a developmental disorder of the brain causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination. It has no cure.
Dyspraxia, a funny little word, but one I have recently learned and come to love. After spending six decades trying to hide the fact that my body won’t cooperate to do certain things that others take for granted, I have been freed from embarrassment and, more importantly, freed from the pressure to keep trying.
Here is a list of the sports I tried, but failed, to learn at school:
- volley ball
Through primary and high schools I stayed in the beginners’ ‘learn to swim’ class, despite a love of the water, from Year 1 to Year 7, when the teachers gave up trying. I have never succeeded in riding a bike, through childhood and teenage years, when I dearly wanted to do so to fit in, and even despite recent patient attempts to teach me.
Between leaving school and up to recent years I have paid for lessons in the following:
- Violin, after buying one
- Guitar, after buying one
- Electric organ, after buying one
- Ballroom dancing
- Touch typing, after buying a typewriter
- Golf, after buying clubs
- Line dancing
The most humiliating of these was typing, when I was in my early thirties, where I stayed in the beginners’ class for a year before the teacher (at night classes at Arthur Philip High School in Parramatta, you know who you are!) said to me through gritted teeth “You are the only person in my teaching career whom I can’t teach to type, please don’t come back next year”. Yes, I am typing this, but only if I can use one finger on each hand and take as much time as I please.
Driving I finally managed, (yeeks, doing different things with my hands and feet!) but it was years before I felt reasonably safe on the road. I fudged it by driving everywhere at half the speed limit. The testing officer said “I am going to pass you because you haven’t done anything I can fail you on, driving too slow isn’t on my list, but I hope I never get behind you on Parramatta Road”. Bless him.
Problems arise if I have to do two different things with my hands, like plucking strings with one hand and holding down chords with the other. Playing a keyboard, needless to say, is impossible.
But after recently hearing about adult dyspraxia and contacting The Dyspraxia Foundation in England, I was filled with excitement to confirm, despite opinions to the contrary, that I am not lazy, nor stupid, that I really did try, and I no longer need to beat myself up about these life-long failures. I can now just love doing what I am good at and know that I need never again try to make my body do what it simply can’t.
Dyspraxia, I love you.