I can’t tie my shoes. At least not very well. If I make bunny ears--you know, that kindergarten trick where you make rabbit ears out of the laces--I can get the job done. But my laces will never be tight. They’ll always be a little floppy. I can’t jump either. No matter how hard I spring forward and up, it’s a hop.
I was a clumsy kid. If it was possible to get hit by a ball, I got hit. If it was possible to stumble, I did. I was a living billboard of scabs, band-aids, and scars. It made me a little cool with the other kids. Nothing slowed me down. Except my own two feet.
I tried my hand at every sport--T-ball, baseball, soccer--you name it, I tried it. While I wasn’t the worst player, it was a close call. It wasn’t until I was 14 that my parents finally told me I have a rare neurological coordination disorder called dyspraxia. Although I had spent the first five years of my life in back and neck braces, and physical and occupational therapy, I was too young then to remember that part of my life.
Finally learning the truth was a relief. I had always wondered why doing things that came so easily to my friends, like skateboarding, surfing, and even writing, was so difficult for me. It took me ten times longer than other kids and ten times the effort just to be average. But average never felt like enough for me.
I also discovered it’s common for people with dyspraxia to have ADHD. Learning about that piece of my puzzle was also a relief. I had always felt like a KGB operative in a room full of CIA agents--hiding, while trying to pretend to be like everyone else. Doing well in school was always important to me and I relied heavily on my strong memory and my love of reading to assimilate.
Finding out I had these learning disabilities made me decide I needed to find a way to accept these parts of myself. I needed to own it, fully accept all that I am, without regret or apology, and find ways to adapt. Doing this changed my life. It actually gave me a level of confidence I didn’t have before I knew my diagnoses.
Having ADHD means I sometimes forget things but don’t realize it. It also means I have to read instructions for homework, tests (and just about everything) twice, and then number each question in the instructions so I don’t miss anything. I’ve developed my own bag of tricks for dealing with these issues, such as using my phone for reminders, exercising daily to help me stay focused, and making sure I connect with teachers when I have questions. I’ve also learned to advocate for myself and accept direction from others. Ultimately, this has forced me to take responsibility for my learning and has made me a better student.
Accepting and adapting to having dyspraxia and ADHD has changed the way I see myself. I now know that having these disabilities doesn’t make me any less intelligent or less capable. Sure, it’s challenging at times, but meeting these challenges has also given me a different way of thinking, experiencing, and organizing the world around me. Everyone has challenges. These just happen to be mine. Meeting them head on has caused me to forgive myself for not being who others might want me to be and accept myself for who I am.
This is my first post but I write to catch the attention of others, who either have similar issues or know of them. I want to remind readers that our experiences we have shape us into who we are. Don’t let your challenges slow you down or get you down. Learn from them and grow. I wont just write about this, I will talk about everything from health and wellness, to depression and mental health, and fitness. I plan to cover a wide range of topics.