If you had a condition that wasn’t well-understood, as well as mostly ignored and leaving you struggling to find your place in a world that was confusing and odd, would you want a cure for that condition? If scientists developed such a cure, would you take it?
My dyspraxia is often misunderstood, not least of all by me, so I can appreciate how misunderstandings from others easily happen. Sometimes, people don’t appreciate why I think or act in a particular way, or why I sometimes fail to respond to situations in the accepted way. Raising the profile of dyspraxia would help no end. Medication wouldn’t help, just as removing dyspraxia from the world wouldn’t do any good; we would lose creative, flexible thinkers, and gain more additions to the status quo of thought and behaviour.
Would it be easier if I didn’t have the condition, in a society that can’t accommodate me? Sometimes.
Would I swallow that pill to make it go away? No.
For years, I struggled with the concept of “normality.” I went through the same teenage angst as every other teenager; Why don’t I fit into the cool groups? How could I fit in? How could I just be normal? It didn’t help that I didn’t know what normal was, not realising that no-one else did either.
As a teenager, I often felt like a stranger in my own skin. I was looking in at everyone else following a set of mostly unspoken rules that I never quite understood. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learnt more about those rules – mostly through making a lot of mistakes along the way – and can now blend in.
That in itself can cause problems; people see dyspraxics nearly blending in, and forget that there’s a difference in the first place because we “look normal.” People don’t understand the effort it can take to project that image. The things that are natural to everyone else – body language, expressions, emotions – often feel forced to me, and I have to make sure I’m focused to interpret what people are saying and then work out how to respond. It’s a big deal, believe me.
There are occasions when I’m tempted to wear a badge declaring my dyspraxia to the world, but my rational brain quickly takes over.
The Two Dyspraxics, which my wonderful pal Barbara Neill and I founded a few years ago, want to bring dyspraxia out of the closet. The condition needs to be normalised and accepted as a normal part of life. To a lot of dyspraxics, that’s a huge part of what we seek; to be accepted and understood. I’m an averagely intelligent, rational adult; I want to be treated with acceptance and normality, not with pills. Rather than trying to “cure” me, why don’t we look at understanding, acceptance, and appreciating our differences?
Dyspraxia is part of my genetic makeup. It’s helped shape me into the person I am, and I’m comfortable in my own skin at last. I’m determined to make neuro-typical people more aware of the condition, and I also want to encourage people with dyspraxia to feel proud of who they are.
Never, ever feel pressured to change.