-F » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:24 pm

Hi Vicky,

In my opinion, you've hit the nail right on the head. That's exactly how I feel when trying to make friends. It's not through lack of trying, but if I try and make friends with someone, it usually ends up with them thinking I'm weird. Sometimes though, I'm successful and I'll make a friend. My advice to you folks is that if you find a good friend, stick with them.

With regard to the bullies bullying you about being thick one minute and being smart the next, it just shows you what sad little individuals they are. If it's that their having a go at you for being smart, their jealous. If it's having a go at you for being thick, they don't understand or won't understand that you aren't stupid or thick, but that you have a disability which makes things harder for you. As for being picked on for both, come on people! Why don't you go and find something that's worth doing, other than picking on someone just for the hell of it?

I'm going to put what you've written on my personal stories page. You are a great writer and you really get the point across. If I didn't know what dyspraxia was and how someone who has it felt, I think reading something you'd written would probably make me understand.

Take care

Matthew A-F

Postby Elen » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:24 pm

The truth is that everyone is different and is good at doing different things. Having a dissability like dyspraxia may stop you from doing certain things as well as other people but everyone has a talent. Vicky is an amazing writer despite her dyspraxia maybe even because of it. Dyspraxia is a different way of thinking and a very unique one too. Someone on the autistic spectrum may not be able to communicate well with other people or show their feelings but so many autistic people have extroardinary talents. Talents that they appear to be born with. Would you prefer to be average at everything or to be bad at something and have such a brilliant talent for something else.

Postby Abby » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:25 pm

I have the same problem aswell with making new friends. for ages I've thought that it was just me being obsesive about convincing myself that my friends just didn't like me and now Vicky and Matt have started talking about social skills I have realised that my friends in Dance Band, possibly work aswell are not engaging me as much as there friends in conversation and making up excuse when I invite them to go shopping with me in the weekend or ice skating or something because they find me too wierd and different. Thanks for bringing it up on the message board. :(

Postby elen » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:25 pm

Comtinued (i pressed the wrong button)
Feeling different can make anyone feel isolated and alone as can finding sometihing difficult but if you take your talents and develope them then people will look past it and see ur strengths rather than your weaknesses. You will find people just like you and make friends with them. Matt you may be dyspraxic and you say you have difficulty socialising but look at your site. You've brought hope to thousands and your courage has shown people what they can really acomplish. You know how to talk to people.
I apologise if ive got the complete wrong end of the stick here. I'm not dyspraxic (as far as i know) I'm not trying to tell u I know how you feel. I just want you to know that there will always be people u will meet who dont understand but there will be many more who do or will take the time to. Hold on to your talents and show the world what you're made of.
I'm facinated by the way the mind works. I dont think a dissability is a DISability at all. Imagine a completely average mind. Take a little of the good stuff from one part (in the case of dyspraxia, co ordinarion and socialising) and put it somewhere else to make an amazing talent (maybe drawing or writing) uve then got an extroardinary mind. I'm making no sense at all and I'm blabbing here so i will shut up now!
p.s i found a brilliant letter in a magazine which touched me. I will show it to you when I find it!)

Postby Dyspraxic Fantastic » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:26 pm

Hi all,

Elen you make perfect sense! I have just been reading what every1 has written here and I agree with all of it.

Vicky I have to thank-you for what you wrote. I am five months younger than you and sometimes I feel like I am the only teenage girl ever who doesn't like shopping, clubbing, make-up or boys.

I am very 'what you see is what you get'. I try to be polite but I never put an act. I am always genuine and true to myself and don't bother with make up or anything like that. I believe what matters is on the inside I would NEVER judge someone by how they look or how they speak or how clever they are etc. just on how nice a person they are but not everyone in this world feels the same, unfortunetly.

