Monday, 29 August 2011

Dyspraxia, Movement & Navigation

    I write about my dyspraxia on a semi-regular basis and I've had some really positive feedback, both from people with the condition as well as friends and family of those who have it, so I just wanted to say "thank you" before I started - I really do appreciate all the responses I get.

    Onwards and upwards! Today I wanted to write about the physical side of dyspraxia, which is a huge part of the condition. Every sufferer is different, of course; I know of some dyspraxics who have learnt how to catch a ball, for example, or read a map or have decent hand-eye coordination, none of which I have. It's a good job I don't intend to be a tennis player or Bear Grylls, in that case - I've always preferred a more sedentary life!

    I have zero navigational skills, as evidenced recently by a recent spate of visits I've made to different towns for work purposes and got lost far too easily, but there are things that help me with that - phone-bases sat nav and good friends and colleagues who are very patient with me, even if they don't always understand my pathological inability to get from A to B without paying a brief visit to Z (which, 9 times out of 10, is perfectly pleasant as a sight-seeing diversion).

    In years gone by, I would have "solved" this problem by not going anywhere; now, I do it anyway. There's a small amount of panic involved, because I'm fighting against my natural instincts (which are to hide under the duvet instead), but you won't get very far if you don't fight those instincts from time to time.

    I'm written before about my lack of physical coordination in certain situations; ball-catching and anything where judging distance is required ... well, in those circumstances, I'll usually volunteer to make the half-time drinks instead, as long as someone else can carry the tray. My feet often have their own ideas about where they want to to go, and not always in conjunction with each other or my brain, and so it can occasionally appear as if I am the worse for wear ... honestly, mum, I don't know what that's like (and especially since I don't drink anymore). It's actually quite liberating, because I've realised that I don't care what other people think - and I suspect people sometimes think I am the worse the wear. If they do - sod 'em. It's the way I am. I'm used to it!

    For me, the other main physical effect of dyspraxia is joint pain; I've always had sporadic aches and pains in my joints (lower back, knees, hips and thighs especially) and I don't really think much about it now, although it's one of the more ... annoying features of my condition. The aches can come and go, but they do often come at times when I really, really wish they'd just bugger off; when I'm planning to go for a walk, for example, or half-way through a working day. It's strange; I can sometimes walk a few miles and feel absolutely fine (I love walking, it helps me plan my story ideas in my head), but I'll walk down the stairs to my front door the next day and my knees will scream at me.

    Part of this is undoubtedly genetic - I can think of a few examples in my own family where they've got bad knees or back, etc - but I know my dyspraxia plays a part, and I have to accept that. Although I'm aware that I have limitations (doesn't everyone?), I won't allow my dyspraxia dictate to me what I can't do all the time; if I want to do something, like walking five miles on a Saturday afternoon, then I'll damn well do it - and train my body to cope with it.

    Since I've been writing this blog, I've said how I want to document my journey of understanding my dyspraxia, and this is certainly part of it. I get annoyed if I'm ever treated differently because of it - and thankfully, it barely happens - but I'm often hardest on myself. I want to prove - to myself, to others, who knows - that I can do things. I don't care about my aches and pains (it doesn't stop me walking), I don't care about my inability to catch a ball (seriously, I sit behind a desk all day, when am I ever going to need to catch a ball?) and I'm learning how to navigate new areas with confidence (not being afraid to ask for directions is something blokes have issues with, but I'm overcoming it).

    If you have dyspraxia, and reading this, then you'll have undoubtedly have experienced a combination of these issues yourself. I won't lie to you: they won't go away, but I'll let you into a secret. Mental attitude is as much a part of it as the condition itself; if you sit down and think, "Oh, well, I'm dyspraxic, I simply can't do that", then you won't. You'll never know how far you can push yourself. I thought that way for a long time, but then I started pushing myself - I started feeling the fear and doing it anyway - and I discovered a lot more about myself by doing that.

    There's a quote I rather like, and this blog post is partly an excuse to share it with you; "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt said that - and I'll leave you now with that thought!

1 comment:

  1. my gosh reading your post there has just helped me big time! i have sufferd from pains in my knees, hips and all joints tbh for years to the point ive just been tested for arthitis what came back as negative nothing wrong with me at all and was begining to think it is all in my head but its not its my dyspraxia thank you so much!