Maybe it is my infamous quirky sense of humor or the fact that I found out I have dyspraxia in my 30s, which may have shattered my dream of being a professional tennis player but helped me embrace how my body works differently and at ease with other people’s neurodivergence.
I don’t believe neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD are errors of nature or result from bad parenting, but represent the beauty of natural variations in the human genome that should be celebrated and not crushed or belittled.
To many that know me, I am not keen on diagnosis, as we are so much more than a label, a disorder, but knowing the condition, our strengths and differences help us piece the puzzle together regarding the feeling of “what’s wrong with me”, hence, better able to communicate with others what our need is and help us prepare ourselves to live in a neurotypical world that pathologizing any form of neurodivergence and too often can be unkind under the guise of tough love.
Parenting is arguably one of the most challenging jobs in the world that doesn’t come with instructions, and when your child is less than textbook perfect or “differently wired" you can feel very alone and helpless.
When my son was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 6, we both considered that to be one of the best things for him. Understanding his experience has helped him become confident enough to tell others that he was not dumb but just needed a bit more time when it came to reading and writing. By the time he was nine, he had learnt to compensate and was reading at a level of a 15-year-old, and fast-forward another seven years, he can now speed read.
When a child discovers the joy in learning new things, it motivates him or her to learn strategies to compensate for their learning difficulties. I often work with learning specialists to help children with dyslexia develop positive values for learning (growth mindset) and identify their personal interests.
It might not be the most direct route, but I do believe “slow is fast” and recommend that you take the time to understand the uniqueness of your child and help him or her feel accepted and cared for so you can set authentic and compassionate learning goals together.
Giftedness - Twice exceptional
Gifted children demonstrate greater maturity cognitively, but many struggle to understand the social-emotional difficulties they face. This paradox of asynchronous development is often one of the hallmark features of giftedness. Other aspects include heightened awareness, anxiety, perfectionism, stress, issues with peer relationships, and concerns with one’s identity.
People talk about gifted children commonly remark how lucky their parents are, but parents with a gifted child often feel differently. The child’s intense emotions, along with the conflicting strategies advised by books that fail to address the uniqueness of the child make it hard for parents to adjust to their unique circumstance.
When working with parents of gifted children, my duty is to help you adjust to your child’s uneven developmental patterns so you can cope with the challenges of parenting while also supporting your child to manage his or her intense emotions.
Dyspraxia is a form of developmental coordination disorder, a condition affecting physical coordination usually in both gross and fine motor coordination. Children affected by dyspraxia perform less well compared to children of a similar age in physical tasks and often appear to move clumsily. The condition usually runs in families and affects more boys than girls. Dyspraxia often continues as a lifelong condition and often affects self-esteem in individuals, especially boys.
Dyspraxia is less easily recognized compared to dyslexia, and receives less attention. However, early recognition and intervention can help a child to achieve their full potential.
Dyspraxia can have a huge impact on a child’s social and emotional well-being, and may result in difficulty in being accepted by their peers, or even bullying. Apart from finding it hard to fit in, or struggling with teamwork, children may have to endure the stress of dealing with coordination problems, which can be particularly difficult when they become teenagers.
Sometimes children with dyspraxia experience difficulties with memory, perception and processing, and consequently may not achieve their academic potential.
Detecting and treating dyspraxia in children at an early age with the appropriate therapy can mitigate many of the problems associated with this disorder.