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.
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”.
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.”
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.
Yours and Hungry,
the dyspraxic chef