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Dyspraxia- Introductory Post to my blog 

This is the post excerpt.

Hi, I’m Sam. You may know that already. However, what you may not know are the ways dyspraxia has affected my life since I was diagnosed, aged 16 (nearly 17). I’m going to start blogging to show you the experiences that I have faced, some of which I have conquered, some of which I may not have done and to raise awareness of dyspraxia. 

NED… What is that?

Today is NED!

No… Not you, Flanders!

It’s National Empathy Day.

Empathy is a key value of people I believe, and I am always trying to develop this further within myself.

It’s often something that causes me a lot of mental strain because of the way I am, but I try to understand or relate to other people and what circumstances they are in.

With how Dyspraxia affects me, I’m slightly less say, forgiving as some may be. But that’s down to personal experience that I’ve had in interpersonal connections. So I’m often wary of who I give the time of day to.

That’s not to say I don’t do all I can to support people. Because I do! Once I find people who I can “let in” and trust, I will show them empathy and do all I can to be there for them at all times.

After all, this is what empathy is all about. I often use this quote “we are all battling through a storm at some stages of life, but we are guiding ourselves through this in different boats.” I love this quote and it really just reinforces the point that you may not entirely understand someone’s circumstances, but being there to listen *free of judgement is what people need.

I’m doing everything to remove the judgement. It’s a double edged sword for me. Due to different scenarios I’ve been in before, I will never let my kindness be mistaken for a weakness… Ever again! Which is why, as I say, if I believe I can wholeheartedly trust someone, I shall afford them the empathy and a listening ear. And hopefully, just hopefully, my connection with said person could last a lifetime.

Of course, for people like myself, what many don’t actually understand is that sometimes we can end up putting a lot of energy into being empathetic, that we turn into the person in question rather than being on the outside looking in. This then sets off the emotions and then the sheer possibility that I or someone like me could end up being more emotionally connected to the situation than the person we are listening to or trying to connect with.

So, as I say, empathy is a great value to have and people that do have it in bucket loads, that is something to be proud of. Because it will encourage more people to believe that you have what it takes to be a friend. There’s many directions this could go, which is why I feel balance is important, despite it being a day to celebrate something that is a strength of many Dyspraxic people.

Something else that I’m currently doing in fact to help myself learn more about the art of empathy, is a counselling skills course. I am very much enjoying this and developing some key knowledge that could prove very useful later on.

There are many things I want to achieve and get involved in to help different communities to grow and develop. Empathy will play a huge role in this process and I can safely say it’s something that will be very much on show throughout the journey.

Virtual relationships during lockdown- the trustworthy vibe Vs ghosting

These circumstances have presented opportunities for me to connect with people I’d either not connected with for a long time… Or never before.

It has been nice to have been introduced to a couple of new people during this time, albeit in a distant fashion.

On the other hand, it’s also made me feel like I’ve been ghosted yet again by a number of people who I thought were friends. I just don’t get it. They seem to get the wrong idea with the meaning of distant. No, it doesn’t mean don’t speak to someone for a decade then crawl back when you want something.

Minus a select group of people I have seemingly found a decent connection with, I become very withdrawn once I feel ghosted. It may seem like I am almost a ruthless person who doesn’t give people a chance, but in fact it’s completely the opposite. I have a certain number of friends who are the same storm as me so to speak, but in a slightly different boat, or maybe in a storm of a larger scale and being in a very similar boat.

The margins are fine. For me, during lockdown, everyone may have a million and one different things going on in their life. Maybe it’s my shallow understanding in play here, but surely being less “busy” means a chance to sit down and connect with others even if it is “virtually”. I’m now at the point due to lack of response from a number of messages since lockdown began, that I now interpret no response within 6 days as rude and a very quick goodbye would follow with the thought in my head: “You’ve had 6 days to do whatever else is important and I’m sorry I thought you and I had a connection.”

Virtual works for me… Sometimes. Of course, like everyone else, I’m a social being who just so happens to be quite introverted. So, essentially, the whole physically distancing rule- YES, PHYSICALLY (NOT SOCIALLY, BECAUSE ITS THE WRONG TERM) doesn’t have as big an impact on me as it would many others. However, I do maintain a level of excitement once lockdown measures are non existent anymore, about going to places such as crazy golf, an ice skating rink and a restaurant to name 3.

I have experienced both sides of the coin during lockdown, which I still feel slightly concerned about. Like, how on earth could anyone sink so low as to make someone feel ghosted during a period when less people are being productive- again, right wording (not busy).

