Welcome Back to Blogging: What’s been going on?

So some of you may have noticed it’s been over 5 months since I last blogged. I haven’t forgotten – I’ve just fallen of the metaphorical grid since January. There’s a few reason’s for this. The main one being I have myself a new job! Well ish… I started in January.

I now work part time at a High School as a Teaching Assistant along side my other job (which I’ve now reduced hours down to 2 days per week). It’s taken me awhile to settle in to this new routine and the challenges that high school aged young adults bring with them. I love the job and feel that I’m now settled and in a place where i can Blog happily again!

I’ve also been ridiculously busy with various volunteer projects. These will most certainly be the subject of some of my blogs in the very near future.

The main two projects have been:

  • The Radio station (TCR fm, Tamworth) – I’ve presented on this station for over 7 years (and i do actually have a draft blog post all about this crazy place that I love so dearly that I must have started before the hiatus.) I have since been given more responsibility by being made a Director so this has taken up a considerable amount of my weekends.
  • Dig-It Tamworth – this is a fantastic Dyslexia support group. Julie and the team are amazing and do so much for Dyslexic’s of every age in the area. I was involved in a joint project with Ultra-Vibrancy Puppets where a group of youngsters with Dyslexia created a UV puppet show! I was involved every saturday Afternoon for a fair few weeks and it all ended with a brilliant showing of all their hard work to family, friends and even the Mayor of Tamworth. This will be another blog post for another day.

 

So that’s where I’ve been. I’ve missed blogging so expect a few more posts from me now I’m back in the right head space to do so.

Liam (My boyfriend) has also recently brought a Go-Pro camera so maybe even expect a few vlogs in the near future!

Dyspraxia & Me: Live Music Gig’s

So this is another blog I’ve been meaning to write for a little while all about  how to survive a music gig in a small, intimate venue as a dyspraxic.

I love music and there’s nothing more exciting than going to see your favorite band live. The loud music, the lights, the other people all having fun and bumping into you, singing loud and of course the jumping… yeah not all the most fun for a Dyspraxic person, especially at a standing gig, but I actually love spending an evening with live music.

The first concert I ever went to was Hear’Say when I was about 11 – Don’t judge, my parents got the tickets after the Popstar’s The Rivals TV show as we watched that together. I was then taken to see S Club 7 as a 13th Birthday present – as a 13 year old there was nothing more exciting than getting a wave from Jo O’Mera!

During my teens music became a big part of my life having started to volunteer at a radio station. At 16 i went to my first ‘proper’ gig to see All American Rejects with my cousin – and ended up in a mosh pit; i do NOT recomend this at all and moved at the earliest possible opportunity. Then I found the local music scene going to watch friend’s bands, going to Battle of the Bands events and even an OxJam event.

Last year I also went to go and see Foxes in Birmingham along with my Boyfriend and we went along to see her again in October, this time as part of a week away in Brighton. That inspired me to make this ‘how to survive a gig’ blog! IMG_0085.JPG

The gig was at the beautiful Brighton Pavillions – a very intimate venue that can hold around 300 people, snug is certainly the word for it. The whole experience was probably the best gig I’ve ever had – the warm up was non other than Critic’s Choice Award nominee Izzy Bizzu who was fantastic and Foxes yet again was amazing. The atmosphere was buzzing too. Thankfully I’m well versed in these sorts of situations but theres still a few things that can trip up even the experienced Dyspraxic in this situation.

 

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some of the issues that a Dyspraxic here can face are:

  • Lots of people being close by a
  • nd fear of bumping into people or being bumped into
  • Having to hold drinks and fear of spilling them
  • Being stood up for a long period of time – often these gigs involve a long wait outside and last a few hours. My legs can hurt if I’m stood still for too long as my muscles aren’t that strong. I also don’t like the jumping for fear of falling over.
  • Sensory over load – often they’re loud and have lots of flashing lights

There’s probably more but these for me are the three biggest for me. However there’s a way around all of them:

  • Don’t worry about bumping into people – you always will, kinda inevitable just go with the flow. Although for this gig I ended up stood in what was a ‘natural walk way’ so was constantly being bumped into which was a tiny bit annoying. Always stand at the back – less people and believe me the best views as you don’t have people’s heads in the way!
  • Try and get a drink with a lid on it, although not always possible. You also won’t be the only one to spill it if you did.
  • I don’t like using a chair at a gig as it reduces view so I find that standing by the sound/light booth is good. There’s normally a barrier that you can lean against if you want to, normally they don’t mind either!
  • Ear Plugs are a god send – you might think the opposite but they can just reduce the sound level and if you get a good pair they don’t affect the sound quality. I have a pair of DJ ear plugs that are really great, and not overly expensive. With the lights just look away if you need to.

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Hannah’s Top Tips for Gigs

  • Never underestimate the sound booth – i mean seriously go stand by it! I’m also a sound geek so it’s something else to look at. If you’re nice you may also get a show song list – I nearly did but bottled it asking.
  • Get the Merch first if you want some – it always sells out. Also go up a size in t-shirts as they generally are a little clingy which I hate.
  • Arrive early – the ques are always shorter which means your stood around outside less and can get in and find yourself a nice quiet spot. The lines at the bar are always shorter too
  • Always grab a bottle of water – you will want it when it gets warm inside… and it has a lid!
  • Have fun and make a few new friends – even if only for an hour or so!

 

 

 

 

 

Dyspraxia & Me: An update, Adapting to Change & Dyslexia Awareness Week Radio Show Information

So regular followers will have noticed a lack of blog posts last month, it’s not because I don’t want to… it’s because I haven’t had time and had a lot of changes within my work life to try and adapt to in a brief space of time. I now feel like I’m in the right head space to get back to this and to give an update of the changes, and how I’ve coped with them.

In a change from the last academic years, I’m now working with Birmingham city center – still with the same college but a different campus.  This certainly has some pro’s and con’s – although I’ve only just started to see some of those pro’s in the last couple of days. The change has caused a few specific anxieties – but I’ve now started to overcome some of these in certain strategies.

Traveling in by train – I decided at the start of the academic year that It would be easier to travel in by train. It is, but this means overcoming something I hate – using public transport. I’m not a massive fan of these things, too many people is the main reason. I travel from a little train station just out from where I live to Birmingham New Street Station (More on that in a minuite…). I’ve already written a blog on why I don’t like traveling (See Getting Lost and Asking for Help) so I won’t go too much into this. To begin with the trains were confusing, but then i found the National Rail App on my iphone which is fantastic. It lets me see trains in real time, if they are running late and what Platform they are on – especially useful at New Street – i now can generally predict it will be one of three platforms but checking before i leave work helps me know where I’m going and what time i need to be there for.

