Dyspraxia, arts and crafts | Natalie Williams - UK


Arts and crafts often require intricate detail (and therefore good fine motor skills) and the ability to carry out a sequence of tasks (requiring coordination and processing). And amongst the things dyspraxia affects are fine motor skills, coordination and processing. Despite how contradictory it sounds, it doesn’t mean that creativity isn’t for you if you’re dyspraxic! It’s about finding something you enjoy and doing it in a way that works for you.

During school, art homework would often cause a lot of frustration as what I did, didn’t look ‘right’. I had quite a black and white view of what the end result should have looked like and felt frustrated when my attempts didn’t turn out like that. The thing is, I did like being creative, it was just that dyspraxia affected the physical skills which were needed. This was in addition to the effects of dyspraxia on emotion regulation, meaning I would find it difficult to keep frustration in perspective – in reality, it didn’t matter if what I did wasn’t perfect!

Tech was also a subject I found difficult due to all of the practical elements it involved. When it came to textiles, I seem to remember enjoying the idea of sewing but finding the time constraints and expectations difficult, as I couldn’t physically work as quickly as the others in my class.

However, there were some creative things I did quite enjoy when I was younger – cross-stitching being one of them. I think doing it at home was much more enjoyable, as I could do it in my own time and at my own pace.

I then decided to give cross stitching another go last year. I wasn’t sure how I’d find it, as although I’d bought a ‘starter’ kit, it wasn’t one of the kid's sets I’d done when I was younger. Whilst cross stitching does require the use of motor skills, I still found that being able to do it at my own pace was helpful. If it took me longer and more attempts to thread the needle or find the right hole on the canvas, it didn’t matter. In addition, the fact that cross-stitching is quite structured also helped. There were times when I got a bit frustrated with it, especially when the thread got knotted up, and I didn’t finish it in the way that you ‘should’ but that didn’t matter as I enjoyed it overall!

Another craft I like is diamond painting. On paper, you’d think it’s something I’d really struggle with, as it requires picking up small ‘diamonds’ with an applicator and placing them in the correct place on a canvas. I do sometimes get them in slightly the wrong place and have to move them or I accidentally tip the tray over and the diamonds go everywhere but I still like doing it. Things that are structured like this I find to be more enjoyable because you can’t ‘see’ it being messy, whereas something like drawing with more opportunity to go ‘wrong’ isn’t enjoyable for me.

I feel that spending time away from a screen and doing something which you find relaxing, but also feels productive, is really beneficial, particularly during the current lockdown. You get a sense of achievement from each bit of progress you make and even more so from the finished product.

Of course, every individual with dyspraxia is different, in addition to the fact that everyone has different interests and hobbies. But hopefully, this article has given you some insight and perhaps inspired you to try something creative.

– it’s a new year, why not try something new?

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