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The Good, the Bad and the Clumsy

Tripping over, knocking things over, dropping items, walking into objects and generally being clumsy are a familiar part of my daily routine. Most mornings during my walk to work I trip over and stumble on an uneven section of pavement. Panicking about how to react to this embarrassing situation in public, I usually just laugh to myself. My record so far is four trips or stumbles on just one journey.

For as long as I can remember I have always been a clumsy one. Spatial awareness, the ability to understand our body position and ‘where we are’ in relation to others or objects, has never been one of my strong points. I struggle to estimate the distance between myself and others, which can cause me to bump into people, stumble or trip when trying to avoid collisions in a crowd or busy street. When I’m in a busy public place I’m usually always in someone’s way. Whether it be in a supermarket aisle, a long queue or when I’m merely going for a stroll. Linked to spatial awareness, proprioception is one’s ability to understand and show awareness of where are limbs and body parts are in relation to other objects and barriers. This natural human ability establishes itself during infancy and childhood during a rapid developmental milestone. However, much like spatial awareness, individuals can have deficits and delays in the development of proprioception.

In addition to ‘questionable’ spatial awareness, I can have poor balance which acts as catalyst and exacerbates this clumsiness. On particularly bad days, it feels like I’m not the one in control of my motor movements. It’s almost like the body has gone in auto-pilot mode, completely bypassing the instructions given by the brain. I can experience delays in reaction time, processing speed, misjudge of objects and on occasions confuse left and right. I still baffles me to this day how I passed my driving test last year.

Subsequently, I decided to plan and write this post for two key reasons. Firstly, struggling with spatial awareness, balance and being clumsiness is something that a lot people can identify with and relate to. Secondly, this post idea gave me the opportunity to research any possible links and/or overlaps between two common, but often misunderstood neurodiversities: dyslexia and dyspraxia. During my researching phase I found a really awesome article that not only outlined the links between dyslexia and dyspraxia, but also discussed the misconnections that surround the two. The author, Dr Sylvia Moody, emphasised how difficulty purely with reading is reductionist and misleading when considering dyslexia. Dr Moody stresses that the more prominent deficits in dyslexic adults involve weaknesses in auditory memory, reading speed and visual processing. In terms of dyspraxia, it is outlined that deficits in motor-coordination is not the only and sole characteristic in dypraxics. Vitally, difficulty with sequencing, structuring information, organisation and time keeping are other key aspects that should not be ignored. For me on a personal note, I found it very pleasing, reassuring and encouraging to read that an academic and professional in their field was emphasising the misunderstanding that surrounding dyslexia and dyspraxia. Crucially this supports and backs up what I myself have been stressing throughout my blogs; that dyslexia is a more holistic neurodiversity that does not only influence reading abilities.

Interestingly the author unveils the potential overlaps between dyslexia and dyspraxia. According to research statistics approximately half of dyslexics show ‘dyspraxic tendencies’. Thus, they may be some degree of comorbidity and interrelatedness between the two’s symptomologies. ‘Common denominators’ can include deficits in working and/or auditory memory, a slower processing speed and difficulty in structuring information. Delving into the psychological aspects, mirroring those associated with dyslexia, dyspraxics too my experience anxiety, low self-esteem and embarrassment within their daily lives. Nonetheless, it is crucial to note that just because a person is clumsy it does not necessarily mean that they have dyspraxia. They may well just be darn clumsy.

I find these links and interconnections amongst and within neurodiversities highly interesting. This is because they can unveil and provide reasons as to why a person acts and thinks the way they do. Crucially it helps us to understand more about us as humans by exploring the psychological side of life. Moreover, this understanding and appreciation of this neurodiverse world can help to reduce stigmatisation whilst simultaneously promoting acceptance and unity. It is vital to remember that everyone is different. Even though individuals may share a diagnosis, they can display different traits and reactions when faced with different tasks and situations. Overall being a ‘clumsy clot’, generally makes my life more varied, amusing (as long I don’t do some real damage to anything) and certainly does provide me with some jolly good laughs.

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