I also end up having to stand up a lot on the trains – i’m not a fan of this as the movement of the train can make it difficult to not fall over. If i absolutly have to stand up I’ll make sure im by a chair with a round ‘thing’ on it to grab, or a table, or by the door to hold on to the railings and that helps ground me. Although, if there’s a spare seat, even if your bag/coat/laptop/cat/whatever is on it – i will ask to sit down! Note to all train passengers: chairs are for bums not bags please take notice and do NOT give me a funny look when i ask to sit down; my bum is more important that your bag :).

The ‘New’ New Street Station – I happened to be traveling on the day that the ‘New’ New Street station opened, along with the day that Grand Central also opened. I knew this well in advance so phsyced up for it. However I actually think the ‘New’ New street is more Dyspraxic/Dyslexic friendly(!). At least I find it easier to navigate. From Day 1 i noticed how much lighter the station was and how much more space there was meaning there was less risk of walking into someone or wacking someone around the head with my heavy work Backpack (I now have to carry everything with me rather than leave things in my car and get as i need them like last year).

I also braved having a look around Grand Central on the day it opened. I wanted to take pictures ready for whenever I sat and did this blog… it was just too busy! Needless to say I didn’t stay long, but i felt like i acheived a little win being around all those people and not freaking out. I’ve since had a proper look – it’s great, although I’m yet to have a look in John Lewis.

Navigating Birmingham City Centre – Again, I won’t go in to this too much as i covered this in the ‘Getting lost’ blog, however for an update – I can now get to work with ease, although doing it 5 days a week I’d like to hope so! Again, since ‘New’ New street opened, theres now an exit closer to where I work which is a massive bonus!

However, something that still gives me a bit of anxiety (and I have had the odd panic attack due to this, with one earlier this week, not helped by an awful train journey!) is how busy with people walking the center. Like most dyspraxic’s, spacial awareness is not great… lots of people = increased risk of bumping in to people (which I have done a few times – sorry if it’s you I’ve walked into!). Everyone is also very detached which headphones in.

However, I’m now one of those headphone walkers. I’ve found that by putting in the earphones, blocking out the world and singing along (in my head, don’t worry!) to my favourite songs helps me take my mind off how busy it is.  I’ve found that listening to albums by the same artist works better than my MP3 player on shuffle as i can predict what’s coming next. So far I’ve found that albums by Gabrielle Aplin (English Rain; it’s fantastic and chilled out for those days really needing some calm – I have her second album, although I haven’t put it on my MP3 player yet, saving that treat for Monday), Taylor Swift (1989 – full of fantastic sing a long pop tunes, I’m a big fan of hers too!) and Years & Years (Communion – I love the dance feel first thing in a morning to get me up and going) work really well.

Apart from the work journey, I’ve also braved a few trips into the city centre to do some shopping on my own. I have had to ask work colleuges where I’m going (and got confused from their odd sounding directions… and won’t be following some again as the area of Birmingham I walked through looked a little rough!). I’ve managed this mostly well and found some new shops in the process.

Some positives of being in Birmingham City Center for work include:

  • Being able to just nip to get some shopping. I wanted some folders – i didn’t have to make a special trip into town for these, i just walked to Ryman’s and picked them up on the way home. I’ve also been able to do some clothes shopping without having to make a special trip which is both fantastic and leathal for my bank ballance!
  • Getting a free NME magazine on a Friday! I love music as i’m a radio presenter on local radio so this is fantastic reading for me… more on the radio in a few moments.
  • Being able to go into my favorite place way more often – an artisan tea shop! The shop is called Char Wallah and specializes in loose leaf tea – if you are a tea drinker you HAVE to try it! It tastes soo much better than your bagged stuff. I found this shop last Christmas on a shopping trip with my boyfriend. They sell big bags of the tea but they also do it by the pot so you can sit, chill out and drink tea in a peaceful environment – a pot of tea costs you less than a Costa/Starbucks splurge and you always feel more refreshed for it. They have a massive range of flavours too (I recommend the Caramel Roobios or ‘Grandma’s Garden’ fruit tea) – i will make it my mission to try most of them if not all by the end of the year!

work itself is going well. I’m now used to the different feeling campus to before and I’ve found a nice quiet staff room for lunch which works well for me. By lunch I just need some quiet time to get away from the hustle and bustle of a busy college life and just stick on my headphones and be anti-social or have a chat to a few people – I’ve met some lovely people all wanting the same thing, quiet and maybe a little chat but I’ve never felt like I have to talk to anyone.

So that’s the change of work out the way…. one more update My Car. I know a lot of you enjoyed reading about my experience of learning to drive, and don’t worry I haven’t stopped but as of this evening I have a new car which I’m picking up tomorrow. The TARDIS was getting old and has little niggles wrong with it… that and I had a little bump a few weeks ago which caused a few more issues… so it was time to move away from, as my dad put it, ‘the death trap’. As of tomorrow I will own a Metalic Grey Nissan Micra which is exciting.

Talking of tomorrow…. more specifically 10th October…

For those of you who don’t know, i’m a radio presenter on local community radio station TCR fm in Tamworth. I’ve done this since I was 16 and there’s a whole blog post coming your way soon about it – it’s sat in my drafts as it’s currently far too long!

Myself and Liam (My partner on air and off) are doing a Radio Show on local radio station TCR Fm for dyslexia awareness. We were lucky enough to get to have a chat to Dyslexic Film Makers Sid and Thom who are making a positive documentary called ‘I Am Dyslexic’ (Check them out on Facebook – I am Dyslexic Doc, their jokes are fantastic!) about their experiences and the idea stemmed from there. We were approached then by the fantastic Julie from local support group ‘Dig-It’ (Dyslexia Information Group In Tamworth) to make this into a longer show for the week which we jumped at. So as well as this interview we also talked to Becki Morris and Julie from Dig-it to be played out in the show. The music will also feature Dyslexic/Dyspraxic singers/songwriters/musicians.

The show is on from 11am until 1pm tomorrow (Sat 10th Oct 15) TCR fm. If you want to listen you can by:

  • Putting your radio to 106.8fm if you live in Tamworth (Staffs, UK) or the surounding areas
  • Online http://www.tcrfm.co.uk
  • On our mobile Apps for Apple and Android Devices
  • If you can’t listen at the time then on ‘Replay’ on the website – the show will be available for 7 days after original transmission date

I’ll be putting highlights on the blog early next week.

That’s the update… and i feel better for getting this out. Normal service has resumed!