My wish is that the way the culture has (hopefully) changed will remain forever now. People won’t be busy anymore. They’ll be productive instead. They’ll get the right things done rather than rushing around frantically to please anyone but themselves. Hopefully, humanity will become more important over anything else. It’d take a fool not to think the same. That way, with people having more time, hopefully ghosting could be less of a thing. Because it isn’t a good feeling to even predict “there’s another person who clearly isn’t bothered about me in the slightest.”

Of course, I don’t discount family relationships, family is important. Glad we’ve established that, you probably started to wonder whether I would cut people slack or not. I can be empathetic. It just isn’t always evident. Plus, I can become more attached to an emotional situation than the person who should be more emotional about the thing in question. But, surely there comes a point here. Some people will be alone at this moment in time, so surely it’s counter productive to not respond to someone unless your circumstances are completely out of the ordinary.

I have often had this very quick approach to relationships that’s a black and white thing. I’m either engaged or withdrawn. Friends or not friends. I like simplicity. I’m slowly losing it with complexity. So I have no time for acquaintances. I like the people I like, and want nothing to do with those I don’t like.

Having acquaintances to me, means that you have the sort of people surrounding you and it’s just like a whole world of empty words. Words with no substance or a lot less meaning than real friends. The sort of words which could be described as saying you want to meet up (pre pandemic) but not actually arranging anything. Or saying sorry for something but not actually seeming so.

Again, my understanding may be more limited, I may be quick to send people packing, whether that’s good or bad, in everyone’s own situation, they are the judge. So to me, I’m doing the right thing by moving away from people who clearly aren’t that interested in being friends, or there’d be more contact, regardless of the pandemic or not.

Without the pandemic, I’d pretty much be in the exact same thought process. While I’m beginning to perhaps think about meeting a couple of new people in person over the next few months providing it’s safe to do so, I just hope they remain and give me the same energy I give them. Equal give and take to a friendship… Surely that’s not too much to ask?

As far as I know, I’m no energy sapper. Surely an energy sapper loses energy themselves anyway, right? They bore people away in the blink of an eye. But I start to believe it’s not that that’s the problem. What I do begin to believe, is that this is the fault of this whole PC world we now live in. Where there are becoming so many things that divide people, rather than unite people. I can’t help being one of those who stands up and will take my time to absolutely hammer down and react to anything I absolutely don’t believe in at all. And then people will view me in a whole different way and all hell breaks lose, especially for my mind. Because I end up getting overwhelmed by thinking I’m always in the wrong, when I actually know it’s the PC brigade who contribute to that.

It’s part of the process. I’m learning. Like everyone else. What I hope is that I don’t start to get the wrong idea of what I’m actually learning. Because what I’m learning is that apparently, I have to now be careful otherwise it’s curtains on potential opportunities that could be out there. Just because I’m not an expert in understanding what the world is. Of course, I have my own understanding that I believe to the T. But this often isn’t shared amongst the wider community and perhaps this is the whole bigger picture I’m failing to see.

Determined as I am to develop a better understanding of many situations, it’s not a safe place for people to start telling me what the rules are. Because I’m Dyspraxic, and my intention is to scrap the rule books. The ones that don’t matter, obviously. Not the ones that do.

Types of difficult exercises for a Dyspraxic that I have risen to the challenge of doing… What’s my superpower?

In a time of isolation, comes a time to try and curb what’s going on in my head. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some days I haven’t even felt like the first thing on my mind is exercise. But I have changed my mind since attempting to do things that I used to see myself being made a fool of for trying. I’m not scared of attempting the more difficult exercises at this point.

Today I wanted to share a few of the exercises that for me, and people with Dyspraxia, due to low muscle tone (often an invisible aspect of an already hidden difference), find that bit more challenging to even attempt let alone get right. I often see these videos of these fitness gurus who can perfect these exercises. I just make the decision now to try. Because I’ll never be an expert but am happy to join in with a community who are using exercise as a form of escape. So here are some of these exercises that I have attempted recently.

Burpee Lunge Jumps

No, not burpee lunch jumps (something that sounds like burping on the way to the cupboard for food), burpee lunge jumps. These are a challenge because of the overall speed of the exercise. I try to challenge myself to do 6 in 30 seconds every time and try and go one better. The lunge jumps are the more challenging bit, but also, the speed becomes tricky. With Burpees, you usually try to do them in 3 motions. I end up doing 4. I have no shame in that and just try and do it anyway because I’d rather try and get the movement and form of the exercise right rather than rush it.

Push-ups

Push-ups have always been one of the most challenging exercises for me because I used to have absolutely zero core strength. So I’d just immediately flop down onto the floor. Nowadays, I think I’m less of an embarrassment at this exercise, but would rather not have the company of anybody watching me do them. I struggle to keep my back in a straight position rather than arched but I still want to try because it’s important to attempt something and learn from the experience. Because you’ll soon enough get it right, I think.

