Dyspraxia: Living as an Expat and Learning the Lingo!

Amsterdam houses - the dyspraxic chef - Living as an expat

It has been a while… and 2017 is nearing it’s inevitable demise. It has been a strange year living as an expat for the dyspraxic chef; and I have not been in the kitchen as much as I would have like to have been. I will return to the kitchen soon and hopefully the end product will be tastier than ever before.

For now…Living as an Expat

The topic I wanted to share was living as an expat and specifically learning a new language.  The lingo I am trying to get my tongue twisted around is Dutch. I have lived in the Netherlands a little over two years and baring the odd session on Duolingo or Lingohut, I have not really got on anywhere in terms of language building.

Living with dyspraxia and living as an expat throws up all manner of challenges. Coming from England most of the challenges you face living as an expat are made easy in the Netherlands. 99% of people speak English and are rightly proud of the fact they can. This is both positive and negative, it is easy to get by but it is almost too easy.

The best way to learn dutch Learning With DYSPRAXIA - the dyspraxic chef blog post Living as an Expat

A year ago or so, I applied for the free dutch classes that were available and waited for the course to start. Before the classes were to start, there was of course a process to go through. As is the case with most things when living as an expat.

Step 1.

Meeting to collect documents and take names: At this stage I mentioned Dyspraxia.

Step 2.

Learning test to decide which group I would go in (fast or slow).

I asked to go in the slow group but the test I completed misrepresented my learning ability and I was put in the faster learning group. This may sound stupid but this was the first test I wish I had done worse at; a short test is not representative of what would be a 3 hour lesson, twice a week.

I explained the dyspraxia situation and that a smaller group where the pace would be slower would be more suitable; but due to being University educated and a few good guesses on a test; it was the top group for me.

I was, however, determined to have a go so I took it in my stride and awaited the next step.

Step 3.

Sign a contract.

Step 4.

Start the classes: I tried my best to explain dyspraxia and the issues I, like many other dyspraxic’s, face when it comes to learning something new; even providing documentation provided by the Dyspraxia Foundation. There are two teachers and both were understanding about it, in fact, one of them spoke of how his brother had been considered as having  processing/sensory issues that sounded a lot like dyspraxia.

Back to school: Dutch Lessons Study- the dyspraxic chef blog post Living as an Expat

I try to attend each class with a positive outlook but that dissipates fairly quickly. The first few classes I managed to sort of keep up, but by the second half of the class, if not the second half of the first half; I was done.

Despite this, the classes are full of people who have varying levels of ability and they take place   twice a week for three hours a time. A part of me screams ‘what where you thinking?’ but a much larger part screams ‘it’s no reason not to give it a go’.

The matter has and is causing anxiety. I have missed a few classes due to working away which admittedly did not help the situation. Where I stand now is trying to catch up in my own time, which has its own challenges, and attempting to communicate with the school about the best way I can learn dutch moving forward.

The current set up is not productive at all. I fail to see how it can be for anybody else in the room either. The classrooms are outdated with bright lights and we spend most of the time nose deep into a text book. It is an understatement to say I have an issue with learning things, but there is a right and wrong way of learning. The teacher lamented that in his other classes, the students have access to computers. We are almost in the third decade of the 21st century and there is still so much we can learn about learning. I know that text books and bad lighting is not the way to go; I’d have just as much chance learning from slate.

More to say

I could go on about various aspects of the lessons. The stress, anxiety and general morale crushing process that it has at times felt like, but if you have any experience of learning with dyspraxia or of being around those that have, you will be able to fill in the blanks.

It is not all bad though, I occasionally understand what is happening in the class, and that makes all the difference, for that moment,.It makes me want to carry on. Like when golfers say they can spend hours swinging to hit barely anything but then they hit one sweet shot, that makes chase that thrill time again.

Don’t give in

I do not want to put fellow dyspraxic’s off learning a language. There are other neurological conditions at play for one; which is often the case with dyspraxia. I will not be giving up learning the lingo any time soon. If anything it has made me more determined to learn and to continue to ask questions about dyspraxia.


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A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia O is for Optimistic

A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia O is for Optimistic A - Z of Living with Dyspraxia O is for Optimistic

O is for Optimistic

When living with dyspraxia it is easy to become dejected and isolated and to concentrate on the negative aspects of living with dyspraxia. People with dyspraxia can also find it easy (not always) to highlight the positive.

That is why the A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia O is for Optimistic. That’s because despite any challenges the majority of people with dyspraxia or driven and determined and in turn are optimistic.

When living with dyspraxia it is not uncommon to suffer from depression and anxiety, two conditions that in a particular environment, can be crippling, but when living with dyspraxia every cloud has a silver lining.

