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Disability -Curly Shoe Laces

 

One problem I have encountered through out my life is tying shoelaces. Although I am now able to tie them up, they don’t stay tied up for very long. It is both frustrating and embarrassing when  I constantly have to stop to re-tie them.We are already people who tend to trip easily. We don’t need  untied laces increasing the risk. I deliberately bought shoes without laces for work for this reason. Then I discovered curly shoe  laces.

Curly laces don’t need to be  tied up. The ends curl like a pigs tail preventing you from tripping on them. To tighten your shoes, just pull on the 2 ends. I read about curly laces a couple of years ago but I have never been able to find them in the shops. However I did find them on e-bay.

They are very reasonably priced and come in a number of different colours. In our house we have them in black , white green ,red, pink, purple yellow and orange. I love them honestly I think who ever invented them deserves a medal. At first my son complained they were embarrassing because they look a little different. Once he tried them, he changed his mind. It is far more embarrassing to always have your laces trailing on the ground . No more wet shoelaces from dragging on the ground in winter.

I no longer have to look for Velcro or slip on shoes for him. It also means I don’t have to stop constantly to tie up my shoe laces that have come undone. Velcro wasn’t an option for me. They just don’t seem to make Velcro shoes for women. I have small feet so even the smallest men’s shoes were to big. The only problem is I am getting quite a collection of brand new shoe laces. As soon as we get new shoes we take the laces out and put the curly laces in. If anyone knows any good uses for shoe laces please let me know.

They are great for anyone who has difficulty tying shoe laces. They are great for anyone with disabilities affecting their fine motor skills. They are also good for people with arthritis or Parkinson disease or people who have difficulty bending.

I highly recommend them.

 

visiting my niece

My little ponies
ponies

On Thursday I went with my Mum and youngest son to see my niece and great niece. We don’t see them very often as they live an hour away on the train. Life is so busy we just don’t get the time as often as we would like.

We had coffee at their local shopping centre. I had a lovely baked potato with coleslaw cheese and sour cream.My son had chicken and chips. My mum loves the buy and sell pages on Facebook. She bought some really pretty my little ponies for my great Niece.They were so pretty a lady shopping commented on them.

My Mum bought the 2 children some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It looked really yummy so I decided to have some also. We don’t have a Ben and Jerry’s near us , so it was a bit of a novelty. All the flavours looked delicious, but I couldn’t go past chocolate.

The 2 children ate their ice cream without any mess. They didn’t spill it on their clothes or the table. I was another matter. I looked down and I had somehow managed to get ice cream in the yellow ponies hair.I tried to wipe it off but that made it worse. Any other flavour wouldn’t have shown so much but  the chocolate could be easily seen. It is so embarrassing when I do things like this.

My niece said that her daughter would take them in the bath with her so it would wash off. Luckily my great niece didn’t seem too concerned about her pony having ice cream in its hair.

My little pony with icecream in its hair
Pony after icecream

Dyspraxia – My First Homeschooling Visit.

 

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My youngest child is home schooled for various reasons.. On Wednesday the moderator came to visit to see how we were doing. It was our first visit so I didn’t know what to expect. She asked me our reasons for home schooling. One of the reasons is that he has dyspraxia and doesn’t get the support he needs in school.The response went like this

 

Moderator       ” Oh that’s the reading one”

Me                     “No that’s dyslexia”
Moderator       ” Oh it’s the writing one”
 Me                     ” No that’s  dysgraphia”
Moderator      ” Ah it’s the speaking one”
Me                    ” No. Dyspraxia can be verbal but his isn’t.
Moderator       ” Ok what is it then?”

I then had to try to explain what Dyspraxia is. I don’t explain myself verbally very well. Especially if I am put on the spot. This is because I have problems organising my thoughts. When I write I have time to think about what I am going to say. She looked like she didn’t believe me.

The main reason I started writing this blog was to raise awareness of dyspraxia. People can’t be understanding of something they have never heard of. It is really difficult to keep explaining to people what dyspraxia is. I never do it very well because verbal explanations are one of my difficulties.

 

The moderator either didn’t understand or didn’t believe me because she later wanted to know why he wasn’t doing sport. Why would I want to make him do something unnecessary ,that will only humiliate him. This country puts to much emphasis on sport. He gets plenty of exercise. I don’t drive because I can’t judge the speed and distance of a moving object. It doesn’t feel safe to drive when I can’t judge how fast and how far away the other cars are on the road. We walk every where unless my Mum gives us a lift.