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches are another one where I find it a challenge to contract the core muscles while keeping my legs above the ground. It’s a slower exercise which is better but also a lot tougher on the abs as you’re stretching from one side to the other, bringing the elbows up to the knees. I would say out of the more difficult ones, this is the one I’ve become most confident at.

Squat Jumps

Squat Jumps really fire up the legs. Whenever I do a workout each day, I always do the squat jumps to push myself that extra yard rather than take it easy and go for plain squats. On occasion, especially during a workout focused on the legs, I get quite tired halfway through a set of Squat Jumps, but I try to power it through until the end. It’s the strength I’m gradually building that is helping me endure the tearing of my legs as I go through these.

Side Plank

Oh, these are tough. These really work your obliques especially and the glutes. It’s tough to not drop down halfway through for me. But I try to just keep contracting the muscles for those extra few seconds. It certainly pays off in the end. The other day I attempted to hold a side plank for a minute on both sides, which was tough… But well worth it. Keeping my feet locked in the side plank position is the biggest challenge for this to start with, as my feet have a tendency to move and have an outwardly facing thing going on. But I don’t let it deter me.

These are just a few of the exercises that I have become more confident with recently and have made me want to keep it going for especially the sake of my own mind.

What lockdown has taught me as a Dyspraxic

This current phase we are going through is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. It is not only confusing, but isolating, monotonous and restrictive too.

But there’s a way around. I always believe there is a way. As a Dyspraxic, changes to routine aren’t exactly always something I welcome. However, the ability to try doing something different is an essential skill in life. Today I want to talk about some things I have taken upon the challenge to do

Changing my fitness routine

PE with Joe Wicks. This has been an interesting alternative to my usual gym routines. I’d not actually done any cardio exercises for a few months (besides walking of course). But these workouts every weekday, plus the various other workouts such as the HIIT workouts and 7 days of sweat challenge, I’ve not avoided doing the extra. To be honest, I have come a long way with regards to this. I am now doing exercises I never even imagined doing because I look like a complete embarrassment doing them. These are exercises such as press-ups and Burpees and also lunge jumps. Due to Dyspraxia, posture was once a huge issue for me. I was not going to shy away from trying these exercises and trying my best to copy the professionals who I’m learning from. Slowly, I’ve become more confident with these exercises and am pushing myself more each day to go more intense. No rest for the wicked as they say!

Think of a way to play hockey

It always occurred to me that I owned a hockey stick and never had the chance to do anything with it. So, putting one of the Dyspraxic strengths of mine which often floats in the background (creativity) to the test, I built my own goal using a wash basket and various objects to make it more challenging for me to score. This has been such great fun and I’ve spent hours playing in order to curb the feelings of anxiety surrounding what’s currently going on. A little creativity can go a long way. Sometimes creativity is a very black and white thing for me. I always judge creativity as an art form such as drawing or painting. But I decided to exercise some creative thinking to create my own fun.

Calling a stranger to check up on them

I take a lot of pride in looking after the community and helping other people. But this doesn’t come without the challenges of communication. As part of an initiative set up by my local rugby club, I willingly volunteered to call someone each day once lockdown begun, who has been on their own. For me, phone calls can present an extra challenge because I can’t examine social queues and I don’t know when it’s who’s turn to talk. But it has been a pleasure for me to be able to talk to someone new to help them even ever so slightly lift their spirits. I will always give back to the community and continue to help people. I can sometimes be a very quiet person because I want to avoid the awkwardness that social situations sometimes present. But then again, I want to develop the confidence. So I always try to approach these situations with positivity and almost just try to be spontaneous with it and enjoy the moment.

These are the 3 main things I have done to push myself on a little further and to learn ways to create, essentially, something out of nothing.

Jumping through hoops… Of fire!

I know what you’re all thinking. I’m about to tell a story of my Britain’s Got Talent act for this year. Sorry to disappoint you.

When it comes to neurodiversity, I don’t think that even at this point we are far enough into a time where people with hidden disabilities are given the platform to thrive. And that could be in any environment at all.

Nobody should have to conform to “the expected”. Us neurodiverse breed should be able to achieve what we need to achieve without having someone else dictate how we do that.

I often have a very difficult time (with regards to my mental health) understanding who I am and understanding how I work. But even though I find it difficult to attach to a particular identity all the time because I feel like I have to very quickly shut down at times… I know how I work better than anyone else! And so would anyone else in my shoes. If it works for us… That should be ok.

The reason I talk about jumping through hoops of fire is this. I don’t have a high level of confidence by default. I have recently been through a very tiring period of anxiety and depression. I am essentially finding a way to achieve all I set out to do while feeling very limited. So rather than actually “jumping through hoops of fire”, I feel more like I’m finding my trademark slow and methodical way of clambering carefully through the hoops of fire so that I don’t get burnt.