I am currently doing a chidl care course. I think the fact that I am so truthful and don't care how I look etc is why I get on so well with children and I find them easier to talk to than adults. However I know that to look after children I HAVE to be an adult and I HAVE to be able to talk to adults too. I think since doing this course my confidence in talking to adults has improved and I'm glad.

I agree with Elen. Everyone has talents. Vicky, you are an amazing writer and describe things so well. That's just one obvious one of yours.

Charlotte x x x
Dyspraxic Fantastic

Postby Vicky » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:27 pm

Thank you for the words of comfort, everyone. I needed that :)

Today I'm feeling much more like my usual self, possibly because I am working fast and furiously and seem to be generating good results. My English teacher was absolutely terrified of my essay proposal last week, thinking that the title would lead me into trouble. It is very rare when Mr H can't even pick out one good thing about an essay proposal and his apprehension is catching. But me having the stubborness and tenacity of Balaam's donkey, I stuck with my idea and he is pleased with the result. I just need to perform liposuction on it (I'm a few hundred words over the word limit, but not worry!) and then I'll be OK. For some reason, my social skills go downhill when I have a lot of study to complete - possibly because I find planning and organising my time very difficult and don't have time for chitchat, possibly because I get fatigued easily, possibly because I approach school with a different attitude to others. I don't just enjoy my principal subject (English) I'm obsessed with it, and apparently my classmates find this level of obsession quite unnerving...

This is where I believe my dyspraxia overlaps with Asperger's Syndrome. Nothing matters, the world ceases to turn, life stops, when I'm thinking about English and literature and how language works. When I was working on my book, I sat down at nine o'clock in the morning and wrote and researched all day, rushing from laptop screen to library and back again. It was only the next day, when my knees buckled and my legs went weak, that I realised I hadn't eaten since Friday night. (This was on Sunday morning.) I am that obsessed. I can't remember to feed myself when I'm wading through writing. So I wouldn't have much time for friends - even if I had the social skills to make them. The only person who really understands the degree of my need to study language is my best friend Sobia, who is currently three thousand miles away and so about as useful as a chocolate fireguard...

Postby Spoon Girl » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:27 pm

I'm happy to know I'm not the only one who finds it difficult talking to adults....strange as I'm an actor and find it easy enough talking to younger people so long as they treat me with respect. I blank out if they look down at me! I want to be a comedienne lol. It's elen by the way, I just registered.
Spoon Girl

Postby Big D » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:29 pm

Hi Elen.

When I was younger, my friends all laughed at me when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they're not laughing now are they!

Bob Monkhouse.

I think Bob says it all!

Big D

Postby Spoon Girl » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:30 pm

Technically they are laughing :P sorry had to
Spoon Girl

Postby Charlotte » Mon May 03, 2004 11:12 am

Sometimes it's not so much that I find it difficult to talk to people, it's that I don't seem to be able to pick up on body language like other people can. If people don't tell me what they're feeling I find it hard to know sometimes just by looking at them. For example, if I tell someone something and they don't reply sometimes I think they havewn't heard so I keep on telling them until they do reply (usually it's saying something like 'shut-up!')

Over the years, I've sort of taught myself to look at people and try and work out what they're feeling and to always think before I say anything. (That's another thing I used to do, say whatever came into my head out loud and sometimes it sounded terrible.)

Postby May I try to help » Sat May 15, 2004 10:12 pm

Hi, I have recently gained a few social skills, I Know how you feel, and I really get what your saying with blocking out some of what people say, I have some advice that may help you, i still don't have many friends but im getting there i think:

1. Don't try to please everyone, its imposable

2. Try to have things to say, like maybe what you did at the weekend, Jokes, Currant News... ect

3 Try to make eye contact with people who you are trying to speek to, its not aggressive.

4 maybe ask more questions, then people will speak to you and that’s positive

5 don't be afraid to try to convey what your feeling.

6. Try to speak up, make yourself heard

I have left school now, With language skills like yours you should do realy well, Good luck!
May I try to help

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