They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In mine and my daughter’s case it is incredibly true. Despite spending most of my youth doing ballet to a very high level and being en pointe at nine, I am incredibly clumsy. Clumsy to such an extent that I can fall over from just standing up. I regularly spill things, drop things and fall. I often have bruises all over my body and I have no idea how they got there; but I’m pretty sure it’s from banging into things or from crashing down on something. Much as I love my garden, my husband has now banned me from going into the garden when no one else is at home. The last time I was alone, I skidded on the grass and banged my head and back hard on the ground. It’s not such a good idea if you have a cage and rods in your back. Plus, there was the time I decided to tackle a large bush and the next day at work someone noticed that I had a chunk missing out of my elbow. I had to have stitches to seal it back up. I’ve also spent several weeks thinking I had a verruca, only to find that it was a large chunk of glass that had somehow ended up in the base of my foot.
My daughter is the same. Her white blouses from school must be bleached and boiled to remove all the stains that accumulate on them from spilt lunches; spaghetti bolognaise is a nightmare! She equally has bruises and no recollection of their origins. Like me, she can fall over when standing up and is particularly adept at falling down the stairs when walking upwards.
The other unique skill that my daughter and I share is an ability, as my Dad used to put it, “To bogger things up!” It is no accident of fate that my Dad is an electrician, as over the years he has had to fix most things within a week of myself and Sofia using them. I get through earphones like most people use toilet roll. I think Sofia got through four tablets in a year once. My straighteners go to my Dad regularly for him to put insulation tape around the cable and so that he can replace the fuses, which just weirdly blow up. I had a personal hotline to Matsui in the eighties because I kept breaking my music players and having to have them sent back to be replaced.
We have never been assessed by a specialist, but I strongly suspect that both my daughter and I are dyspraxic. In fact, many people have told me that I must be, usually when they’ve just witnessed me collapsing over a chair onto the floor, stubbing my toe on a desk or walking into a door (yes, there are people who really do that!).
Dyspraxia is, according to the NHS, a developmental co-ordination disorder. Problems with movement and co-ordination are the main symptoms of dyspraxia. A child with dyspraxia may appear awkward and clumsy as they may bump into objects, drop things and fall over a lot. Children with dyspraxia may have poor co-ordination and some additional problems, yet other aspects of development – for example, thinking and talking – are usually unaffected.
The Dyspraxia Trust was founded in 1987 by two mothers who met at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children when they had been told that their children had Dyspraxia. They were shocked to learn that no facilities existed to help or inform parents and children with the condition. Today the Foundation, answers several thousand enquiries and distributes more than twenty thousand leaflets about the condition, annually. As with any condition there are a wide range of symptoms and difficulties and there is a spectrum of severity.
Adults who have dyspraxia often find the routine tasks of daily life such as driving, household chores, cooking and grooming difficult. They can also find coping at work is hard. Many of these characteristics are not unique to people with dyspraxia and not even the most severe case will have all the characteristics associated with the condition. However, adults with dyspraxia will tend to have more than their fair share of co-ordination and perceptual difficulties. The Dyspraxia Foundation also represents adults, some of whom have only been diagnosed as having dyspraxia recently and are coming to terms with this knowledge. They have also published Living with Dyspraxia, a practical guide to living with and coping with dyspraxia as an adult.
I know that my article might appear somewhat flippant concerning what is really a serious issue for many people. In fact. it can cause immense anxiety in many sufferers and their life. However, I have chosen to use this tone to make more people aware of a condition that gets very little publicity. I hope that you have found this article useful. I need to end my blog post here for the day, as I must mop up the mug of tea that I just spilt all over my study floor.