Hannah

Dyspraxia, Dyslexia & Me: My University Experience

Last week saw A level Results day(Thursday 13th August, 2015) with thousands of students up and down the country, with and without Dyslexia/Dyspraxia, getting their results. Well done to everyone who sat their A Levels, no matter what your results you did well – just entering the exam room without screaming and running away is an achievement in itself.

Now the next step for a lot of people will be the daunting experience of heading off to University and leaving the comfort of home behind.

At this point i’ll state that going to Uni is NOT the be all and end all and if you didn’t get in, didn’t get your first choice or simply don’t want to go then that’s absolutely fine!

This post however, will be looking at my time as a Dyslexic/Dyspraxic person at university, some of the issues I encountered ,and hopefully giving people some useful tips that I found out the hard way.In this post, I’m not going to focus on the academics as that can change from course to course – here i’m just going to focus in on the practical things i learnt over time that helped me out with some of the difficulties I faced at universitydownload

A Background of my University choice & finding out i was Dyslexic/Dyspraxic

I decided that I wanted to study to become a British Sign Language Interpreter so choose to go to the University of Wolverhampton to study Interpreting (BSL/English). I applied, and got in after achieving some rather good grades at A Level (Psychology B, Health & Social Care B, Sociology B and Wolverhampton even accepted my General Studies B grade too). I loved Wolverhampton University, as well as the city in general and i’d recommend the university to others.

I feel this is also the point to state that before heading to University I had not been officially tested for Dyslexia (although I did have a short school statement) and had never been tested for Dyspraxia. The school did enough to allow me to qualify for extra time in exams but this wasn’t a proper statement so could not be used at University for any extra support through the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA), if i decided to apply. To qualify for DSA you have to have a full test, the school wouldn’t do this but my mum is very determined so she got me tested privately through the University, which wasn’t cheap and isn’t always an option for people. Thankfully my Mum, with a little help from Nan, managed to fund it so I got an assessment .

After sitting the assessment it confirmed I did indeed have Dyslexia and I officially found out i had Dyspraxia as well from the results of the test – literally 2-3 weeks before setting off for independence. My mum had already had suspicions so it wasn’t a huge shock.

Before: Being nervous and afraid that i’d get lost on the first day.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, i get lost VERY easily – before heading off to university I’d even get lost in my rather small home town just going shopping. As you can imagine this got me nervous. I wouldn’t be able to stop in the street, give my mum a call and describe where I was to get directions anymore.

My Solution: I  went to visit Wolverhampton LOTS in the time running up to officially moving; from open days to just going shopping with my Mum there. This helped me to familiarize myself with the area as much as possible. We walked from where i’d be living in Halls of Residents, to the University and from there to the Town center. I even made my mum walk to one of the clubs that I wanted to go to during Freshers.

Success rating 9.5/10 I found going before hand made me less nervous about going as i at least knew one route to get everywhere. I didn’t get lost during my time there either, at least not badly. Over my 4 years in Wolverhampton i got to know the place and find all the short cuts but, at least to begin with, I was able to navigate fairly well.

Issue before: What to take to University? This is the big question, for every student not just those of us with Dyslexia/Dyspraxia. I had (and still have) a LOT of stuff.

My advice (as there really isn’t a definitive solution to this, just hindsight!): Keep it light! My first year i took WAY too much stuff. No matter your size of room with your parents, your halls of residence dorm WILL be smaller (I have a fairly small room at home, trust me on this one!)

Pack essentials like a computer/laptop, backpack (or if your like me a nice bag on wheels to save your back on the long trips to the Library and back – seriously wheelie bags are a god send!), stationary, clothes, towels, make-up ect. Also don’t forget if you’re self catered, like i was, all those kitchen things; at least 4 plates/bowls, knife/forks (always have more than one pair – they WILL get lost, especially tea spoons – take LOTS of teaspoons!), mugs (try and make it distinctive, not just white – they WILL get lost/used by others if not as they may thing they are there’s – i had a mug with my name on it as a Birthday Present whilst at uni from a friend – i never lost that!), saucepans, wooden spoons, baking tray and anything else you want to cook with.

DO NOT take: Kettle, microwave (these will be provided), mini fridge (Often banned in bedrooms for fire hazards although some universities do allow these) or any other big items. ALWAYS check your University banned items list if in halls, if in doubt don’t take it until you know the rules.

After the essentials take things to remind you of home or to brighten up your room. Good ideas include:

  • Digital Photo Frame – all your pictures in one place and not cluttering your room
  • Posters for your walls – anything you love! I had Dr Who, Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh… make sure you use WHITE TACK as it won’t stain the walls like Blue tack does and stains mean charges at the end of the year.
  • A TV – Note, if you take a TV you must buy a TV licence
  • Games Console – I took a PS1/PS2 with me along with a DS, it was a great way to bond with your other flatmates; especially in my last year where i lived with a girl on Games Design course, she loved the retro compared to her PS3! A PS3/PS4/XBox also does the trick but see my note on taking TV’s! Board games, or apps of these, work well too – we had regular monopoly nights in my final year using my iPad.
  • Pillows/Cusions/Lamps – be careful with a lamp. TOP TIP: Lamps burn scarfs – don’t be the the idiot that burns there’s by leaving it under the lamp at 3am and setting off the fire alarm – your block will hate you! (Note: this was not me but a friend who lived in the same block as me during freshers year)

Dilemma: To apply or not for DSA?

This one really comes down to personal preference, so again no definitive solution, go with your gut and what you feel is right for you. Some people may see this as ‘cheating’ but it isn’t. Its designed to make it a level playing field so that any disability related difficulties linked to study can be overcome.

I, with some guidance from my Mum, decided to apply for DSA allowance. Overall I was able to claim for:

  • A Computer with assistive technology software – Because of my eyes, i wasn’t allowed a laptop so i got a desktop computer. It came pre-programmed with Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software, Read-Write Gold and Inspiration Mind Mapping software. I used all three. Dragon is great for short bursts, i couldn’t do a whole essay – i did try but it changing ‘Death’, which is what it thought i said, to ‘Deaf’, which is what i wanted it to say, constantly was annoying. It works great if you have the time to train it, as a busy uni student I didn’t. I loved read-write gold – it reads out loud to you, great for reading long web journals. Inspiration is also great if you like mind maps like i do!
  • A Dictaphone & Software – I would have struggled without this! I used my dictaphone in a lot of my lectures (where I could as most were presented in BSL so it didn’t work there for fairly obvious reasons!) as it meant I wasn’t worrying about making notes and taking things in. I’d make some notes in class, take the recording home and then add to them whilst listening to it again.
  • Spell checker & Oxford Dictionary PC software  i still use this ocassionally as I don’t like dictionaries but nothing to rave about
  • I was also entiled to something daft like 8-12hrs with a dyslexia specialist. I used this during my first year as it was a ‘Foundation’ and i wanted to improve my English. My second year I went with an essay but didn’t find it useful as they wanted to change things and it wouldn’t have been near the brief i took with me (I was asked to make a leaflet, they wanted to change it into a proper essay format…) I didn’t bother going back as I was happy on my own. However, others in my class used this and loved it – each to their own but I’ve always preferred to be independent when it comes to study time anyway.

