How I learned to live with Dyspraxia: a preview of a book I’m working on

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After months of hard work, along with the mentorship and support of Colborne Communications, I am only 6 chapters away from a finished draft of my book. Once this is done, I’ll be looking for a home for this book. I have a few ideas in mind for what literary agents to query, but I’m waiting until the book is done to reach out to them. Although I’m not done writing the book, I thought now was a good time to leak the first few pages. Everything you see below is the introduction to my book. If you want to see more of it, stay tuned for the release date.

Introduction

Dyspraxia is a disability that gives me an underdeveloped sense of space and time. It also impacts fine motor skills.

It has a low level of awareness and is often misdiagnosed, despite the fact that it affects 10% of the population[1]. So, you might live or work with someone with Dyspraxia and not even know it. In fact, the lack of awareness has created a lifetime of problems with being accepted by everyone I meet.

In 1995, the year Dyspraxia was only just starting to be taken seriously in the medical community, my Dyspraxia symptoms started to show up in every aspect of my life. Mike Harris was the premier of Ontario at the time, and his cuts to healthcare shut down hospitals and lowered the healthcare budget[2]. I saw the effects of the cuts in the eyes of every medical professional because they looked visibly stressed, overworked, and overtired. So, I’m still unable to point fingers and impose blame.

This made my first year of school a challenge. I was unable to do everything that children are expected do by the time they’re in school riding a bike and catching a ball, to reading, writing, and basic math. More often than not, I got made fun of. According to a family legend, I couldn’t even understand why an orange (as in the fruit) was orange. I asked my father what triggered the medical tests pre-diagnosis, and he remembers an incident when I lost control of my balance and fell down the stairs.

So, my parents did what most logical parents would do and took me to the doctor. Then, I got sent to several specialists at a major Canadian children’s hospital[3]; I had blood tests, MRIs, appointments with physiotherapists and occupational therapists, speech pathology testing, and psychological assessments. All these things are considered a fairly “normal” part of the Dyspraxia diagnosis process. [4] I defiantly remember hating every minute of it. Being outside in the sunshine seemed much more appealing than sitting still in a sterile hospital waiting room. Several appointments later, my parents received a phone call from the family doctor, announcing my diagnosis: Dyspraxia.

I don’t remember how I found out about it, but it was probably handled a bit like how my British/ Canadian father often tells me about a death in the family. He waits until I’m comfortably seated; and then his Oxfordshire accent suddenly includes an aura of soft gentleness as he does his best to explain what this means for me and everyone else we care about.

Although Dyspraxia is a genetic condition that you develop when you’re still in the womb, it’s a lot more common for people to be diagnosed in their adulthood. Since I was diagnosed at such a young age, I’m a rare exception to that statistic.

When people don’t face the challenges of disabilities until later on in their life, the realities of it are a lot harder. I don’t envy the people don’t get diagnosed until they’re an adult.

I used to daydream about how great it would have been to have a childhood where I didn’t know that I had a disability, and not confront the realities of Dyspraxia until later on in my life.

Once I struggled with other health issues, I no longer felt that way. Because if you don’t have good coping mechanisms, your chances of thriving at school, in the workplace, and in your social and love life are a lot lower. Good coping mechanisms take trial and error, along with practice. Just like any other skill, mastering your coping mechanisms doesn’t happen overnight. But there’s an entire chapter for that subject. If that’s something you need help with, stay tuned.

[1] Since a high percentage of people with Dyspraxia are still undiagnosed, this is an estimated number from the Dyspraxia Foundation.

[2] “History of Canadian Medicare- 1989–2007- Mike Harris”. Canadian Museum of History. <https://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/hist/medicare/medic-8k03e.html>

[3] Sick Kids Hospital (Toronto, Canada)

[4] Getting a diagnosis of Dyspraxia for under 18s. Dyspraxia Foundation. <https://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/questions/diagnosis-dyspraxia-obtained/>

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Content writer & editor with tech & neurodiversity lived experience perspective. A person with dyspraxia writing a book about my disability.

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