Living with Dyspraxia - Celebrating Dyspraxia Week
Every year, Dyspraxia Week (9-15 October) aims to raise awareness of this surprisingly common condition, which is also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD).
What is dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects motor coordination (i.e., physical coordination and movement). While it is often picked up in childhood, it can go undiagnosed until adulthood.
The condition can impact on every aspect of a person’s life, making routine tasks and activities of daily living much harder. As well as affecting a person’s movement, balance and spatial awareness and making it difficult for them to learn and apply motor skills to carry out new tasks and activities, dyspraxia can also impact on planning and organisation skills. Many people with the condition experience problems with time management, concentration, focus and memory and find it difficult to learn new information. Speech and language can also sometimes be affected.
However, despite around 5%-10% of the population having some form of dyspraxia, there is sadly still a lack of understanding about the condition, which can often be mistaken for clumsiness and can sometimes cause people to encounter problems at school or at work.
Life with dyspraxia
Someone who knows first-hand about the challenges of living with dyspraxia is Medigold Health’s IT Support Engineer, Natalie Betts, who was diagnosed with the condition as a young child. Always keen to help improve awareness, here she shares her story with us:
Hi, I’m Natalie, I am 31 years old and I have dyspraxia.
My diagnosis came in the 1990s, when there was very little known about the condition.
I was told my dyspraxia is not severe. However, as a child I did have noticeable problems – my balance, coordination and manual dexterity were all hindered. To this day, I still can’t ride a bike.
As an adult, coordination is still an issue. I also sometimes find it hard to concentrate and can struggle with getting myself organised and planning my time. Spatial awareness can be an issue at times as well, I will think something is much closer to me than it actually is!
Whilst generally I can manage quite well at work, sometimes I can find I am affected by my dyspraxia. However, I am very fortunate to have great support within Medigold Health and from my Line Manager, who will help me to organise my tasks and give me the ability to catch up on work if I am getting overwhelmed with deadlines.
I like to raise awareness of dyspraxia, as I don’t think it is properly understood still. Unfortunately, in the past I have been labelled as not intelligent due to suffering with it, even though dyspraxia does not affect intelligence at all.
My advice to anyone who has dyspraxia or gets diagnosed is that it may seem challenging to tackle the symptoms, but you can overcome them. The main example for me was learning to drive in a manual car. That was something I never believed I was coordinated enough for, but I managed to do it and I was so proud of myself.
“My diagnosis came in the 1990s, when there was very little known about the condition.
I am very fortunate to have great support within Medigold Health and from my Line Manager, who will help me to organise my tasks and give me the ability to catch up on work if I am getting overwhelmed with deadlines.”
How can organisations support employees with dyspraxia?
Not everyone with dyspraxia will experience problems in the workplace, and many people with the condition will develop their own coping strategies to enable them to work effectively. However, some will struggle more depending on the severity of their condition and how it specifically affects them.
Even though they may have more difficulty with everyday tasks that a lot of us take for granted, people with dyspraxia often have other skills and strengths that can bring real benefits for employers – they tend to be highly motivated and determined, hardworking, creative, good at problem solving and highly empathetic.
It’s important that organisations provide employees who have dyspraxia with the right support to help them harness their strengths, so that they can reach their full potential. For more on this, check out our blog How employers can support neurodiversity in the workplace or visit the Dyspraxia Foundation .
You can also find lots of helpful information about dyspraxia in adults here.
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