Overal, DSA was for me just ‘OK’. The assistive tech was great, to the point I’m contemplating purchasing Dragon & Read Write on my new laptop but in all honesty, i hardly used it for academics – i just feel it’d be useful for blogging and other admin work i do now.

Whilst At University

Being forgetful

So, for most of us going to University will be the first time living away from Parents/Gaurdians. It’ll also be the first time where they won’t be saying ‘do you have XYZ’ and prompting you to remember things, which for a dyslexic (or me at least) was practically every time i went out.

Casing point: one of my first nights out at university i got nearly all the way to the club before remembering i didn’t have my ID to get in. Thankfully I had an amazing friend with me who walked back to my room with me to pick it up, and did’t laugh…much anyway. I also frequently nearly forgot Keys, Books… you name it, at one point i forgot it!

My Solution: I made a mind map of things i should have on me at any given time and taped them to the back of my door at eye level! It worked a treat. I had three separate ones: One for ‘University’ with Keys, Uni ID, Library Books, Pen & Paper, Dictaphone, Memory stick, Assignments & Purse on it; a second for ‘Going out’ with Keys, I.D., Uni I.D (ALWAYS take both, you get in cheaper to places sometimes having a Uni ID badge) & Purse; and one for going home with Keys, House Keys, Clothes, Laptop, Memory Stick, Purse ect on. As this was at eye level it meant i could check things off before leaving the room. I also took photos of the actual thing rather than using a stock clip art photo – it was much more visual that way.

Success rating: 9/10 i didn’t forget things as often, but a couple of things did slip through the net!

Remembering when to take back Library books

This was something I’ve always been a bit bad at – remembering to take things on loan back on time. At university, you get fined per day that the book doesn’t go back in, and you can rack up a fair bit of charge. I wasn’t supposed to get charged with the DSA that i’d claimed for, but still did and I couldn’t be bothered to sort it out so I had to find a way to remember.

Solution: When you take out a university book, at wolverhampton at least, you had an option of using either a libarian to check your book out or a self service machine. The librarian stamped the front of the book BUT you get a receipt if you use the self service machines (think your local supermarket, without the annoying ‘please place your item in the bagging area’ lady!). I always used self service for this reason. I then pinned up the self service receipt to my notice board, which came supplied by the Accomodation as standard, which was normally next to the computer desk. A quick glance at this and hey presto, i remembered the date.

Success rating: 8/10  i forgot the odd book but nothing more than a couple of days.

Loosing things

So I’m a forgetful so-and-so, and also a fairly messy one (although i prefer to call it organised chaos!). Everything to the outside world would look awful, to me i could put my hands on most of the big items. It was the little things that always got away, namely my University ID badge (which without you could not enter the campus!) and my room keys.

Solution – I got out a notice board pin and went ahead and put a pin through the lanyard that came with the university ID badge (seen as you were supposed to wear it at all times, in relatity nobody did, it stayed in a bag somewhere to be pulled out if approached with Security!) and stuck it to the notice board. I’d then hang the keys up on the head of the pin – as it had a ridge they stayed on. This meant i would never forget my Lanyard as my keys were on it, and never loose my keys… in theory

Success rating: 7.5/10 this only works if you remember to always put it back in the same place! When I did though it worked a charm.

Organizing work into priorities

I’ve always been fairly bad when it comes to organizing things (again see past blog post). I won’t go into that here in too much detail except to say that unlike school where maybe you had 1-2 bits of things to do and you had a week to do it, you get tones – and some with months to finish it off, especially when it comes to essays, but some with days (or even overnight!) to do it. Nightmare! Then you also have the non-university academic things like keeping on top of your room or any other little job you want to do to factor in.

Solution: I LOVE post-it notes. It drives people batty but i LOVE them so much! I got some of the XL post-it notes in three colours; Pink, Orange and Green. I then every week pinned up one of each in a trafic light system on my notice board; Pink *subsituting for red* for urgent, must do this within the next two days, Orange for fairly urgent – get round to this soon, and Green for not overly important – it needs doing but if you don’t get time this week don’t worry.

I’d then tick these off as i’d done them. At the end of the week i’d review them with anything that hadn’t been done from the Pink i’d Panic (although this didn’t often happen) and do it there and then, push up anything from Orange to Pink when needed and review the Green to see if it had become any more urgent.

Success Rating: 8/10 I loved how visual this was as i love colour co-ordinating things. I’m serious thinking about reviving this in my day to day life post-university. Most of the time everything got done… just be carful with the green things – jobs like ‘vacuum room’ or ‘dust computer’ never actually got done!

Although I’m sure i had other difficulties at university, none of them really stand out now so this is just those little solutions that friends and family members were both impressed, and shocked, at – most of them people had never thought of before.

Overall, University was the best experience of my life, and my Dyslexia/Dyspraxia did not hold me back one little bit. I graduated in 2013 with a 2:1 (hons) degree. 1234103_10201098076711335_1580200200_n

To all of you going off to university this year – Enjoy it! Feel free to try out any of my little tricks and let me know if they worked for you!

Dyspraxia, Dyslexia & Me: The art of being (un)Organised

As the lack of Blog Posts over the last few weeks will be a testament to, I have the art of being extremely Unorganised down to a tee. A skill I think a lot of other Dyslexic/Dyspraxic people have too. Down to the point I’ve been meaning to do this blog post for a few days, and haven’t been organised enough to make time to do this (right now i’m totally procrastinating from doing any other work that needs to be done, another ‘skill’ i have mastered over the years).

I’m always trying to make myself just that little less chaotic – i have countless diaries that I’ve ‘started’ to use over the years but given up on to prove this. However, recently I think, just think, I may have found the answers to making my life a bit better.

Here’s a few things that I’ve started to do which, touch wood, seem to have helped me so far.

Actually making my bed in the morning: Over the year’s I’ve just gone for ‘throw the covers back on the bed in some sort of fashion so there at least not hanging off approach’. The last few weeks however, I’ve started using the lovely blanket that I was bought at Christmas as a throw and sticking a few cushions on which used to live on the floor. Oddly, it makes me feel way more ready to face the day and do my jobs.