That’s the thing though. I feel like the fire follows to a lot of environments. What I mean by this is that I often feel under intense pressure and scrutiny to please others and make sure they view me in a positive way. That’s by no means any easy feat when you have Dyspraxia as well as the mental health challenges.

It’s the classic “sink or swim” scenario to me. I feel like many neuro-diverse people are pretty much set up to fail. And those people will probably feel exactly like me. Perhaps the sort of situation where you feel like you’re sinking in quicksand and are just feeling helpless to try and lift yourself out of it. That, or feeling like you’ve been pushed into the deep end of a pool and you have no armbands. So you’ll essentially be teaching yourself how to manage in these situations because you’re not given the tools to be able to overcome such tricky situations.

To give credit where credit is due, I do believe that some people do go out of their way to try and help. But there’s always the issue of clarity and then again being forced into a situation that’s been problematic so many times before so you’re pretty much destined to fail yet again due to no fault of your own.

Something else that’s the subject of a lot of mental strain for me is feeling within my rights to ask for reasonable adjustments and to basically try to negotiate and “drive a hard bargain” in order to create an environment where I can thrive. It’s difficult for the lot of us! I’m pretty certain everyone within the neuro-diverse community would say the same that they constantly feel on edge when it comes to discussing reasonable adjustments because they don’t want to make those “above them” feel uncomfortable or that they’re putting themselves out in order to help us thrive in any situation.

Sometimes, I just think, do what you can. Because at this point I don’t have the trust or belief that things will drastically change and that we won’t have to conform to “the expected” anymore. So I will continue to do this and will always do the maximum within my capabilities to show what I can do. Then the ball is in the other person or people’s court. That’s the situation that I want to remain. So the onus is on the typical world… To provide answers!

The building blocks

When you’re creating something, building a house, creating a work of art of some kind… The overall plan has to start somewhere.

It often includes lots of things you don’t really perhaps think about at the time. This certainly applies to me, anyway.

I could very often be described as someone who’d run before they could walk or either fall behind because of being unaware of what the pieces of the puzzle essentially are.

My nose is often pressed too close to the canvas so to speak. I often strive to find what the bigger picture is… But don’t necessarily see it straight away.

There are goals and aspirations I have to do certain things and sometimes I get I guess, unintentionally giddy about certain things thinking it could lead to something quite easily. I guess one has to break a pessimistic approach to life eventually even though it’s a little naïve. I’m still young (whatever that’s classes as these days) and I’m still learning. Nobody ever stops learning.

When I talk about building blocks, I think about things such as confidence, interpersonal skills (which could fall under the confidence category), experience, ability to adapt, planning and a variety of other things. These are just off the top of my head.

It’s a bit like a pyramid. You’ve got the key aspect of what you’re aiming for at the top and all the smaller pieces that link to it that create that bigger picture.

For a while I’ve had this feeling that I wish I could find a way to fuse excitement and pressure. Because these are 2 emotions, if you can call them that, which are a regular thing for me. I’m excited to meet new people (I think), and with these things admittedly comes a pressure. That million dollar question “how will I fit in?”

I guess one could say you just kind of make a place your own so to speak. A place or environment is what you make of it. You just be you, do what you need to do and treat people the way you would want to be treated. But being Dyspraxic is a lot more than that. All these thoughts do arise for sure but when you’re new somewhere and don’t feel particularly confident in expressing yourself to the fullest, I feel that the true authenticity is lost. But that can definitely be found again with time.

As confused as my mind gets at times, what is for certain is that with learning new things, trying new things to see what fits, I will gain a lot more awareness of where the right place is, who the right people are and how I can show myself, just like everyone else should be able to show… Their true, authentic self.

Thank goodness for…

Today I wanted to write about something which I’ve certainly not talked about as much as many other things. The power of… A lanyard!!!

Who would’ve thought it, a simple bit of ribbon type material could play such a massive difference in helping those with hidden disabilities.

Certain supermarkets have the procedure in place and have sunflower patterned lanyards. I think this is helpful as they are more visible with the pattern on them, therefore people will be able to assist anyone when the need is there.

Lanyards are also given to people with hidden disabilities at airports too. Though more discreetly coloured, it’s still a good idea and as long as the people in the airport can identify people with hidden disabilities, this is great.

People in an airport may need help with certain information regarding their flight and being given information about the area for departures so that you aren’t in a mad panic about things when it gets closer to the time. If you’re like me, you’d be taking the couple of hours before a flight to relax and have a walk round some of the shops to pass time. By wearing a lanyard, this would help all parties in these situations as you’re more likely to be understood if there was a problem.