A word of warning, however, when living with dyspraxia a dyspraxic person should be careful not to get too high when optimistic because a sudden tumble can lead to a sensation of rejection or isolation.

Concentrate on the positive aspects of your life and the things you’re good at and enjoy doing. Bare in mind your weakness but always remind your strengths and play to them.

If you are doing what you’re good at it is near impossible not to be optimistic about life.

O is for Optimistic because despite the negativity people living with dyspraxia might feel they can also be eternally optimistic.


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A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia L is for

AZ of Living with Dyspraxia L is for

A - Z of Living with dyspraxia L is for

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A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia K is for


A - Z of Living with Dyspraxia K is forA – Z of Living with Dyspraxia K is for

The A – Z is kicking on with a little help with some dyspraxic friends and I kindly present the letter K in the A- Z of living with dyspraxia.

K is for Knowledge

Is was stuck on this for a while so I popped a question into one of the support groups and got plenty of suggestions. Knowledge was one that kept rearing its head so that’s what I decided,

What it got a kick (boot)

Suggestions were a plenty, kinesthesis (ability to sense the use of limbs without the use of the five sense or a lack of ability in the case of dyspraxia.)

Knots – the tying and untying of. Due to fine motor skills issues, many dyspraxics might struggle to untie a tight knot or even a lose one and the same can be said for tying knots, such as shoe laces or ties.

Kicking a ball – something I hope I cover with football

Keeping a routine – something that can help people living with dyspraxia cope with dyspraxia and counter some dyspraxia related issues.

Knocking things over – I am sure ever dyspraxia has a broken cup or two in the cupboard.

Kind and caring – dyspraxics are often known to be sensitive.

Knowing you did your best – no matter how hard a dyspraxic might try, when living with dyspraxia there is always a sense of underachievement.

Keeping positive – see A is for attitude

Kitchen etiquette and Knives – As this is the dyspraxic chef, I think I will make a separate post for these.

I feel the biggest challenge people living with dyspraxia face is people’s lack of knowledge.

I am confident however that awareness is growing and a lot of that growth is down to dyspraxic’s themselves, this blog post is the perfect example, I was stuck and an army of dyspraxic’s bombarded me with suggestions.

Thank you

So many thanks for the suggestions, all your help and support is greatly appreciated.

K is for Knowledge because knowledge about dyspraxia is still thin on the ground. The more awareness of dyspraxia that friends, peers, colleagues, teachers, support workers have about dyspraxia; the easy life will be for dyspraxic’s and those around them

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A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia E is for

A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia E is for Emotions    


Increasingly, there is an encouragement for people to discuss their emotions and mental health, in particular men, but there is still a large stigma attached to emotional well-being.

It is common for dyspraxia to overlap with various mental health and neurological conditions. Which only makes things more complex when trying to find that healthy life balance.

Although you don’t have to be living with dyspraxia to be anxious or emotionally unwell, non – dyspraxic’s may have better inbuilt coping mechanisms with which to regain health.


Failure to deal with stress and anxiety can cause a sense of being overwhelmed. A feel which will be familiar for dyspraxic’s the world over due to sensory overload. Not being able to fully process an event when it is taking place leads to later process and quite often in my case, over thinking or over reflecting an event.

Dyspraxic tendencies

I feel that, when I have faced any periods of emotional or mental unwellness, my dyspraxic tendencies increase or at least appear at their worst.

I think, and it is just my opinion backed by no medical evidence but just through my own living, that sensory overload and an inability to process information, later becomes a burden on the mind. Pair that with over inward reflection and it leads to problems with the mental state and well-being.

E is for emotions because it is not about being happy all the time, it is about finding a balance.

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A – Z of Living with Dyspraxia A is for

The month of April presents an opportunity. One to post a blog every day excluding the weekend with the exception of one Sunday in the month. I fool you not. I came across a blog which challenged bloggers to post every day for a month. The article did offer some useful advice for posting 26 times. It is advice I duly noted. Although I might have to get creative with some letters of the alphabet.

 A – Z of living with dyspraxia        the dyspraxic chef - A - Z of living with dyspraxia A is for

A – is for Attitude

Living with dyspraxia offers all sorts of day to day challenges making having the right attitude essential. I like to take my daily dyspraxia with a healthy dose of humour. If you don’t laugh at all the tribulations then frustration will take over.

It is important to remember as a person living with dyspraxia that just because you may find something difficult, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it, you just need to find your way of doing it. Also. take into account that every single person will be absolutely rubbish at lots of things and good a few.

So, keep your best foot forward, even if the one behind is liable to trip you up.

I don’t always have the right attitude but like with everything in life, when living with dyspraxia you need to find a balance.

A is for attitude because without a positive one, living with dyspraxia can be harder than it has to be.

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