 

 I had hoped home schooling would stop him having to put up with this sort of ignorance.  It seems I was wrong. I don’t know why I am surprised. If teachers in schools have no knowledge about dyspraxia ,why would homeschooling moderators be any different. At least with home schooling he has me to back him up. At school he would be forced to participate.

Death In Paradise

 

 

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My mum was recently watching Death in Paradise. She she said to me she wondered if the DI had dyspraxia. I enjoyed watching the show Humphrey Gorman was a very likeable character and for me easy to identify with. It has now become my favourite show. I decided to google “Death in Paradise”. The blurb said “DI Humphrey Gorman is a bit dyspraxic”

 

I wonder if one of the writers either has dyspraxia or someone close to them does. As someone with dyspraxia, the character is very accurately depicted, Yes he is clumsy, knocks things over and even fell out a window. But there is more than that. He forgets things a lot. His assistant will produce his pen or his gloves because she knows that he will forget them. Often he will knock things over , trip or fall.

 

Disorganisation and clutter are a problem. The phone rang after he tidied his desk and he couldn’t find it. He was late for work because he couldn’t find his trousers. Looking for something in the pocket of his jacket, he pulls out a handful of bits of paper and other random junk. Anyone who has seen me looking for something in my handbag would know why I can relate to that. The constant unwinnable battle to be organised.

 

DI Gorman rarely drives. He did in one episode but rather badly. Someone gave him a biscuit and he made a huge amount of crumbs eating it. Kris Marshall is a brilliant actor and his portrail of Humphrey is very accurate and believable.

 

What I love the most about Humphrey Gorman is that he is smart. He is a brilliant detective and always solves the crime no matter how clever or devious the murderer is.This shows people just because you are clumsy , trip over things and loose things a lot, it doesn’t mean you are stupid. He is a positive role model for anyone with dyspraxia.

 

Most people havent even heard of dyspraxia and definitely don’t understand it. If you are clumsy and misplace things they think you are stupid. Even though most people with dyspraxia are of average or above average intelligence. Our brains just work a little differently. We are great at thinking outside the box. Which is probably why DI Gorman is so good at solving these murders

Is It Worth Getting a Dispraxia Diagnosis

Dyspraxia is a lifelong condition and there is no cure. Often people will say is it worth getting a diagnosis if it can’t be cured. When I asked my sons OT for a referal to a paediatrician to diagnose his dyspraxia, she said ‘ they often wont see children for DCD (Dyspraxia) because they dont think there is any point because they cant treat it.” In my opinion it is worth getting a diagnosis for a number of reasons.

If you have a formal diagnosis then allowances have to be made at school and in further education. Students can get extra time in exams and extra tutoring. Teachers are more likely to explain things slower and give them individual attention. Without a diagnosis the child will often  get  no understanding . My son had to wait a long time for a diagnosis because I couldn’t afford a private pediatrician, OT, or physiotherapist. I explained to his teachers that I suspected he had dyspraxia.  He needed things explained more slowly and  he didn’t loose and forget things on purpose. I was constantly told he was lazy and wasn’t trying. To be fair however , his year 5 teacher was great. He was very supportive of him getting a diagnosis even when he was no longer his teacher. He also knew what dyspraxia was and didn’t look at me like I was talking another language. The rest of them were useless and continued to say he wasnt trying until they were given the piece of paper confirming I was right

There is also assistance with looking for employment. A disability job network will give you more support and understanding then a normal job network. They wont make you apply for jobs that you wont be able to do. If you get a job your support worker will also advocate for you with an employer. I had to attend a general job network before I was referred to the disability support network. If you are unable to do a certain job. they accuse you of not wanting to work and threaten to have your benefits cut if you don’t do it. Even when I told them I was in the process of being referred to a disability network, I was accused of lying. The government will also pay a subsidy to employers for employing someone with a disability.

For me the final reason is the most important. I was 13 before I was diagnosed . I grew up feeling stupid because I wasnt like the other kids. When I was diagnosed, it wasnt really explained to me. I knew it was why I was clumsy and tripped over. But there is more to dyspraxia than that. About 5 years ago I went to TAFE to train as an Education Assistant. We were asked to do an assignment on a special need and my lecturer suggested I should do dyspraxia. I borrowed several books from the library and it was like an epiphany. Suddenly there was a reason I was disorganised, talked to loud and couldn’t read a map.

