Since being diagnosed with dyspraxia, I have noticed that although in some ways it’s a giant pain, there are some traits of dyspraxia, and some coping mechanisms it caused me to create, which have translated to real life skills.
1. Directness can be useful. As I am dyspraxic, I can at times say things very directly. Whilst there are situations where this is less good, when writing emails at work it means that I am able to get a message across very clearly, without instinctively worrying about it coming across as too blunt. As it turns out, people generally don’t worry about how the emails they receive sound, but rather whether they understand what is being said or not.
2. Organisation. My organisation to an observer looks hit and miss, however I am capable of being very organised when I put my mind to it. Because I am liable to forget things and lose track of time, I generally either do things as soon as I know I need to, or add them to an on going to do list, usually writing them by hand, having discovered that this helps me remember better. It means that at work I don’t forget to do things or make some of the mistakes co-workers do, because due to struggling with it more than they do, I have developed more robust coping mechanisms. At work, this makes me come across as very organised.
3. Planning essays. Less relevant to me now that I’ve left uni, but my techniques for essay planning improved more and more the more challenging the essays became. For each essay, I would list what each paragraph would be about and any source material I would use for it. I would then write each paragraph in a different colour, so as to easily distinguish them and remember what to focus on. Sometimes I would use PowerPoint to easily write paragraphs on different pages whilst still being able to quickly switch between them – this helped me to focus, especially when editing. I would also read sections into a microphone, then listen back to check for errors and flow, and the process of reading aloud helped with this as well. The tutor who gave me extra help due to my dyspraxia even asked to share a copy of an essay draft with another student, to demonstrate some of the methods I used.
4. Teaching. I have done small amounts of teaching and working with children, which is at times a similar premise. Due to having struggled myself with learning certain things, I understand when people don’t understand the way something is explained, and have learned to adapt the way I explain things so that they can be understood by different people. It also means I am very patient when people don’t understand things, because I know how it feels.
5. Forgiving myself. Before I knew I had dyspraxia, some of the things I struggled with were a constant frustration. They made me feel useless, and my family would mock me constantly for clumsiness and struggling to do basic things quickly enough. When I was diagnosed, things got better. Although I still get frustrated and angry about the things I find difficult, I am much more able to let it go and move on when I make a mistake, rather than remember and resent it constantly for days. I now at least understand a bit more, and the fact that my family do too really helps.
All in all, despite being a nuisance, dyspraxia can have its benefits.