Using a calendar properly: Last year at work I had that many different shift patterns I gave up trying to remember. That’s where a diary comes in handy. HOWEVER My life is that super busy (Work, Volunteering at a Radio Station, Socialising, Going to the Gym for classes….) that just one diary isn’t enough. I have a calendar at eye level height on the back of my door – which in itself isn’t unusual, but what is is the type of calendar I have. I have a ‘BusyB’ calendar which, a little like one of those ‘family calendars’ has 5 (6 if you include the pre loaded Birthday’s) columns on it with blank heading spaces. This has allowed me to have different calendars for each thing but in the same place. 

i-Phone shared diaries: This is an absolute gem! As I’m so busy volunteering and i’m one of the supervisors for some of our younger members, I have a calendar that is shared between myself, my boyfriend (also volunteers and supervises at the same place, we do this mostly together) and our ‘Line Manager’ and then I also can see my Line Managers calander. By sharing things, it means that even if I forget what’s going on, someone else will know – a massive help. Also by having it on my phone it’s always to hand. It’s helped us organise days off and cover for people so much easier too.

Using a ‘to do list’: A little while ago I bought a ‘To Do list’ book from a well known stationary shop… I used it for a bit it was great. Then a couple of weeks later… ‘write in my to-do list book’ became the first to do of the day, and often wasn’t completed. The days I use this when I’m volunteering doing Admin work I actually get things done.

Using Project Plans: I’ve created a lovely document a few weeks ago, again whilst procrastinating from actually doing any of my real work, to help me brake down a big project into lots of smaller tasks. I get overwhelmed sometimes by a big project which seems like mountain bigger than Everest to complete. Now I’ve got this document where I set out the big aim but then brake that down into smaller tasks that need to be done for the big project to be completed. I also have a box for any problems I may come across so I remember to ask for help along with a box for useful websites i’ve used. This has genuinly helped no end! It’s made what seemed like an Everest into more of a Ben Nevis, and I’ve got the big tasks done quicker as I’m more focused.

Having a major sort out of my room: Like a lot of Dyslexic’s that I know, my room was a super full on tip – at least to the outside world. I sort of knew where everything was and could just about put my hands on things, but getting to these places was a bit of a nightmare. So the other week I had a massive sort out and I’ve made spaces for specific things. I’ve always had a Book & DVD draw – my most prized possessions include my Harry Potter Books & DVD’s so they had to be safe! The only draw that was fully organised before hand was my DVD draw as I’ve always made sure that DVD’s are grouped together by series (I have a LOT of Dr Who DVDs that have to be in order!) – along with a stationary draw but now I have a more organised stationary draw, place where I know my Blankets are and at least a vague home for other things. It’s not perfect yet but it’s better than it was.

And now I also have A Blog post Planner and Calendar which I stumbled upon on the internet. It can be found here for anyone interested. Although I’ve not started to use it yet, it should allow me to write down blog post Ideas as they spring to mind for the week, plan what I’m up to this week and what may just be interesting to blog about, along with set myself a schedule of when these should be posted on.

A few other things that I’d like to try and do to get myself more organise include:

  • Set a time each morning to write a list of things that need doing, especially when volunteering. Tick these off as we go along and evaluate them at the end of the day so I’m not constantly thinking ‘what have i got to do’ or ‘what haven’t I done today’
  • Use the blog planner & write at least one blog post a week, aiming to have it published by 6pm on a Sunday afternoon
  • Use my iPhone calendar more for every day things, not just for my Volunteer work.

If you’ve got any more tips that have worked for you, greatly appreciated! Also feel free to try out some of my methods and let me know if they work for you.

Dyslexia, Dyspraxia & Me: Getting lost & Not being afraid to ask for help

So I have an awful sense of direction, like totally terrible. Growing up, I actually could only navigate around my home town in one direction. If I didn’t start at the same point, and go to specific places in the same way I would get totally disorientated. I’m a lot better around my home town now thankfully!

Before going to University, I had to go a few times with my Mum and physically walk the route i’d be taking from Halls of Residence up to the university campus. I also had to then get her to walk from the campus to the town Centre, to where i’d be working and some other places that I’d need. This was a slight blessing in disguise as I was the only Fresher who knew how to get to a couple of the bars on the first night – a few freshers friends were made from this! Again by the end of the four years at the University I knew the city like the back of my hands and could get to places in a few different ways.

  • Although I’m not as bad with directions as I was, If i’m put in a new situation I get lost and panic. Before I go anywhere new I have to look on Google Maps, street view and figure out places of interest that I’d need to go past to get to where I need to be. However, when I get there I normally still get lost and panic – but I’m never affraid to ask a random person on the street for a bit of help. The people I ask are normally people who are working in either Train Stations or Food Outlets on the street – If i can’t find someone like that then just someone else walking the similar way to me, although I am careful in this situation.

The most recent situation I got myself in to was going to work last week in the center of Birmingham at a College campus I don’t normally work at. I go to Birmingham all the time with my Boyfriend and we even walk past where I work so it should have been a doddle right….?

I decided because how awful the roads are in the area where the college is, I’d take the train. I go to Birmingham via Train all the time – but normally from Sutton Coldfield or Cosehill Parkway, and with my Boyfriend who is fantastic on trains and fantastic with directions so I normally just follow. However, because of the time I had to be at the campus, I decided to go from Tamworth Station where I never normally go from.

A couple of days before I looked online for train times and found what I needed and also looked at Street view for how to get to work. I also asked my Boyfriend and he told me how to get there in a better way than what I knew which would have involved going all through the Bullring shopping center and taking forever! I vaguely understood what the plan was so felt fairly good when i got on the train.

I got to Birmingham no problem, but when I arrived at the station i was on a completly different platform to what i knew before with two sets of stairs! I got disorientated and started to panic a little – not clever! Fortunatly I found a train conductor guy and asked him how to get to the campus. He started spouting left, rights, straights, round and rounds so quickly I got confused. My face must have said it all as i got ‘Are you familiar with Birmingham?’. I replied that I was but that I am Dyslexic so struggle with directions. Immediately he stopped, thought about it and said ‘I’ll give you some easier directions, hang on whilst I think’ – he gave me a couple of directions with some buildings & signs to look out for and bid me on my way. He was lovely – thanks Mr Train man (I Didn’t get his name unfortunately).

I managed to follow the nice mans instructions… To the top of the stairs! I got there and completely blanked what he just said. My short term memory is awful. I had to ask again – this guy was the person looking at tickets at the exit and wasn’t impressed I had asked. But he did give me the prod I needed in the right direction.

Unfortunately, part way round I got lost again! Yet again I found a friendly brummy – this time a street cleaner  who again pointed me in the right direction. I’ve decided that brummys are the most helpful people ever after this!