The same applies to a supermarket really. Sometimes it’s the mad panic of forgetting things even if I’m certain of the things I need. Sometimes it’s trying to find the best deals for products within my budget which becomes the challenging bit. I’m very slow to see deals like one which included a subscription of some kind to Now TV with a video game I got. I was just too caught up in the moment to realise this but was also focused on the task at hand, which at the time, was to actually stock up on my favourite “breakfast fruits” (the video game was just a bonus).

Sensory overload can also be an issue in supermarkets for some people. Something which I’ve experienced the odd time but not regularly.

My main issue is standing around for ages wanting to ask someone a question a typical person would find easy to ask such as “I was wandering when you will have the next issue of this magazine in stock as the newest issue was released 2 days ago and the previous issue is still on the shelf.” The reason I find this difficult is I feel like when I say this, I feel like I’m criticising them, which is something I really don’t want to do and something I want to learn a lot more about is the art of communication.

Because communication is an art. And some people paint a masterpiece with this. But it’s not always easy for people. And again, wearing the lanyards that supermarkets have available helps people like me to feel a little more at ease when approaching someone to ask something rather than feel like a waste of space.

Next comes the education. People who work in such environments that I’ve mentioned will obviously have extensive training into hidden disabilities. But the thing is, these things are different for everyone. Some people like me who have Dyspraxia will find it easy to ask a question. Because they’re solution focused and know that without asking you won’t get.

Some of my breed will feel too anxious when in situations to ask a question because they feel like they are wasting someone’s time when maybe certain answers seem clear as the light of day. That… Or, because we wish for people to not be disturbed doing a job because I definitely do not like being disturbed or distracted from my routine.

I guess in some ways it’s showing the empathy to people who may have been in similar situations themselves, under pressure to get something done. Except, what people in a supermarket are doing is more important because, essentially, their life could depend on it. And for that I have a lot of respect.

So, personally, I’d love to try and explain to people in these environments what my personal story with Dyspraxia is and how it might potentially affect me in said environment. The way I would choose to do this is to attach my Dyspraxia keyring card onto the lanyard to show.

The biggest problem for me, is that anyone could go into a supermarket and say “could I have a lanyard please?” Of course, people in said environment pretty much have to trust people, otherwise, as I said, the thing people potentially depend on could be taken away from them. Ultimately, it comes down to trust and also respect. Because, it’s up to the people to trust a recipient of a lanyard that they do in fact have a hidden disability and aren’t lying about it. Because… Believe me… I’m sure some people would and it pains me to say of course it does.

But once an owner of a lanyard, it would be good to see respect given and also some education would be great to see as well. I don’t look at the situation and think about vulnerability, because this is the start of something positive to help understanding of these things rise to new heights. I’d hate to think people wearing a lanyard, if they try to educate people about it, would be ridiculed for doing so.

I guess it’s the big question to be asked. How do we as a society push the right buttons to make it a world where people with hidden disabilities can educate people if they so choose to and not be labelled as vulnerable for sharing information. Well… How on earth are we going to get that support with sharing things. Sharing is caring… Right?

What people with Dyspraxia would love would be…

People with Dyspraxia would love many things. I think if we were granted 3 wishes by a genie we would have a difficult time picking just 3, considering we are still to this day a poorly understood breed. At least, this is what I am lead to believe after reading about some experiences and listening (which will feature somewhere along the line) to people for however long it takes… To tell the full story or however much of that story they’re willing to share. Listening and reading about times where perhaps the person feeling content in the world wasn’t really something they could control due to no fault of their own. So, I want to run through some basic rules so to speak, of how to master connecting with someone like me… Anyone remotely similar to me in personality… Or just someone else who has Dyspraxia, baring in mind potential overlaps with autism, Asperger’s, ASD, ADD and ADHD. So what would Dyspraxic people love?

Grown-up shoes without laces

Wait, hang on a minute. This compromises the priority. Without laces, people no longer have to wait those precious few extra seconds for us to get ready in the morning before we throw ourselves into whatever lies ahead. No more boring people to death. Velcro would be quite nice though. Maybe it could be a 2020 trend setter? Velcro shoes. Get rid of laces. And instead… Me and my tribe could just spend 2 hours doing up velcro shoes instead and wait for the magic to happen.

Plates with different compartments

Handbags have different compartments… So why not plates? Some people don’t want all their food so close together that some of potentially falls off the plate resulting in mess. Either, plates should be bigger, or plates should be made in bulk that have separate compartments so then all the food on a plate (when you so please) would be in a different section. This also links in with certain textures not fitting right with us as well. This would be a great refreshing change. This would be a change people like me would actually support. Unlike on some occasions being forced to merely accept change that we hate.