Knowing the reason I can’t estimate distances or remember more than 2 instructions at once is because I have dyspraxia doesn’t make me any better at these things. It does however make me feel better about it. It isn’t because I am less competent than other people . My brain is just wired differently so I find some things more difficult. It also helps to know that I am not the only one. There are other people who struggle with the same things I do. I still loose things, talk to loud and write directions down. But I struggle for a reason and there are other people struggling too

Why Special Needs Children Need a Quiet Classroom

I was reminded recently why a classroom needs to be kept quiet and distraction free for children who are neuro- diverse. Often people with neuro-typical brains don’t realize how hard it is to filter out distracting noises and movement.

A few weeks ago I attended my sons end of year school concert. Unfortunately when the headmaster gave his address a lot of people decided to talk. Many also allowed their children to jump around in the aisles. To begin with it is very rude to talk when someone else is talking. No wonder so many children have bad manners these days when they are not set a very good example.

The problem for me was that I cant filter out the distraction of other people talking or people jumping around. My head began to hurt because I had to concentrate so hard on what the headmaster was saying. It was not a very enjoyable experience and I couldn’t  follow everything that was said. The funny thing was a couple of people asked me how I had enjoyed it. I said it was good except for the people talking. They said they hadn’t noticed that people were talking.

This is how it is for the neuro-diverse child in the classroom. While the other children can sometimes chat and still do their work , children with Dyspraxia Dyslexia ADHD and poor working memory can’t, They need quiet to be able to think and absorb what they are doing. The teacher will often not realize how difficult it is to learn in an environment with even a small amount of noise. We often cannot fully understand what we have not experienced.

Just like my head hurt at the concert from concentrating, students in the classroom get sore heads too. It is also very tiring for them especially if they have to spend the whole day in this environment. Even though the noise level was acceptable for the other parents at the concert, I couldn’t follow what was being said without a great deal of effort to concentrate. It is the same for students with special needs. Children with neuro-diverse brains can not learn with the same level of noise as their teacher or fellow students. Teachers need to be aware that the noise level they can work in  may not be the same as what students with special needs can work in. Otherwise these students are greatly disadvantaged.

I attended TAFE at the beginning of last year. The class was often noisy as the majority of students could talk and work at the same time. I found this environment very unproductive and ended up having to do extra homework because I couldn’t work in a noisy environment. Children get enough homework from school as it is . It isn’t fair for them to have to do more because the classroom isn’t quiet.

Dyspraxia-My Experiences with Education and Medical Professionals

Somebody asked me recently if they could hear about my experiences with the medical profession and education professionals in regards to dyspraxia. While I have recently had some positive experiences, overall I have had more negative experiences then positive. dyspraxia is still not very well-known and most people have never heard of it. However people working in the areas of medicine and education should know more about it. It should be part of their training as people working in these areas are likely to come across Dyspraxia at some point in their careers. It is difficult enough to have to explain to the general population what dyspraxia is but when you have to explain it to people who really should have some idea it is completely frustrating.

Towards the end of last year my Doctor referred me to an Occupational Therapist for some assistance with the areas of life I find difficult. My Occupational Therapist did some tests to see what I struggled with. She then asked me how I got Dyspraxia( Developmental Co-ordination Disorder). I replied that I was born with it. She looked puzzled for a minute and then told me that she had never heard of anyone being born with dyspraxia.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ”Really” I said picking my jaw up off the table. ‘Yes” she said ”I have only heard of people getting it after an accident or a stroke. I told her that I had my diagnosis at home to verify what I was saying. I took it in the next week  and she photo copied it because then she finally believed that what I was saying was indeed correct.

Just as I was getting used to this Occupational Therapist she left and I got a new one. This one informed me that she could re- wire my brain. I think I can take the liberty of speaking for everyone with DCD, Dyslexia etc , by saying that we would love to be able to have our brains rewired. What this OT fails to understand is that there is one major difference between people who have Dyspraxia from an accident or stroke and someone who is born with it. People who have had an accident or a stroke have the proper wiring there but it has been damaged. Where as someone born with dyspraxia didn’t have the correct wiring to start with. There is a vast difference between fixing broken wiring and creating new wiring. Try thinking of it as an electric circuit. If a wire is accidentally cut then to fix it you just need to repair the break in the broken wire. However if a wire is missing then you have to insert a whole new wire into the circuit. Needless to say she did not manage to rewire my brain.

About 3 years ago I had to go for a medical assessment. The nurse asked me to list all my medical conditions. When I said I had Dyspraxia he looked at me puzzled and said that he had never heard of it. I then had to explain what Dyspraxia was and how it affected me. He just sat there looking skeptical which is often the problem when you look normal.

