Dyspraxia Awareness Week 2020

Dyspraxia Awareness Week is here again and this year the theme is all about wellbeing. This is something that I am constantly aware of, regardless of a global pandemic. However, 2020 has been a crazy year with all that’s been going on, and there have been certain things that I have needed in order to feel in control, even more so than usual.

Covid-19 has thrown a huge curveball into the world for me. I have become less confident about going out to places and about being able to carry on in the same manner as before. This has made things very monotonous. I have spent a lot of the time staring at the same four walls. This wouldn’t have been the case if I were able to see the small group of friends that was developing to give all of us involved a sense of connection. Every month, we would have something planned, whether it be a meal out, an activity such as tobogganing or crazy golf, or just a night in playing board games and having a takeaway.

Of course, the whole message of ‘social distancing’ doesn’t help matters either. This term was chosen and immediately alienated people like me who absolutely need social connection. Instead, the message could’ve been to be physically distant with our peers while maintaining social connectivity.

Anyway, don’t I mean Dyslexia, not Dyspraxia? Well, no, I do mean Dyspraxia. Dyspraxia just doesn’t get the same amount of airtime. While Dyspraxia and Dyslexia can overlap, Dyspraxia still continues to be seen as the “unfashionable cousin” compared to Dyslexia. Why is it that Dyspraxia gets less attention than the other disabilities under the ‘umbrella’ of neuro-diversity (Autism, ADHD, and Dyslexia).

Something I found quite surprising recently, is that Dyspraxia and Dyslexia share the SAME awareness week. The two are already confused enough amongst the mainstream world, and this doesn’t help. Dyspraxia has some links to Dyslexia, just like it does with Autism and ADHD. But the awareness needs to be focused on Dyspraxia so that people with the condition will be better understood amongst the general public. Over the years, Autism in particular has had a higher profile as more research has been undertaken and awareness has been raised.

Yes, these conditions are a disability (NOT AN ILLNESS), but there are an incredible array of ABILITIES that a person with Dyspraxia can have. Not only do many people with Dyspraxia have creativity in abundance, but they can also be very logical thinkers and show an attention to detail that not everyone can. Does this not demonstrate how much positivity people with Dyspraxia can offer to society?

Dyspraxia deserves its own awareness week. Awareness of the condition is slowly developing through exposure in the media. For example, a character in Doctor Who is Dyspraxic. The focus of his Dyspraxia mainly appeared to be the physical coordination difficulties. It needs to be remembered that it presents in many more ways than this.

People often have misconceptions when it comes to putting people under a certain ‘stereotype’. People with Autism are all supposedly ‘good at maths’. ‘Oh you must be amazing at such and such an activity’. This isn’t necessarily true and can do more harm than good.

There are also further issues which impact on how my Dyspraxia presents itself due to the Covid-19 guidance. The face coverings don’t cause an issue for most people, however people with Dyspraxia can easily find themselves in a sensory overload from having something covering their face and in sight constantly. I also wear glasses which results in them getting steamed up after breathing into a mask. This eventually becomes overwhelming for me, so to try to reduce this impact, I have to alter the way I breathe, which can feel like I’m having a panic attack.

Having a routine to stick by is something that is important to me as I can become more in tune with day-to-day life. At the moment, my routine routine revolves around exercise. Doing exercises that are challenging physically is good for everyone, but especially for me with Dyspraxia, I am constantly improving my coordination by completing different exercises.

Exercise releases endorphins, something that we are missing out on when we have limited social interaction. So exercise has been the drive to the majority of my days and it has enhanced my wellbeing massively. An inspirational line I love fro Joe Wicks (The Body Coach TV on YouTube) is ‘healthy body, healthy mind.’ This makes me feel accomplished because I’m up and ready for the day both mentally and physically. I really believe doing a workout before lunch or first thing in the morning helps me feel like I’ve pushed myself in both mental and physical capacities and there will be some kind of reward as a result of this. A routine is something I have always thrived on, having a timetable and mental organisation helps me to prepare and provides me with control in life. Having a set routine is very helpful and allows me to fit in things that make me feel content in life. Whether that’s exercise, meditation, or reading a book. Meeting with my ENRYCH PA on a weekly basis has been a really positive focus. My confidence has grown as a result of the interaction with my PA.

I hope that via awareness week, we can take bigger strides and a more well-rounded approach to understanding and learning about Dyspraxia. Increasing awareness of this condition is crucial as this will only help people with Dyspraxia to feel more welcome amongst the general public. I want to contribute to building a platform where people feel they can integrate with everyone and learn about everyone, to break this idea if ‘normal’.

At the end of the day, we can all learn from each other and learn from the different and authentic ways in which we choose to do things. Some of these scenarios may leave a positive impact and some may not, but this is how we learn what works for us and develop a wider knowledge of how to better ourselves and our lives socially and in other aspects too. Find out what resonates with you in the best way, this isn’t always from a teacher or ‘reliable source’, it can be from anyone, anywhere, with any condition.

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