I finally got to work… Over 45 mins early. Another one of my traits – I panic if I think I’m going to be late, so knowing that I was probably going to get lost I left very early.

After a long days to work all I ha to do we get back to then train station the way I came, easy right? Well I forogt which way I went earlier in the day. Fortunately the nice train guys at moor street pointed me in the right direction to new street and all should have been good.

However,, a train station is not a great place for a dyslexic due to the train announcement boards. I actually can’t read them very well. The ones that new street, and most stations, use are computer screens with orange LED style text which is awful. That and they only show the main stop in the entrance – not helpful if you constantly forget which line your on.

luckly, every time I’ve traveled to new street on my own there has always been a nice national rail person with an iPad or some sort of knowledge to help out. I always approach and explain I’m dyslexic and I can’t read there boards well and they arr super helpfu! This time it was a guy with an iPad who said platform number and time but before I’ve been personally walked to the train by someone which was lovely!

So what have I learnt from this:

  • That you should always ask for help if you need too – and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to say if you have dyslexica as people are generally even more helpful!
  • That national rail workers are awesome people!
  • That business men love the stylist magazine – I left one on a seat before leaving for someone to have a read off after me seen as it was free and a guy in a suit seemed to really like it!

Dyspraxia & Me: My Exercise Journey… The Begining

Back in April, I did the most daunting thing ever – I joined an actual Gym(!!!). It’s the Gym where my Mum had been, and still is, going for a while. The Gym I’ve joined is Tamworth’s Bannatynes and it’s blooming marvelous! Here’s the start of my Journey as a Dyspraxic Adult getting to grips with Exercise over the last few months.

I was always a bit of an exercise shirker – I loathed P.E at school. Team sports with a ball and/or bat – totally not for a Dyspraxic (although I was part of the School’s Netball Team, that I could do… but i did play GK to avoid the running!). Athletics & Cross Country – well that meant running and I over-exagerate my arms and can’t co-ordinate my legs well, I call this my ‘Penguin Run’ now! And anything else i Simply didn’t enjoy… don’t get me started on the Beep test! Which Is why the rest of this post is something that even this time last year I never thought I’d ever do – but i found something that I love and i’ve kept with it, and more.

Just after Christmas this year, I can’t remember exactly when, I started attending an exercise class with my mum, and my Nan, after work – it’s called FitSteps. The class itself was created by Ian Whaite and Natalie Lowe from Strictly Come Dancing and it’s Latin and Ballroom dances done without a partner to popular music. Yes… a Dyspraxic went to a Dance class, survived without any major injuries and loved it!

The instructor, Emma, is amazing and really makes the class a lot of fun and brakes down the steps so even those of us with little-to-no co-ordination can at least give it a shot. I was pretty awful to begin with but after lots of perseverance I got better and better – and now I can do most of the steps for most of the dances (It certainly helps that the dances stay the same to each bit of music, and each style of music the steps stay mostly the same too). Nobody bats an eyelid if you go wrong, loose balance or can’t do the step completely correct (or even at all!) – you’re paying that much attention to what you’re doing it doesn’t matter one little bit, as long as you keep moving that’s the main thing and you’ll pick it up eventually. Nobody gets it completely the first week or second or third… or sometimes even after months of trying. My favorite dances at the moment include a Rumba to Emillie Sande’s ‘Beneath your beautiful’, Tango to Rhianna ‘Sweet Dreams’, Cha Cha Cha’s to Carly Rae Jepson ‘Call me Maybe’ and also Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, Tango-Cha Cha Cha to Britney Spear’s ‘Toxic’ and a Jive to Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It off’… we’re just learning a Passo fusion (with either Samba/Salsa.. one or the other) to a remix of Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’ which is amazing! To be honest, all the dances are great so it doesn’t matter which ones come up I’m never disappointed (unless it’s a long QuickStep… not a fan of that, towards the end at least!).

Here’s an example of one of the routines taken from YouTube – it’s not my instructor and we do it a tiny bit differently but it gives you an idea… oh and this is only the warm up!

I absolutely love the FitSteps class – it’s one massive party for 45minuites and it goes so quickly. I’ve tried to do at least one class a week since the start, but the class that I started could be difficult to get to due to work occasionally but the Banatynnes Gym mum was going to did it there, which was how she got into the class, so I was looking at possibly joining up, pretty much purely for this class.

In March, Banantynnes did a ‘three day pass’ for £10, seemed like as good as any an opportunity to try it out and see if it could work for me. I made sure my three day pass included at least one day where FitSteps was on, so at least there’d be something I’d enjoy, and went on down – gym bag and sweat towel in hand. Needless to say, I loved my Gym experience otherwise this post wouldn’t exist. I used the Gym equipment with my Mum upstairs – i used a Bike, a Treadmill – although that made me rather dizzy and motion sick!, and a cross trainer, I went to a FitSteps class (naturally!) and I also used the 20m single depth pool and attempted a bit of a doggy paddle (certainly wasn’t a recognizable swim stroke… somewhere near a front crawl though). After my 3 days I put my X on the dotted line and joined the gym!

The first day attending on my own without my mum was daunting. However, my mum knows far too many people there and they all made sure I felt welcome and made me feel at ease – and they still do. The changing room is one big chat factory and totally intimidating – someone should tell teenage girls that this is how changing rooms should be and that being evil to the point where people want to change in the deepest darkest corner is not ok!

To start off with I only swam – and only my somewhere resembling a front crawl. I started off managing 20-30 lengths in about 40-50 minutes, which i was totally chuffed with. The fact that the pool is single depth really helped – it means that if I ever got into a problem I could just put my feet down no worries which helped my confidence no end (and still does). I’d then sit in the Jacuzzi or spa pool and chill out for a bit, and still do after a swim – best part of the work out that! Then in May I decided I wanted more and decided to delve into the scary world of the Gym.

At School, we had a Gym facility that we occasionally were allowed to use in P.E – i hated it (noticing a bit of a trend here?!?). All the girls would egg each other to go faster, and i actually had cases of where ‘friends’ (or evil cows…) would make the machine I was going faster whilst I was still on it because… well I have no idea why to be honest! So Not the best memories in the world.

Needless to say, my Gym experience now is absolutely nothing like this at all and, shock horror, I love it!

I had my Gym induction with an instructor called Wendy – the same person as My mum uses (and my brother, and now my Boyfriend too – she’s got the set!). Me and my mum had already explained about my Dyspraxia and she had a vague idea what it was so was really understanding. She split my Gym induction in two for me – one day focusing on the cardio machines and another a few weeks later looking at the weight machines and other stretches – so not to overwhelm (her idea not mine but was definatly the right one!). The Gym’s just been re-done too and it looks fabulous.