Not being given false hope at a young age

To be honest, this is a pretty general one, but one that personally, I don’t like. Most if not all kids will say “I dream of doing this”, “I dream of doing that”. But there’s not enough information out there about life after that or what if it doesn’t happen. Obviously that is a pessimists view, otherwise known as my thought process but to me it shouldn’t go either way. I’m not saying at all that you should be told to not pursue things, but you shouldn’t be told that you’ll 100% achieve your dream of being a firefighter, doctor or pilot. Because, you know, sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes you just know over time when something isn’t for you. And that’s ok. Contrary to what people like me sometimes get told.It’s not easy being told that you have a strength for something. Because more than likely, you’ll need to do so much more to pursue something that links to it, rather than actually being given the opportunity. We are the risk takers. The others are not. There are many different things we could try and then find out that it doesn’t fit. It’s a bit like an item of clothing. It would be a bit like if I went and got a tie dye green and yellow t-shirt. It probably wouldn’t suit me. But sometimes jumping into something that I can do quicker that’s more challenging is the way that not only I go, but fellow Dyspraxic people take that route too. We are spontaneous. Spontaneity is one of the little remaining things to hold onto so that like we are actually built to do… Explore. I can’t help it, and my fellow community can’t help it… If we decide very quickly that something isn’t for us. That’s called attention to detail and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. The one time where I feel me and my tribe know ourselves best.

Being listened to

Short and sweet for you. Look, I get it. Sometimes, people like me do not get to the point that quickly. Welcome to the life of a neuro-diverse person trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to construct something to say. Some people like me may be introverted, may not speak much. But when they do, you can bet your life that we will say something worth the air time and something worth listening to. Controversial at times… Maybe. But what would the world be without controversy?I have spoken to a few people who are part of my tribe, and they have had at times, the exact same experience as me. Having to speak for 2 hours to try and get through to someone who’s had the best part of quite a long time to fathom that people like us see the world differently. It’s not the typical persons job to frown. It’s their job to listen. Part of Dyspraxia means that people like me will listen intently but one, we find it difficult to process information and two, we interpret typical people differently. Because they are TYPICAL. They just do everything the normal way, fit into a normal world. For us it will never be the same. Yet we are made to act like this I feel. We are made to feel like our struggle is sometimes exactly the same. Or that we are ungrateful or something. I just don’t get it.But I for one always make an effort to listen. I may not interpret things in the “right way”. Because I might have a different opinion. Doesn’t everyone. I would give air time to someone who wanted to speak passionately about something I may not have the same level of passion in.Here’s the thing, by listening to someone speak about their passions, they are making that subject in question a lot more fun by putting their own spin on it. By speaking about it from so many angles. This is what I love. Passion. Passion fuels the mind. I’ve said this before. I’m a passion merchant and have spoken to people like me many a time. We will not back down. I mean of course finding the balance is key to this but again… Being overly passionate sometimes just reinforces a point which needs it. Or at least in my view.

We weren’t made false assumptions against or made to feel inferior for having significant challenges in particular areas

Oh this is massive. I was once told by someone that I’d failed at achieving due to my lack of eye contact. Blah, blah, blah. Lack of eye contact gets you nowhere. Said no-one ever. I mean, sometimes, whatever people like me could try, whatever “advice” we get given, some things can’t change. Some things will always be a challenge. A fear. Something that gives us restless nights thinking about.Again, I have heard people talk about eye contact in different ways which I will never experience because it’s who I am and I wouldn’t develop a sense of understanding how eye contact can be the million dollar thing between winning and losing in life. But why should it have to be this way. Why should people feel inferior for having something about them that is different.Sometimes, constructive criticism is great because it can actually help in some situations give clarity and give people like me an occasional wake-up call. But that’s not saying that works a whole lot anyway. Because it’s still criticism. And I’m sure I’m not the only Dyspraxic person who’s felt criticised when we aren’t even aware we’ve done anything wrong. And many times we’ve done nothing wrong. But people perceive us to be the reason of their downfall. Well… If it’s what people want…What I strive for every single day… Is for people like myself to be understood. I still feel like we are too far behind and too many people are losing out… Feeling like they’re finished when they’ve not even started on their journey.

