Growing up with Dyspraxia
Growing up, I always suffered from poor coordination and was often clumsy. PE was never my strongest subject at school as I could not throw or catch a ball due to poor hand eye coordination. I lost track of the number of teachers who would complain about my illegible handwriting and how I needed to improve in order for me to reach my potential in exams. As a result of this, I was also socially awkward and struggled to make friends, as I had problems relating to my peers due to my difficulties.
I was relatively lucky in that I was recognised as having problems at an early age, although I went through the majority of my time at school without ever receiving a diagnosis. I received 25 per cent extra time and the use of a computer in exams due to my handwriting difficulties, all without a diagnosis as none was needed to receive support.
Eventually, the special needs advisor told me that I would need a diagnosis in order to continue receiving support at university. Throughout all this time I was able to receive support through an unofficial diagnosis of Developmental Coordination Disorder or Dyspraxia, but at the age of 17 it was finally time to get officially diagnosed.
To receive the diagnosis, I had to visit my GP and get referred to the local occupational therapist. The occupational therapist assessed my coordination through whole body movements and through the ever existing problem this is my handwriting. Fortunately, I received the official diagnosis and so support at university was secured.
Due to my dyspraxia, I was able to apply for a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) to cover the additional costs resulting from my dyspraxia. Moreover, I was granted an additional photocopying allowance, a mentor to help with confidence and organisation (always a problem with dyspraxia!), and extra mind mapping software to help to plan essays. All while also continuing to receive extra time and use of a computer during exams.
As an adult, I am able to work around my difficulties more easily as I am no longer required to participate in sports if I do not wish to, and I rarely need to write something down legibly enough for someone else to read it. However, I have encountered difficulties in learning to drive, with it taking almost 10 months from the first lesson to passing my test, even with weekly 2 hour lessons. I found manual cars too difficult due to the coordination required to manage gears and the clutch. Fortunately, I discovered that it is certainly possible to drive with dyspraxia when using an automatic car, which is what I eventually passed in.