When I was around the age of 8, I was diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), known as dyspraxia pretty much everywhere outside of Canada. For those who don’t know what DCD or dyspraxia is, that’s understandable. Allow me to enlighten you:
- DCD is a neurological disorder which affects such things as flexibility, muscle tone, gross motor coordination, fine motor skills, etc.
- Dyspraxics are fairly diverse in what is affected–some are almost completely incapacitated, others have minor inconveniences; some have things like speech affected by impaired facial coordination, other are fine with speech but can’t catch a basketball to save their lives.
- Dyspraxics often have hyposensory and/or hypersensory traits in the five senses.
- DCD is often comorbid with other conditions like OCD, ASD, anxiety, depression, etc.
- It’s estimated that DCD affects about 5-6% of the population
- Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with DCD than girls,with an approximate ratio of 4:1
- Dyspraxics tend to be more socially isolated by their peers and develop coping techniques that are often expressed through avoidance and/or unconscious adaptations as children and adolescents. Dyspraxics generally do find much greater success in adulthood. Part of the reason for this is the emphasis on team sports and physical play as children and adolescents which becomes less of a social bonding mechanism as adults.
- Dyspraxics can struggle well into adulthood with things like body image, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc.
I was fortunate to be diagnosed as young as I was, and did a lot of work with an Occupational Therapist. While I didn’t quite appreciate such exercises then, they have stayed with me and I have eventually got back into many of them. Similarly, I had an excellent phys ed. teacher during this crucial period who instilled a healthy foundation for running long distances and for gymnastics as injury reduction/prevention.
DCD presented me with many challenges, and was certainly part of why it took me so long to be able to find joy in movement and learn to love my body. Yet in living with DCD, I also learned how much I could do, and how surprised I could make people by overcoming my challenges and demonstrating abilities beyond what they expected from an otherwise uncoordinated, unassuming youth.
In my early 20s, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and it is through this framework that my previous diagnoses of Developmental Coordination Disorder, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, significant anxiety and depression, are now understood. (Note: as a kid I did testing for Asperger’s but DCD and anxiety were deemed to be sufficient explanations—yay for updates to the DSM criteria!) Yet so many things remain the same. Both DCD and ASD come down to being wired differently. Both present challenges for a society that prizes productivity so highly. And yet both also provide myriad learning opportunities for the power of vulnerability, and encourage me to advocate for a society far more in line with the Christian vision: where vulnerability, authenticity and the ability to love those who are different from us is most prized not productivity, hierarchy, and the need to be uniform in beliefs and practices. My hope is that many more people will contribute to this much needed cultural and societal reframe.
Notable Figures Who Are Also Dyspraxic
Fictional Characters Who Are Openly Dyspraxic
Ryan Sinclair (from Doctor Who)