Lucy’s Story

 

How I Came to Own My Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia has always presented itself as a bit of an enigma with many grey areas existing as to the ‘who’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the condition. As many as 1 in every 10 children in the USA have been reported as displaying symptoms of dyspraxia and while it can run in families, no ‘dyspraxia gene’ has been identified to date. I have lived with dyspraxia my entire life, or for as long as I can remember at least. I came into the world more than a month early, weighing a little over 4 and a half pounds. I didn’t start walking until I was 18 months old but, being the eldest of 3 children my mother didn’t have anyone to compare me to.

Children develop at different rates and it was believed that I would soon catch up with my friends. When I was 5 years old and attending kindergarten my teacher noticed that I had severe difficulty coloring in and that I wasn’t as agile as other children of my age. She suggested that my parents take me to a pediatrician for a check-up which is where I was first diagnosed with dyspraxia.

I was bullied, but so too was everyone else

I believe that adolescence is a difficult time for everyone, even under normal circumstances. My teenage years were probably the hardest I have had to endure. I always felt inadequate amongst my peers and was often bullied because I was slower and more unsteady than everyone else. Everyone seemed to have been bullied at some time or another though, so I didn’t pay too much attention to it. I wasn’t as chatty as the other girls in my class and could barely get through a basic P.E. class. As a result, I soon found myself sitting alone at lunch. I chose to associate with children much younger than myself, children who were more ‘on my level’ and managed to sustain a few haphazard friendships.

Just before my 17th birthday, I received my first batch of anti-depressants as I had become increasingly anxious and withdrawn and also developed symptoms of mild schizophrenia. Dyspraxia is known to affect one’s mental health adversely and I am grateful to have had a support system in place that ensured I received the relevant medical treatment as soon as possible.

Self-empowerment changed my life

After school, I didn’t have many options in terms of studies or employment. I landed a part-time office job at a local school-supplies store but never felt any sense of accomplishment. I knew that there was no cure for my dyspraxia but I refused to live my life as a victim because of it. I spent countless hours in the local library and on the internet researching my condition, learning what I could to understand it, and myself, better. I learned that by making use of calendars, diaries, and sticky notes to plan my daily life I will remain more focused. I learned that I needed to complete one task before taking on another. I learned that my condition did not define who I was or who I was destined to become.

Helping others

The more I began to understand the many facets of dyspraxia, the more it became obvious to me that my greater purpose in life was to help others like myself. A week after my 33rd birthday I enrolled in a counseling course which focussed on assisting individuals living with dyspraxia. It took every last ounce of inner strength I had to persevere with my studies and I often found myself crying out of sheer frustration. The day I received my certificate was one of the proudest moments in my life. I have finally achieved something I have set out to do and I did it on my own. I have been working from an office in my hometown of Pittsburgh for nearly 4 years, conducting counseling sessions on a daily basis. My youngest patient is 6 years old, the eldest almost 70 and I have embarked on a wonderful and healing journey with each and every one of them.

My dyspraxia has not gone away, I have simply adapted to it. I have found ways to make my life easier and strive to help others do the same. There are no shortcuts in life when it comes to addressing disorders such as mine and all we can do is to take what we have and make the best of it. We are given one life and at the end of it, we should be able to look back and say ‘I did well’ regardless of the obstacles the universe chose to put in our way.