We were included

Inclusion. It’s what helps build a connection. A relationship. A friendship. And when the relationship is built, it’s the best feeling. That people like me, when included, finally feel a sense of purpose. That is… When we aren’t left to rot in the proverbial cupboard under the stairs.I could make a significant bet that every Dyspraxic person would be inclusive to everyone. Because those who have a clearer and probably better vision than me… See the good in everyone. Fair play. They are the example. It doesn’t usually work the other way though. I think generally most typical people think, perhaps when on a football pitch or doing something sporty which they may think someone with a hidden disability would be rubbish at… “It’s all about me. I don’t need to include new people. I want personal glory. ” Who are they to think that. Or want that. It’s about putting others before oneself. And it’s actually quite simple.Once you make one act of kindness… The river of kindness will continue to flow. And people like me or people who maybe aren’t similar in personality with me but share the condition of Dyspraxia… Are the example to everyone else. They are the benchmark. They include everyone, make other people feel good about themselves. I’m not saying I don’t do these things, but it becomes more difficult when I feel at a massive loss in terms of confidence at connecting with the world around me. Because I feel most things I end up coming out with are deemed unimportant, irrelevant or ridiculous. Or a whole mix of things.What I would say is that if I personally witnessed inclusion and also watched other people being included and being listened to I would feel like positive change is happening. At the end of the day… It’s best for everyone and people like me would get on with the typical people of the world. Even if we would never be best friends. I’ve tried that direction before. But everything would be better I feel if there was a strategy that could be used in order to find a mutual understanding so that people agree or disagree respectfully. The right word that defines this is tact, which is admittedly something I’ve found tough even at the best of times. But something I’m constantly trying to work on and I’ve found some helpful methods of getting through this.I get it, ultimately, there’s no magic spell that’s available. But these are mostly all wishes of an interpersonal kind. Only 2 of my wishes are to do with physical objects being a lot more friendly let’s say. But with physical objects being tailor made, interpersonal connections remain a mystery. We are essentially, the mystery tribe. If we were anything else… Where would the fun be in that. We’d be giving the game away.

New Year… Same old Dyspraxic me. I love it.

I don’t fall for any of the “new year, new me” rubbish. For me, a Dyspraxic young man, I’ll be the same and will always be happy to embrace that. All the quirks… The bumps in the road… The things I take pride and joy from which may be an entirely different universe to that of a neurotypical person… It’s all part of the package.

Happy new year by the way. It has been a while since I last posted on this page. The days of January are already rolling by.

The start of a new decade. New memories, with a scattering of hilarity, clumsiness and forgetfulness. The power of 3. 3 is the magic number as they say.

Looking back on the past decade, only part 4 years of that decade I actually knew of my Dyspraxia. But I was certainly glad to know of it. Because I wouldn’t have met some of the people I’ve been so lucky and privileged to meet if I wasn’t part of this community.

There were skills I developed further during that decade though. I was able to get better at cutting food with my knife, rather than tearing at it with my fork (only on off days does this happen now when I’m just eager to eat the food on my plate rather than have to cut it up). Tying shoelaces was also something I mastered. And I just love boring people to death with how long it sometimes takes me to tie laces even to this day. I have a method. And I will stick to said method. If this bores you… I feel sorry for you for having such lofty expectations 24/7 of everything being done within the second. Learn to chill out a bit. Otherwise at some point that’ll come back to bite some.

Elsewhere in the past decade, I had times where my own artistic flair was derived from the art of spilling sauce down a t-shirt and reinventing the wheel of the whole tie dye idea. Just think of it as a quick way of being original without having to use a paint brush. Just forget that when you eat food and have a drink you have a mouth to use and spill it all down you and you’ve got one helluva product.

Let’s not forget riding my bike straight into a tree, that was a top calamity moment of the past decade. Oh believe me, that was not the first wonder on wheels to happen and it would certainly not be the last. A broken collar bone would follow because of my lack of awareness of how fast I was cycling at one point. And also other crashes. I could probably make some sort of comedy series all about my cycling adventures of scars, bruises, broken bones and nose bleeds (which were by virtue of a dog distracting me and I lost my sight of what was ahead and got scratched by a tree branch. Bad dog)

You’ve got to laugh. If you don’t laugh you cry. And of course, at the point where I broke my collar bone and thought my shoulder was going to fall off… I did let a few tears fall. But the bigger picture of all these times on my bike. It just makes me laugh more than anything. I mean… What did I really think would happen if I I cycled straight towards a tree. Did I think like Harry Potter running into Platform 9 and 3/4 that I’d somehow cycle into a whole other universe. It beats me.

2015 was by far the best recent year I’ve had in the past decade. Purely because I feel I achieved something that I didn’t feel a whole lot of confidence to do. I passed 6 GCSEs (5 GCSEs and 1 BTEC equivalent). This was without extra time. I tried to find effective ways to revise and it seemed to work for the most part. I felt that part of this would propel me to inherit more of a sense of resolve, resilience and perhaps wisdom in some ways too. English language and French were my strongest subjects and were subjects I enjoyed a lot. English language definitely helped to inspire me to want to write and even though reading was never a passion of mine back in 2015, I’m a lot more driven to read now because I want to read about other people’s perspectives and try to understand other people more. Ultimately I want to learn and try to use the lessons as fuel towards passion.