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At the moment I’m still on my first ‘routine’ – which involves 10-15minuites on a bike with a back (so like a car seat), 10-15 minuites on a Vario Machine (It’s like a cross-trainer but you mimic running on it – it’s lower impact and doesn’t make me dizzy), 1000m on a rower, some weight machines, squats using a exercise ball against a wall and some fantastic balance exercises on a fit-ball. All in all, if I do everything, I’m up there about an hour. I’m getting less out of breath, managing to up the resistance a little at a time and do longer on things too so I’m certainly getting there on my fitness scale.

As of right now my typical week at the gym includes:

  • 2-3 fitsteps classes
  • 2 gym sessions (sometimes only 1 but I always aim for the 2)
  • 3-4 swims – i now swim breast stroke and fairly quickly. If i’ve done a class or the gym I do 30 lengths after (about half an hour) or if not I do 60 lengths (just under an hour at last count… and i probably could have kept going). That’s just under a mile in the pool – with 80 being the full mile.
  • An aqua class if i can make it – it’s nothing like those you get on holiday, it’s pretty intense.

As of this week I can also add a ‘Body Balance’ class to this list. That’s a mix of Thai Chi, Pilates and Yoga and really does focus on balancing and your core. I really enjoyed my first class – and i’ll be going back too. The instructor, Lesa, was brilliant with me – we explained about the dyspraxia and when i had a few issues getting into some of the poses she came and did them next to me and showed me the easier versions. Of course I wobbled during the class – again nobody cared as they were all busy getting into there own ‘Downward Facing Dog’s’ to notice my feeble first attempt.

I also use an exercise tracker called ‘Misfit’ too which I brought with some Christmas money from the Gadget Show which helps me stay motivated to move, and tracks my sleep, – i think that warrants its own post later though, maybe that can be exercise part 2! On top of all that I also go out on Bike rides with my boyfriend after I learnt last year – again another long story for another post.

So far so good with the whole getting fitter journey! I certainly am fitter and get out of breath less. My balance has improved significantly – when I started the FitSteps class I couldn’t do the stretch standing on one leg and holding the bent leg up -; I can now do this 80% of the time. My back doesn’t play up as much – although it will never correct itself its nice to be in less pain. And I’ve lost weight too as an added bonus.

To any Dyspraxic wanting to do exercise but isn’t sure where to start – find something you love and work from there. Without FitSteps I’d have never have joined the gym, never have met some really nice people and would probably be spending my days binge watching Game Of Thrones (I’m watching it, just not back to back as I’m out moving – no spoilers please, i’m only half way through season 5!!!).

To all the staff at Banatynes Tamworth; especially Wendy, and also Emma the FitSteps instructor – a massive big THANK YOU for being amazing people and for giving me the confidence, patience and time to get into something I now love.

I’m sure I’ll be keeping you updated when I try more things out, but for now – one wards and upwards (or downwards please scales!)

Dyslexia & Me: Why is the English Language so hard?

Along with being Dyspraxic, I’m also Dyslexic.

At a later date, I’ll write about what Dyslexia is and how Dyslexia can affect me on a day-to-day basis and look at Dyslexia more in depth, but that’s not what this blog post is all about.

Earlier on today I found this poem on Facebook:

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Credit: http://www.facebook.com/grammarly

This got me thinking – isn’t the English language an absolute pig at times! It’s no wonder that so many people, even Non-Dyslexic’s, struggle with the written word.

For a Dyslexic person, this can be even more difficult as I certainly learn the language by rules. If that rule isn’t there in the first place how are we supposed to know what’s to do. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve got a plural of something wrong – I’ve always called more than one ox ‘Oxes’ – it’s Foxes not Foxen so why not.

We were having a chat at work earlier too along this sort of vain in the staff room. The question ‘What’s the plural of a Computer Mouse?’. A simple question for those of us working as support tutors at a college? Wrong! We figured that if we said ‘We need to sort out the mice in here’ it would sound like we had a rodent problem without clarification (not the image the college would like to promote) but that ‘mouses’ just didn’t feel right. This was a debate that we decided was best not to dwell on. I’ve since googled the question and, to add to the confusion, you can actually use either ‘Mice’ or ‘Mouses’ when talking about the computer variety.

It certainly feels like the English language is out to get Dyslexics. If only we could re-write the language so that everything made much more sense and followed at least a couple of basic rules all of the time. It’d help everyone and save these sort of debates during lunch hour and mean we can have our tea and biscuits in peace.

Dyspraxia & Me: Driving

Earlier this week the Driving Test in the UK turned 80 Years Old. The test was introduced on 1st June 1935 so I thought I’d blog about my experiences with Driving & The test as a Dyspraxic Adult – I meant to do this earlier in the week but, as a classic dyspraxic/dyslexic person, I forgot!

My driving journey started later than most – I decided not to start learning when I was 17 but i waited until I was 18. Like all young adults getting in the car for the first time was nerve wracking, even more so knowing how difficult i used to find it to even cross the road unaided some times as I couldn’t, and still can’t always, judge how fast cars are moving.

My first driving teacher was ok to begin with, but eventually we parted ways as I felt I wasn’t progressing (the insistence to ‘drive fast’ and only being taken down country lanes until I could was too much!). I went off to university and that was that for a little while.

In this time i sat my theory & hazard perception test, which I passed first time. I used the PC CD-ROM that was linked to the test over and over again until I managed to get to the pass rate. I found a lot of these things were common sense, especially when you’re learning to drive at the same time too. I wasn’t a massive fan of the books that went along with them, i would much prefer to do ‘mock tests’. It’s worth pointing out that if you are Dyslexic and you have proof, e.g. a statement from your school, you can apply for extra time and also to have the questions read out to you by the computer using a headset at the theory test center – I did this and found it helped as I was able to understand the question better.You can do this online when booking the test.

Whilst I was at University my Mum’s best friend’s husband started to learn to become a driving instructor and needed a ‘guinea pig’ – I was more than happy to oblige. This worked out fantastic for both of us; I had a tutor who didn’t know exactly what to expect with a student and he had probably the most difficult student he’d probably ever have (Sorry Steve!).

Finding the right instructor is paramount – and that’s what I got in Steve. He changed things to suit my learning style – everything became visual. Before learning a new maneuver he’d get out a white board – it started by drawing rectangles and showing how the car should move. Although it helped i still struggled to visualize where the car was going.

After a few lessons Steve got out a pack of toy cars with a ‘this may not work but lets try it’. We drew out the road where I was, or at least the lay out, put the car where it was stationary and then moved the car through the stages I needed to do. This was fantastic as I could see exactly what was expected and I manged to replicate it in the car. These toy cars where brought out every single lesson from then on in pretty much – and I know for a fact he’s still using this method with his pupils today.

