If you had a condition that wasn’t well-understood, as well as mostly ignored and leaving you struggling to understand your place in a world that was confusing and odd, would you take a cure if it was offered?
My dyspraxia is often misunderstood, not least of all by me, so I can appreciate how misunderstandings between me and others can easily happen. Sometimes, people don’t “get” why I think or act in a particular way, or why I sometimes fail to give the “normal” response to a situation.
A cure would not help. It would rid the world of a degree of neuro-diversity – of a slightly different way of thinking that can be refreshing when it’s not confusing. But it’s confusing because it’s not understood. Raising the profile of dyspraxia would help this no end. Medicating people into compliance or dullness would rid the world of a rainbow of thought, and that would be so sad; we would end up getting more additions to the status quo.
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.
Should society adapt to a multiplicity of thought? Yes.
For years, I struggled with the concept of “normality.” I struggled through the usual teenage angst; Why don’t I fit into the cool groups? How can I fit in? How can I be normal? It didn’t help that I wasn’t sure what normal was, not realising that no-one else did either.
As a teenager, I felt like a stranger looking out on a confusing world. Everyone else seemed to be following a set of mostly unspoken rules that, somehow, they had picked up. Had I missed a class one day where these things were revealed to us? If only I’d not had a migraine that day. I picked the rules up through a lot of trial and error and, for the most part, can blend in with the crowd. I just don’t often want to.
Blending in, of course, causes its own problems. By not being ourselves, dyspraxics then don’t show their true nature, and neuro-typicals – most people – 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 emerge naturally from everyone else – body language, expressions, emotions – take extra thought to me; I have to really focus in order to interpret what people are saying, and then really think how I’m going to respond in as “regular” way as possible. It takes a lot of effort, believe me. There are occasions when I’m even 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. Neuro-diversity needs to be accepted as a normal part of life. I want to be accepted as no more or less different than the next person. I’m an averagely intelligent, rational human being; I want to be treated as such, not told I need to be “cured” because I am different and not understood. Rather than trying to “cure” me, why don’t you try and understand me instead?
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.