Hi, I’m Anthony Bozzola and I have Dyspraxia. It makes my handwriting look strange along with the way that I hold the pen and causes me to suck at sports and do everyday things that require hand-eye co-ordination in a way that can only be described as “weird”. It also meant that I grew up with a bit of a stutter, had the organisation and fore planning skills of a male Black Widow on mating day and would sweat over numbers more than a fifteen year old boy in a strip joint. I was lucky enough to get diagnosed when I was five years old so that I at least had some basic understanding of why I used to insist on tucking my laces into my shoes rather than attempting to tie them and not that I was ever destined to be one of the popular kids, my undeniably strange demeanour and poor social skills ensured that, but at least I now kind of knew why.
Awareness of Dyspraxia only started relatively recently and some people still think it’s a hybrid of Dyslexia. Well it isn’t! Dyspraxia and Dyslexia are like Thailand for backpackers; “Same, Same but DIFFERENT!” People who are aware of this disorder, yes it is a disorder, usually responded with a “no shit!” type of response when I announced to them that I have it and those that were not usually responded with something along the lines of “Oh, I just thought you were really awkward/uncoordinated/bad at maths/awful at sports”. At which point I usually responded with something along the lines of “At what point in your ignorant mind did that sound like an appropriate response that wasn’t going to make me want to pummel you into a paste before remembering that I can’t do that because as you kindly pointed out; I’m really f*cking uncoordinated!?”…I had some serious anger issues back then as well, by the way.
Unlike the Flu, Tonsillitis, The Bubonic Plague or Jury Duty once you have Dyspraxia you’re stuck with it and you can’t make it go away. As a result I still write weird, struggle to concentrate in the office when other people are talking; which is all the time and I’m willing to bet that if somebody secretly filmed me doing one of those Insanity Workouts in the flat it would bag them at least a million hits on YouTube. However, I did learn coping strategies, I now probably talk too much rather than too little and the fact that I’ve actually managed to get laid along the way and that the only XX chromosome I’ve ever been romantically interested in didn’t give too shades of sh*t about my condition when I told her about it was pretty neat. It was the leaving the toilet seat up thing that doomed us to failure. I passed my GCSE’s, despite being told I wouldn’t even sit them, have a degree, a full-time job, am off to SE Asia in November and I can finally tie those blasted shoe laces all by myself.
Which leads me to the point of this piece; am I ‘proud’ of having Dyspraxia? The reason I’m writing about this is because I’ve witnessed a few of those smug memes, yes those bloody memes again, that proclaim that I should be proud of my Dyspraxia and not want to change it even if I ever get the chance to. To this my response is a resounding ‘yes’ but not for the reasons you may think. Ha! And you thought I was going to disagree with the stupid memes, didn’t you? Alas, I am not so much proud of having Dyspraxia per-sae but more of how I have learnt to survive with it and anyone else in the same boat should be to. By the way if the driver of this boat is Dyspraxic I pray for us all.
I’m proud of my grades and that I was hands down the best English student in my entire school by the time it was time to leave and that’s not me being big headed, okay it kind of is, but I still believe it’s true. I’m proud that my condition never stopped me from getting employed even if it did get me fired but that’s just life. I’m proud that I now have passable social skills and am proud of my friends and family for accepting me despite the fact that I’ve made it difficult at times. Yet, am I proud that I have Dyspraxia? Absolutely not and if I could step inside a machine and have it blasted clean out of me or go back in time and not have it from the start I would. The only reason I reveal it openly to people is because it’s painfully obvious as soon as they see me doing anything anymore taxing than blinking with both eyes that something isn’t quite right.
I’m proud of my accomplishments whilst having Dyspraxia but not the Dyspraxia itself.
The point that I’m trying to make is that I find some of these fore-mentioned sentiments on ‘Dyspraxic Pride’ so to speak a little narrow-minded. Having Dyspraxia isn’t a cuddly inconvenience or something that makes you a bit quirky. It’s a condition that can make growing up difficult especially in an environment that may be ignorant to all the facts and if it’s possible people should strive for a cure or at least to understand it better as just like when dealing with people who speak a different language to you; getting up in a Dyspraxic persons personal space, we’re kind of big on that by the way, and screaming instructions at them more slowly or loudly won’t make them understand any better, especially if you don’t smell great. It feels to me like the people behind these messages don’t take the real ‘struggle’, if you will, into account when formulating them and labelling Dyspraxia in such a way bothers me because it waters down its implications and trivialises the condition. Rather than the condition itself people with Dyspraxia should feel proud about what they’ve accomplished in spite of it as this is what defines us.
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.