My youngest son has some of the same issues as me and I suspect that he may have dyspraxia also . I got a referral on the public health for an assessment at the Child Health Clinic. The girl we saw had no idea. She didn’t check his balance or his gross motor skills. She then gave him one puzzle to do and said to me ”if he has what you have ( she couldn’t even remember the name of it) he wouldn’t be able to do that. ”No 2 people with dyspraxia are the same . Some of us can do things that others can’t eg some people with Dyspraxia can drive a car  while others ( like myself ) can’t.  You cannot decide that someone does or doesn’t have Dyspraxia on the basis of one puzzle.

On a positive  note I took my son to the GP on an unrelated matter. I couldn’t see my usual GP and my son is nervous of Doctors. While talking to my son to try to make him feel at ease, he picked up on some of my son’s issues . He asked my son questions and said he felt he may be Dyslexic. There are quite a number of similar issues between dyslexia and dyspraxia.  He gave him a referral but as the public health system is extremely slow we are still waiting for an assessment. There are some good doctors out there you just have to find them. This Doctor has a brother who is dyslexic so he picked up on the other issues that go with dyslexia apart from reading. Many of these apply to dyspraxia and also aspergers syndrome so it really needs a specialist for a diagnosis.

3 years ago I had an assessment done by the centre link Doctor to decide how much I need to work. This Doctor coded dyspraxia as being a psychological/psychiatric disorder. It is nothing of the sort. It is a learning disability of movement.  I was totally flabbergasted when I heard this.

Prior to this assessment I went to my GP to see if it was possible to get my diagnosis from Princess Margaret Hospital. It had been over 30 years so I wasnt sure if they would still have the records. It was clear from my Doctor’s attitude that she thought I was making it up because I didn’t want to work. I wanted to work, I just didn’t want to be sent to do jobs I wasn’t capable of doing.When my records came back she said to me well you do indeed have dyspraxia.

Sadly in my experience most teachers have never heard of dyspraxia. My son changed schools 3 years ago and it was the best thing I ever did. The headmistress of his old school had no understanding of special needs at all. I was told he lost things on purpose and that he was lazy. The fact that he lost items that were important to him didn’t seem to make any difference. I asked multiple times for my son to be allowed to leave his pencil-case at school and I would provide separate stationary for his homework. However they constantly made him take his pencil-case home and then punished him for forgetting it. He was even made to sit out at lunchtime for forgetting his lunch because they said he did it on purpose ( he was 7 at the time ).

While the majority of teachers I have spoken to have no idea about dyspraxia I have come across a couple of good ones. This year my son was still constantly loosing and forgetting things. I decided I had better go and speak to his teacher in order to explain that he was not being naughty and that we were waiting for an assessment. I was prepared to have to explain what dyspraxia is etc. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he knew all about dyspraxia . He has been very supportive of my son and has tried to implement strategies for him to learn in a way that he is able to. On parent teacher day he spent nearly an hour talking to me about my son and did not try to rush me out the door. I am very pleased that my son has this teacher and I am hoping he will have him again next year.

In 2010 I trained as an Education Assistant. I thought I could help children with their maths and english. However when it came to the practical assessment in a school I realised that it is not a very practical career for someone with dyspraxia. Most Education Assistants work in classes with younger children where a lot of cutting out and drawing is involved. I was very lucky because my mentor teacher knew and understood about dyspraxia. There was a child in her class with dyspraxia and she was really good at being aware of this childs issues. She was also really good with me, She pushed me a little to try things I didn’t think I could do but was totally understanding if I took longer then I should or didn’t get it perfect.

At the beginning of this year I decided to study Information technology one day a week at TAFE.  On the first day our lecturer asked us to write a little about ourselves. I decided to mention my dyspraxia as I knew I was sure to have difficulties. I was expecting to have to explain what Dyspraxia was. However I was completely surprised the next week when she told me she knew someone with dyspraxia and understood the challenges I may have.My lecturer was great she tidied my USB up twice for me  and reminded me to save things in the right place from the start.She suggested to me that I contact Student Services. The lady from Student Services also knew and understood about dyspraxia. I didn’t get asked the usual questions about what it is and how it affects me. I was given extra time in exams which was great as I couldn’t type as fast as a neuro-typical person. I also received extra tutoring after class.

Though I have definitely seen improvement in the awareness and understanding of dyspraxia, we still have a long way to go.