Where’s My Pen?


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A Guide to Supporting People With Dyspraxia
By Sarah Johns

ISBN: 978-1-84747-813-9
Published: 2009
Pages: 80
Key Themes: dyspraxia, autism, aspergers syndrome



Where’s my pen? A Guide to supporting people with dyspraxia, aims to provide a down to earth look at dyspraxia and includes personal experiences to help encourage people to fulfil their goals in life. There are guides to help people of any age find life a bit easier. Hopefully this book will help answer any questions anyone may have about the condition. The aim of writing the book is to inspire people to see life in a positive way and not let dyspraxia or any learning difficulty stop them from achieving anything.

About the Author

Sarah is 30 years old, lives in Sheffield and currently works for a charity called Autism Plus, supporting adults with learning difficulties including Asperger Syndrome, autism and dyspraxia. She has a keen interest in learning difficulties, especially dyspraxia and includes her personal experiences of depression and dyspraxia in the hope it will help others live life in a positive way. She is trained as a physiotherapist and also has a sports degree.

After a challenging time, she has gained strength from achieving things she never thought she would do, like writing this book. She hopes people can do the same.

Book Extract

This chapter aims to demonstrate how this book came about and includes a brief overview of certain aspects of my life. I am thirty years old and do not have an official diagnosis of dyspraxia yet but am in the process of finding out how to get an assessment. Already, it has been a challenge as the condition can often be detected more so during childhood than adulthood. However, I think the reason it was not detected when I was a child was because there was not as much awareness about the condition as there is today. I am hoping the awareness will continue to increase over the next few years and people will understand more and more about LDs.

In my quest for an answer to explain why I found certain aspects of my life a challenge, I came across dyspraxia. I know a lot of people can become paranoid and think they have various ailments and conditions, but after researching a lot into this condition, I realised a lot of my experiences from past and present pointed towards this LD.

The time in my life when I feel dyspraxia affected my health the most, was during my study at university and the first few years of work. I went straight from school to study for a sports degree in Cardiff and then a few years later, I went onto study for a physiotherapy degree. When I began working as a physiotherapist it was then that the possible dyspraxic symptoms came more apparent. I was working in a very busy environment and had to think on my feet on several occasions. This is hard for anyone when under pressure, but I felt like my brain was struggling to process all the information I needed and my coping mechanisms were not helping me. To show you an example, if I had to treat patients on a hospital ward, I knew what had to be done and could probably tell people the sensible plan, but when it came to putting it into practice, it was hard to sequence everything. Too much information was feeding into my mind at once and so it felt like lots of scrambled information was circulating around in my head which wasn’t helpful to me or anyone. As you could imagine, this made me feel extremely stressed and as a result I went into a severe depression, something which is explored further in this book. This wasn’t to say that I was dangerous in my practice as I was aware of my difficulties, but it meant I was slower with my work. The times when I was worrying were the times I should have been focussing on aspects of my work, so this affected my thought processes. Eventually, I had become so stressed with everything, I couldn’t cope anymore and it’s amazing how the body has a funny way of saying enough is enough. I had to take time out of physiotherapy and recover from the depression and whilst I was off work, I came across an exercise programme which focussed on part of the brain called the cerebellum. The aim was to help relieve symptoms of LDs. Although this did not cure me, it genuinely did help me a lot and I am about to take my driving test, something I never thought I would actually feel comfortable with. I ended up working for the company and really enjoyed working within this field of work and had a lot of empathy for children and adults with a LD. Unfortunately the company went into financial difficulties and I was made redundant. I wanted to stay within the same line of work so at the time of writing this book, I have a job working for a charity, which supports adults with Aspergers/autism, another very interesting condition. Within the charity, there are also a few people we support who have Aspergers and dyspraxia, so this has been really interesting for me. Because of my experiences, I have a general knowledge and genuine interest about LDs. As a result, I have worked with children and adults with varying talents and abilities. I have tried to return to physiotherapy but unfortunately it has become harder to gain employment within this field at present. My ideal job would be to combine all my skills and experience to treat a person with a LD in a holistic way.

One of my aims in writing this book is to educate people so dyspraxia can continue to be detected earlier in life. If it had been picked up earlier with me, perhaps I would not have experienced the depression in later life. At the same time, I am not blaming anyone or anything for my situation as I do think if these experiences had not happened, I would not have written this book. However, I would like to help people avoid going through the depression and stress that I had to experience for nearly two years.

There are positive aspects of going through a tough patch in life, even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time. It really does make you stronger as a person and appreciate things that can often be taken for granted. I do not worry about silly things now and what people think of me. I have had support from my difficulties beyond belief in the form of my close friends and family but have also had negative attitudes in other situations including past employment. A word of advice to anyone involved with a LD is to stay true to yourself as there will always be people who do not understand LDs and will say the classic line of “you are just using it as an excuse”. I hope you take something from this book, even if it means you get an idea of how to support someone with dyspraxia or it makes you appreciate what skills and positive attributes you have to offer if you suffer from a LD.

Sit back, relax, eat that chocolate bar or apple (balanced diet of course!) and enjoy the book. I have not made this book too long as I always found it hard to sustain a long book and was put off by it before I even began reading. I also hope you find the print outs helpful if it is an e-book or the pull out pages if you are reading the paperback. I have tried to compile advice and support that you can realistically try, so best of luck-never give up!


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