Dyspraxia, Florence Welch and me

dyspraxia florence welch

Dyspraxia is a learning disability that affects Florence Welch and Daniel Radcliffe among countless others. Including me, Melanie. But I plan to research dyspraxia until solutions can be found…

Florence Welch and Daniel Radcliffe. Both famous, both super talented and both dyspraxic, like me. Okay… so not exactly like me, given that I’m neither rich nor famous. You get what I mean.

Dyspraxia is technically classed as a learning disability that affects movements and co-ordination as a result of the brain playing up. I won’t list all the symptoms and such because this isn’t WebMD. In brief, it alters, amongst other things, your co-ordination, spatial awareness, working memory and in turn, your confidence.

I wasn’t ‘diagnosed’ until I was 21 and spent most of my school days feeling like an outcast. My body would not play ball, pardon the pun. The school-age dyspraxic’s worst nightmare? P.E. When I was in secondary school I would beg my mum, each and every week, for a note to get out of P.E. It didn’t help that I went to a school with specialist ‘sports college’ status, meaning they got ludicrous amounts of funding for their P.E department. It was beyond awful. I couldn’t run, catch a ball, throw a ball and I just had no understanding of team sports whatsoever. My mum of course, being the responsible parent she is, made me endure it P.E. on the grounds that it would ‘do me the world of good’ to participate in something I wasn’t great at, given that I was a straight A student to all other intents and purposes. Mum, I love you. I really do. But I lost confidence and even now, as an adult, I have no time or love for sport.

These experiences haunted me, until I was finally ‘diagnosed’ when studying at University. Finally, I wasn’t just a clumsy kid with no talent for sport or team work; there was a reason behind it all. My brain was just wired a little differently to everyone else’s. This isn’t great in terms of co-ordination and motor skills, but has given me a heads-up in other areas such as savant skills and an awesome spelling ability. I was still massively under-confident though. I felt short changed and unsure if I could achieve whatever it was that I was meant to achieve in life. I felt sure I should be doing something amazing, making a difference or, at the very least, something worthwhile.

It wasn’t long after this that I discovered Florence Welch and Daniel Radcliffe were dyspraxics on the down-low. I was amazed! I bet Florence doesn’t sit there worrying that she might fall off the stage whilst performing. She certainly doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, period. She wears what she wants, and writes weird, wonderful, and hauntingly beautiful lyrics. Basically, she’s telling the world every single day that she won’t let the dyspraxic label get the better of her. The same with Daniel Radcliffe. He auditioned for a role in a major movie, learned a million lines and acted his socks off for the best part of a decade in the Harry Potter franchise. He didn’t worry about doing all those stunts, working with the other actors or remembering where he was meant to be on set. He just got on with it.

That’s when it dawned on me. I was the one standing in my own way. I was letting this label get the better of me by using it as an excuse for things I thought I couldn’t do, including writing this article. So I ripped the label off, a la Florence, and decided what I was going to do with my life. I’m not going to be a singer, on account of being tone deaf. Neither am I going to be an actor given that, well, I’m not interested in pretending to be someone else. I’m going to be an Academic. I’ve signed myself up for grad school, going all the way to Ph.D. level. There isn’t nearly enough research into Dyspraxia in my opinion and without that research there can’t be solutions. So wish me luck, folks! Here’s to me hopefully making things a little easier for every dyspraxic kid out there who has ever begged their mum for a note to get out of P.E.

Dyspraxia Links

Dyspraxia Young Adults Forum

Dyspraxia Foundation (UK)

Dyspraxia Adults Forum