Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

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Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby babooshka2002 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:29 pm

I would be very interested to know what other peoples' views on this are.

Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are? I have been getting somewhere with my assessment and diagnosis recently, which is amazing, and I said to my brother that it was such a relief to have some insight and knowledge about what I am.

He expressed concern about this. Obviously he is very happy for me, but he said that he thought "what I HAVE" would be a better way to put it, rather than what I AM. My conditions do not define who I am, he says. He says he understands that they are very important, but that it's not everything - there are plenty of things that are not wrong with me.

What does everyone else think about this? I'm not thinking of what my brother said particularly, but in general. Do we have a condition/conditions? Or are we the conditions? It's tricky with things that are brain-based. Somebody can have an arthritic knee and they just have an arthritic knee. The knee is separate from them as a person and it doesn't define their personality. But we have brain-based things - how do you separate the condition from who you are as a person? Surely the condition defines who you are because the brain defines who you are?

Any thoughts?
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby Steph » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:50 pm

To me, my dyspraxia and AS have shaped who I am but they are not the whole sum of my personality, if that makes sense. They form part of who I am today but so does being the product of divorced parents, being a woman, being brought up in a white, middle class household and all my other past experiences. I have a close friend I met at uni who has Aspergers Syndrome. He is also a British Born Chinese and he feels that being brought up in this clash of cultures and being subjected to racial abuse and harassment has shaped his personality more than the AS. I think your brother is just warning you to be wary of attributing every personality trait to your condition/s. I know one young lady with Aspergers Syndrome who chose to undertake a Computing degree based on reading in textbooks on AS that Computing was a good career path for those on the autistic spectrum. Admittedly her A Level grades were good enough to secure entry onto the course but, even when she was plainly struggling with the demands of the course, she refused to think about swapping courses because she had taken the textbook she had read as gospel. I think this sort of thing is what your brother is trying to warn you against. However I have to say, when it comes to language, I will say "I'm autistic", rather than "I have autism" as I feel that the former embraces how pervasive the condition is. It is a sizeable part of my life but other factors also affect how I come across to people and how I think about myself.
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby Steph » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:51 pm

I had written a more verbose reply but I accidentally clicked "Paste" instead of "Copy" (I always have to copy everything before posting as my Internet can be very unreliable at times) and lost everything so I did as best as I could, having lost motivation to type out such a long reply again.
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby JamesStanley » Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:59 pm

I find that Dyspraxia helps to shape the way you are but it doesn't completley shape who you are there are other things such as the environment where you live and family and friends, interests and other things can all help to shape you.
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby monkey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:38 pm

it is oen part of lots of parts I think.
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:35 pm

Yes, it is a part but not the whole.
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby parnassus » Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:41 pm

Steph's post perfectly expresses how I think about my own disabilities. Autism and dyspraxia shape the way I think, how I respond to certain situations, even how I experience and express my emotions. They are not the only defining features of my personality, which is the product of a whole host of other things, but they are among the most significant.

I am hyperlexic, meaning that I taught myself to read long before the age of three, had a strong fascination with words, and faced corresponding difficulties with the social use of language. My love of words is another important part of my identity - it formed the basis for my choice of degree, it's what got me writing, it's what turned me into such a precocious reader. Ask the people who know me to describe me, and most of them will fix on my verbal ability and my wide reading almost at once. Hyperlexia is a rare aspect of ASD; without my disabilities, this way of thinking and this affinity for words just would not exist. People often try to separate my disabilities from my gifts, as though all my difficulties are caused by the conditions that I 'have' and all the abilities are just there anyway, part of 'me', the true Vicky that is somehow untouched by dyspraxia and AS. I think they're missing the point.
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby Lawzy » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:46 am

The dyspraxia is part of me but it does not define who I am. I'm not the 'dyspraxic girl' I'm Laura who has just happens to have dyspraxia. :). I think it's important to remember this.
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby Spoon » Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:03 am

I am dyspraxic. I don't 'have dyspraxia'. The way I see it is that it refers to a neurological patter in the way my brain works. So it's not an issue that I have and live with, it's an adjective to describe how my mind works and in turn what traits and difficulties I have as a result. It's not the sum of me but it's a definable part.

I think then there's also the issue of what experiences it has led me to have which have shaped who I am. So, there are elements of me that may not exist/have developed were it not for dyspraxia, but are not necessarily a by product of my dyspraxic mind.

I find this interesting at the moment because whilst I have been dyspraxic from birth I have also acquired other disabilities in the form of mental health problems (which I believe to be a secondary issue to ASD tendencies) and chronic illness. It's interesting because the chronic illness looks to be neurological too. But, that's something to be 'made better' as are the cognitive problems I have developed as a result, even though they present themselves very similarly to neurodiverse conditions (problems with word finding and reading for example).

I think whether something is acquired (getting it later in life) or congenital (from birth) makes a big difference in how you view it. I did have issues about being dyspraxic at first but the way I overcame it was by viewing myself as a 'package deal' whereby I couldn't have the good without the bad. Attempting to do that with something which is acquired is harder. The 'package' stops being your personality and starts being the illness.

I think that because people without neurodiverse conditions have not experienced life with a neurodiverse mind, they tend to view it in comparisson to their own. For them it would feel like a loss if they got these 'difficulties'. Their only reference point would be if htey acquired them, so it follows that they would only ever understand the concept of 'having' rather than 'being'. WHen you grow up with some level of awareness, I think there comes a point when dyspraxia just 'is'.


I hope this follows. I was having a bit of difficulty getting it on the page!
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby Remus » Sun Sep 12, 2010 11:05 pm

Lawzy wrote:The dyspraxia is part of me but it does not define who I am. I'm not the 'dyspraxic girl' I'm Laura who has just happens to have dyspraxia. :). I think it's important to remember this.


I'm with this 100% of the way. :P
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Re: Are dyspraxia and related conditions who we are?

Postby Dan » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:41 am

If we have a standard template brain and call it Jane Doe and then just tweak various elements of the brain we create billions of different personalities. Dyspraxia is a set of commonly recognised "glitches" in the brain you could argue. As a result of this I'd say that yes, dyspraxia definitely defines who I am to a certain extent.

Obviously dyspraxia cannot entirely define me as a person because there are many more differences between mine and other dyspraxic people's brains that cannot be labelled. If we called everybody without learning disabilities "normals" then the same logic applies. We cannot claim that these people are all who they are as a result of not having learning disabilities.

I think labelling is important for some and not for others. I will sometimes find comfort in my diagnosis when I struggle with something that is a result of it but I still maintain that I CAN do it and other dyspraxics will have varying degrees of this problem.

Finally, there's the issue of environment (nature vs nurture). Personality can be shaped significantly by environment (events, upbringing and such) and although all events will be influenced by dyspraxia in some way, our innate personality will mature similarly in most cases.

If someone asked me to define myself in three words, I certainly wouldn't list dyspraxia because it offers no scope of who I really am, what I stand for and what I am like.
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