Another thing I found difficult whilst learning to drive was lane discipline. This was overcome by a small sticky dot on the inside of the windscreen which, if i was driving correctly, should line up with the white lines on the road – it certainly helped. I also had sticky dot for bay parking so i could visualize where the line should be for me when reversing into a spot.

It wasn’t all plain sailing when it came to the test either; it took roughly 2 years from the start of my journey to having the confidence to sit my first practical test. The first one i failed after driving only to the end of the road by the test center (probably a record!). I got to a roundabout and misjudged how fast a car was coming round and went for it – for the examiner to then use their emergency break, causing automatic fail, although i had to finish the test. The second one O failed too – right at the end of the test, on the last roundabout before going back to the center; i saw the hazard but the examiner saw it first and used the brake for me, another automatic fail. It was third time lucky, even if there was a few minors and a ‘questionable’ major (which the examiner finally deemed it wasn’t at the end of the test!). I passed in July of 2011.

I then decided to buy myself a car, which i still drive to this day!

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It’s a beautiful little KA – I call it my TARDIS. I’m a huge DR Who fan, it’s the same colour as his Time.And.Relative.Dimension.In.Space machine and it really is bigger on the inside!

Now I’ve been driving for nearly 4 years, I find it’s easier – as it becomes for every driver. I now don’t have to think as much about things like gear changes, although I still find lane discipline can be a little difficult (i haven’t put a spot on my car, but if i’m having a bad day i know roughly where the line should be).

I still sometimes find night driving to be a challenge. Due to the scotopic sensitivity I sometimes find other car headlights to be too bright, like they are on main beam when I know they aren’t. I also find it harder to judge distance during the evening, as my boyfriend found out – I drove him home through a country lane, I came over the brow of a hill and panicked as I thought I had to drive through a busy road! Turns out it was just a bridge of the M42 going over the road I was on but I had a full on panic in the car as I thought I was going to crash into it, much to his amusement (I’m not allowed to forget this!).

I now really enjoy driving, locally anyway – i’m not a fan of motorways.

To any Dyspraxic who’s thinking about driving but isn’t sure the advice I’d give them is:

  • To talk to your instructor and be upfront with them before you start – they’ll notice that your finding it difficult if you are and will be trying to figure out why. If you tell them before you start about your Dyspraxia, even if you have to explain what it is a little (i suggest using examples of co-ordination & spacial awareness in this situation), it takes out the guess work out!
  • If something doesn’t make sense to you linked to what you’re being taught ALWAYS tell the instructor this – they won’t mind, actually they’d prefer it. You’re in charge of a potentially dangerous machine behind a wheel of a car and they want to make sure your safe – and you can only be safe if you’ve fully understood. If you learn best in a particular way, tell them (like i said i found the toy cars particularly useful, feel free to ask them to do this for you too if you think it will help!).
  • Go for it and try your best – you never know what you’re capable of until you try!

Hannah

Dyspraxia & Me – What is Dyspraxia

Before I go any further on my Blogging journey I feel it’s only right to explain what Dyspraxia is for those of you who may not be aware, or for those of you who may just to know what Dyspraxia is through the eyes of someone who has it. As a lot of this blog will probably mention this, it seems only fair.

Dyspraxia, sometimes this is referred to as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) (this is a bit of a mouthful, Dyspraxia is much nicer), is defined by the NHS as:

a condition affecting physical co-ordination that causes a child to perform less well than expected for his or her age in daily activities and appear to move clumsily.

NHS Choices, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dyspraxia-(childhood)/Pages/Introduction.aspx

I’m not a fan of this definition, although fairly accurate, so i’ll try and describe it in my own words.

The best analogy I’ve ever heard came from someone I follow on Twitter, I’d love to credit them but I’ve forgotten who it was. They compared Dyspraxia to a dodgy wifi signal that constantly buffers – the computer knows what it needs to do, and tries really hard to open that internet tab, but it just takes a little while longer to do everything. I’ll add to this that eventually that computer gets tired, the wifi doesn’t want to work anymore and needs a re-boot.  That for me sums it up nicely.

As a Dyspraxic young adult I know how things should be done, like buttoning things up or cutting up food with a sharp knife, but sometimes it just takes a lot more concentration (especially if there is a sharp knife involved, i’ve lost track of how many fingers i’ve cut – i still have a little scar from one or two incidents!), effort and time. Often Dyspraxic’s can become tired quiet easily because of all the extra effort they have to put in to achieve some of these little tasks.

Things that Dyspraxia affects the most is movement and co-ordination, both Fine Motor and Gross Motor along with spacial awareness. These things take a lot more planning to carry out for a Dyspraxic than someone who doesn’t have this.

Fine Motor things can include:

  • Finding it difficult to write & hold a pen
  • Finding it difficult to use cutlery
  • Difficulties with some of the movements that other people take for granted such as putting on make-up, brushing hair, doing up buttons & tying shoe-laces.

Gross Motor things can include:

  • Poor balance so can find it difficult to ride a bike & walk up/down hills.
  • Poor Posture & difficulties standing for long periods of time
  • Poor Hand Eye co-ordination – don’t ask a Dyspraxic to catch a ball and expect them too first time.
  • Often fall over, trip etc. – often over thin air! Also may bump into people quite a bit.

TES Resources have made a fantastic little mind-map about some of the difficulties that Dyspraxic children face:

I often have to think about moving before i start – especially if there are stairs involved as i can’t always judge the depth of the step, and i always have to hold a hand-rail when out and about (although i’m not so bad at home, i’m probably just used to these stairs having lived here all my life) and I’ve only just in the last year learnt how to ride a bike (future blog post right there!). The lack of Spacial awareness  means I’ve literally walked into lamp-posts before not realizing how close they were. In a busy area bumping into someone is fairly inevitable.

Other things affect Dyspraxic’s too, naturally, and not every person with Dyspraxia is the same or has the same difficulties. I’ll post another blog at some point explaining how some of the difficulties affect my every day life – but that’s for another day.

If you have any questions about Dyspraxia feel free to ask and i’ll do my best to answer. Helpful websites that explain Dyspraxia a little more scientifically than myself are:

Dyspraxia Foundation – really good website that gives advice to parents who think their children may have/does have dyspraxia as well as listing possible difficulties for both Children & Adults.

NHS Choices – although i’m not a massive fan of the definition, my boyfriend said he read this when we first started dating as he wanted to know more about Dyspraxia to be more supportive (another blog post in the future perhaps?) and has told me it’s rather good.

Hannah