Learning about Dyspraxia: Dyspraxia diagnosis

the dyspraxia test | the dyspraxic chef

I have read a lot recently about people’s individual experiences of growing up with dyspraxia and some about people finding out about their dyspraxia diagnosis later in life.

Mainly about their dyspraxia diagnoses and how it changed their lives. People from all walks of life have dyspraxia and the challenges they have faced are unique for the most part. I am currently reading the book Dyspraxic adults surviving in a Non-dyspraxic world. I would highly recommend it. Through reading it though, I have reflected on my experience, more so than usual, and I thought I would write about it.

Dyspraxia in childhood

As a child, I displayed many physical attributes of a child with dyspraxia. I in-toed dramatically, before that I didn’t crawl, I was poorly co-ordinated, with very little spatial awareness. My point is, if you had a checklist for dyspraxia symptoms, I’d have ticked the majority of the boxes. So it was pretty clear there was something ‘different’ about me.

Luckily, my parents were proactive about the situation and began the fight to have, whatever it was I had, acknowledged when I was young. That is another story; this one is about the ‘medical’ process I underwent to be diagnosed with dyspraxia.

Diagnosed with Dyspraxia

I was diagnosed after a lengthy process of scans, injections, samples, operations, more scans and even more scans. I was prodded and poked until I bled or cried. I will detail that at a later date.

The actual moment I was told by a medical professional I was dyspraxic was when I was maybe 8 or 9, I could have been older but not much.

So that would have been the mid 90’s, memba the 90’s? Memba The Spice girls, Oasis, Chicken drummers and a nation still reeling from a Thatcherite mentality? I memba. Member Berries GIF - Memberberries Member GIFs

I sat on the edge of a well-made bed in what I remember as an empty room, on a hospital ward. What I think was a young medic, maybe a doctor (at the time they seemed old, as all people over school age do to a child), they crouched before me to tell me that I have dyspraxia.

For someone of that age to be told such thing didn’t really make sense. I can’t be sure but I think I asked what that meant and how it would affect me. I remember the answer quite clearly.

“You’ll never ride a bike, tie your shoes, run, and jump, kick a ball or play like the other kids”.The Simpsons season 3 talking episode 17 3x17

Maybe not word for word, but that was the general sentiment of it. At that point I had endured quite a bit of physical pain to find out why I was ‘different’, but those words struck a worse blow than any of the tests I had undergone.

I wanted to cry, but I didn’t.

To reach that point, I had gone through a lengthy procedure. After a quick call to my Mum, it was confirmed that I was first taken to the Doctor at the age of 4 because I in-toed so badly my knees made contact. From then I was passed from pillar to post. From the physio to having moulds made for my feet, using some misguided notion that they help in any way what so ever. I had various brain scans, a muscle biopsy but what topped the lot was the test for nerve damage.

Now, people with dyspraxia may be under sensitive to touch. This could lead to people with dyspraxia to have a high pain threshold. The test for nerve damage is what they use to test for MS. I was nine when that happened. I recall the doctor saying “it’s ok to cry, must adults cannot cope with this.”

Dyspraxia Now

Living as an adult with dyspraxia, I don’t think I would change any of the things I experienced through my diagnosis. I can only speculate what my life would be like if I hadn’t been diagnosed as a child with dyspraxia.

For those who have gone and continue to go undiagnosed, I have tremendous empathy. Because life is no stroll in the park, the more information we have about ourselves, the better equipped we are for the world.

And for those that were diagnosed from a young age or at some point through formative education, I know only too well what struggles you may have encountered.

But ultimately, each dyspraxic’s experience is different and that should be celebrated. happy excited celebration minions cheer

Yours and Hungry,

the dyspraxic chef

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Fine motor skills: Peeling Potatoes | the dyspraxic chef

Peeling Potatoes | the dyspraxic chef

The dyspraxic chef was not dictating the menu this evening nor was I doing the cooking. Control of the kitchen was handed back to afrogontherun.com. As I haven’t posted for a week or two I thought I’d take the opportunity to practice my fine motor skills, something that an adult with dyspraxia might have to work harder at than a non-dyspraxic.

Usually, when confronted with the task of peeling veg, a dyspraxic adult might well end up with chunks of veg and slices to their fingers. I am not quite the butcher I once was when it comes to vegetables but many a spud (potato) has fallen victim to my heavy hand.

To peel or not to peel

To peel or not to peel

Do dyspraxic adults struggle with fine motor skills?

Due to poor fine motor skills, adults living with dyspraxia can struggle with basic tasks that non-dyspraxics find easy or take for granted. It has been reported that it takes a dyspraxic’s brain 10 times more energy to function than a non- dyspraxics’ brain. To put that in perspective, something like making a meal for one, never mind a family, can be an energy sapping experience.

Then consider each task required to make the meal. Some would suggest to keep it simple, but I am yet to come across an adult living with dyspraxia that keeps things simple.

I peeled the potatoes and then sliced them but it took much longer me to do it then it would have the frog. Half way through slicing I was glad I was not making the dish and that I could sit down.

Dexterity: adults and children with dyspraxia can have poor dexterity, making task such has using a knife difficult.
Grip: adults and children living with dyspraxia can have issues holding things such as a knife and fork. This can have implications with peeling and chopping as a dyspraxic’s grip is often either too strong or too loose.
Clumsy:  due to poor spatial awareness people with dyspraxia are often clumsy, this can implications when using sharp objects and extra caution should be taken when using knives in particular.
Concentration/hand-eye coordination: losing concentration is something I could attribute to ADHD rather than dyspraxia but poor hand-eye coordination is common amongst adults living with dyspraxia.

How does the dyspraxic chef do it? 3 top tips:

  1. Be gentle: I often butcher food because of poor grip or through are being ‘heavy handed’, if you think you are being too soft, you are probably doing it just right.
  2. Be patient: I often get frustrated and want to give up mid-way through a task. This is not helpful if I am the one doing the cooking. So take a few deep breaths and take your time.
  3. Be happy: I find cooking and food prep relaxing and that can only be a good thing.

Things can only getter better:

Without a doubt, unequivocally, all of the above dyspraxia symptoms can be improved upon. With practice and the correct environment, not to mention, plenty of encouragement from those around, things can only get better. Cooking with dyspraxia can be fun. But like with all things in life, to do something fun, we have to do something tedious  first. Peeling and preparing vegetables can be a tricky task for adults living with dyspraxia. My personal enemy is the carrot. I can help but attack those sticks of orange as if they intend to harm me.

Yours and Hungry,

the dyspraxic chef

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