Monday, April 1, 2013

Clutzes of the World Unite - We Have Nothing to Lose (But Our Fine China)!

I got an email at work recently asking for clutzy volunteers to take part in a study into dyspraxia. And I went 'huh?' So yes, I'm a clutz, but I didn't know it had an official, medical name.
So I put my hand up to take part in the study and was interested as I went down the screening questions to see how many applied. Trouble parking a car and telling left from right. Yep. No good at dancing or team sports? Yep. Lose things all the time? Yep. Bad handwriting. Poor spatial awareness. Yep. Yep. Easily distracted and majorly disorganised. Yep. Yep.
And seriously, nowadays it rarely bothers me. I avoid the stuff I'm bad at and concentrate on the stuff I'm good at. So netball, ballroom dancing and zumba aren't going to happen - I can enjoy swimming, yoga and walks in the country. So I'm disorganised? I read books about creative mess and that makes me laugh. We live in the country so parking isn't an issue and thankfully computers have meant I rarely need to worry about my handwriting..
As a kid however...
As a kid it was different.
Primary school was sheer and unadulterated torture.
I had appalling handwriting, maths made no sense to me, I was always first out in team sports, games of tag and poison ball and as for recess pursuits of skipping and elastics...well let's not go there, I certainly didn't. Instead I opted out and started reading. I read through lunchtime and recess, walking too and from school and through class parties. My wonderful teacher in grade five and six let me skip the daily rounders game and the humiliation of being picked last Every. Single. Day and go straight up to the library.
I hate the thought of other kids stumbling through school, always out of time and out of step and being yelled at for it. Hey, it's not like we do it on purpose. Just the thought of my kids going to school makes me want to sweep them up and take them far, far away. Preferably to somewhere that hasn't heard of team sports. However, there's no sign my kids share my dyspraxia - quite the reverse. My Sprocket has superior co-ordination and great reflexes. I'm actually counting down the days till he's old enough for Little Athletics and soccer to soak up some of his energy.
Dyspraxia is common. About 10% of the population have a mild form and about 2% have a more serious form. It's 4 times more common in males than females and is known as a cousin to ADHD (with which it has a close association), dyslexia and the autism spectrum. Daniel Radcliff of Harry Potter fame is the most well known person with dyspraxia, but Coleridge and Chesterton are believed to have suffered from it.
Do I think something so common as being a clutz should be a medical condition? I really don't know. Did it cause me years of misery. Yep. Until I was in year 11 and 12 and I could gratefully dump P.E and maths I really did think I was stupid. Does the thought of dyspraxia causing other kids years of misery make my heart contract? Yep.
A few years back I did a diploma of primary teaching. And one of my units was Physical Education.  And, as expected, I was the worst in the whole cohort and got many pitying glances as I tried to skip-rope and balance and all the rest. But... our teacher really, really worked at getting my cohort to think about engaging kids like me in P.E. In not making it torture. In using different methods to pick a team, in doing activities that are fun for everyone, not just the normally-co-ordinated. Oddly, P.E was my best subject, as I worked so hard to come up with lessons that all kids could enjoy, a lot based on creative dance and yoga classes I'd taken and assisted with. (You know, the kind of dancing you don't need to keep in time or remember steps for!) Knowing that teacher training is changing, that teachers are being trained in anti-sadist tendencies, makes me a whole heap more optimistic for the future happiness of kids with dyspraxia.
So, clutzes of the world unite! I'm off to yoga tonight, you're welcome to come and I'll try very hard not to bump into you!

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