It’s worth saying… I am a passion merchant. I am very passionate about some things. Maybe I fall short of knowing just how to communicate these passions in the best way… But I do try. I’m the one who thinks contrary to being told that I’m an effective communicator. But when I communicate and talk about views that I’m passionate about I often think I’d rather not be heard just to save things from going too far.

I’d love very much to use a creative thought process to find solutions to things or to think about new ideas for things to be able to help other people like myself. And what a brilliant place to start. A new decade. A new era of time. Who knows what 2020 will be the year of? It was jokingly said 2019 would be the year of Grime Music. Well… It did do quite well and the main poster boy behind that was certainly quite successful.

All I strive to do, is to create a positive vision for people and to also keep enjoying and embracing my quirky natures and sometimes not knowing when to stop talking. If I read this blog out to you right now… Let’s face it… You’d be in a deep sleep by now. Well that would be the consolation prize for not having you fall asleep after the first word. Small victories. Got to take them every now and then.

Hopefully the 2020s can be an era where the wheel is reinvented, where people who are neuro-diverse can be given more opportunities to thrive rather than just survive. Survival is essential of course… But no fun unless you’re Bear Grylls. Thriving is what we want. Or at least a 60-40 split of thriving to surviving. I want people to be happy and to have the right support and be able to determine their own reasonable adjustments… Not to have them told to you because only a neuro-diverse person knows what the right support is for them. We need the right adjustments. The wrong word beginning with R is used to describe the adjustments people like myself are entitled to. With the right adjustments, we can all get on and we can all have healthy relationships and a mutual understanding. Let’s bridge this gap. Whatever it takes… Together.

Let’s create a positive vision. Involving plenty of the above. That is all.

How Artificial Intelligence could help people with neurological conditions

As technology develops further and further, the whole idea of Robots becoming a species that could co-exist with humans is seemingly not far from the horizon.

Think what you will, but I personally think Artificial Intelligence is an interesting concept and something I know has some great qualities.

One particular quality of Artificial Intelligence, is that it can help individuals with autism to understand their own and other people’s emotions as well as understanding different social contexts.

For me personally, this would be great. I have a little bit of an overlap with Dyspraxia and autism where some others may overlap more with other conditions such as Dyslexia and ADHD.

One of my biggest areas of development that will always exist on that side of things is the social side. I see things as being on a spectrum. Because you can then start to kind of evaluate things in a deeper meaning rather than just jumping on one idea.

I often struggle at talking with more than one other person involved in a conversation. I also struggle with maintaining eye contact. I have also tried a few exercises on eye contact, without success. At this point it should be accepted that sometimes there is no “cure” or “way of reversing” this kind of thing. It exists, and I and all those individuals that struggle with it (and perhaps get ridiculed for it?) can’t help it. It’s something other people will have to adjust to.

So, with regards to the social spectrum, I have mentioned that I find it a challenge to have a conversation with more than one person at a time. I put all that focus on talking with one person otherwise things get awkward very quickly. This is where I feel Artificial Intelligence could potentially help me. I feel like with the expressions it can make and the fact it can talk, could help me to understand ways I could try to adapt to these surroundings, so that the anxiety starts to decrease.

There are many other ways I feel Artificial Intelligence could help me, if and when interacting with people may not provide the result I am looking for. For example, putting together a sentence or a response to something somebody has said to me so that I don’t have a hard time trying to phrase something that could take me all day. I’d much rather be allowed to exist with my natural “washing machine spin cycle brain” and all of its many components and allow myself to feel a sense of comfort rather than procrastinating all day about how to conform to a variety of social environments.

Clearly, becoming co-dependent on Artificial Intelligence to do everything for us is not something I’d be buying into. But here’s the thing- Google Home and Amazon Echo are basically just that. Artificial Intelligence. That some of us may have in our homes at this very moment in time. But it’s not something I rely on for answers 24/7 because hey… Where’s the authenticity in that? And I’m not one to blow my own trumpet but I know for a fact I know some things that Alexa and Google don’t. AI would also be a great help in giving people ideas of how to solve different problems too. Whether it’s something you could do yourself or find an expert who you could learn from.

It’s undeniable, there are many questions still to be asked of technology and Artificial Intelligence, but I feel that for individuals like myself who have some things they find more challenging, it can only be a good thing that can help us be more in tune with the world around us.

So I ask you this, is the idea of humans and Artificial Intelligence co-existing such a bad thing? Or is it something to embrace, to think of the good that it could do in helping certain groups in society feel like they’re able to fit in?