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Life as a dyspraxic adult

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

If you have read my blog about working as a SEND teaching assistant, you will know a little about my working background. This entry is more about me as a person – a person who is navigating life with dyspraxia. To find out more about dyspraxia itself, see ‘What is dyspraxia?’ blog.

After many years of confusion (me) and pushing for answers (my parents) I was finally given a diagnosis aged 10. Having spent my childhood up to that point wondering why I struggled to do things that my friends and my younger brother found so easy, it then helped hugely knowing that there was a reason and I wasn’t just stupid. I feel I should add in here that no one ever made me feel stupid, but it was how I saw myself, as I didn’t understand why knowing left from right, writing long pieces of work at school and learning to ride a bike were so difficult for me.

As I covered in my dyspraxia blog post, different people have difficulties with different tasks. For me, the main problems are and have always been fine motor related. Handwriting was a one of the most pressing issues I had as a child. If I wrote fast, it was impossible to read my writing and if I took my time and wrote neatly, I would invariably not finish the task. This does still affect me as an adult, but not nearly as much. I was lucky in that I got a referral to occupational therapy (OT) and was given exercises to do to help with my writing. Without this support, I think doing written exams for my GCSEs would have been nigh on impossible.

One area of difficulty that has remained with me since childhood is organisational skills. I was that person who repeatedly misplaced their books, PE kit or pencil case and the one who forgot what homework I had to do because I hadn’t written it down. As an adult, I actually hate clutter but always seem to pile things up and not know where something is - usually when I’ve put it ‘in a safe place’! Over the years I’ve found that preparation is key, however it doesn’t always work that way. Sorting out what I need for work the night before is a technique that really helps me, but I don’t always do it and then I end up flustered! I also like to have plans in place and know what is happening when; spontaneity is not my thing at all.

Probably the biggest challenge I have faced as an adult is learning to drive. When I first decided to start driving lessons at about 18 years old, nothing could have prepared me for how difficult it was. I initially had lessons in a manual car and it was soul destroying. Manual driving involves all four of your limbs doing different things at the same time and my brain just cannot comprehend that. It was incredibly frustrating and I can remember either crying or getting angry with myself in most lessons. It didn’t help that no matter how much I tried to explain the reason for my struggle, my instructor didn’t understand either. Needless to say I gave up and decided to try automatic instead. I still haven’t passed my test, but having the gear stick taken out of the equation has been an absolute game changer and has allowed me to focus on other aspects of driving that aren’t so straightforward for me. Due to the way my brain is wired, I react slower than most people, so I have to really focus on what’s going on around me while I’m driving which has taken a lot of practice – and patience from my amazing driving instructor!

Having lived with this diagnosis for over 20 years now, I’ve got used to it and have found different ways to help myself deal with things I find difficult. That’s the best advice I could give actually – find strategies and methods that work for you and yes life is still frustrating, but I’m doing it!

Written by Aimee

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