Mental Health Matters
Self-esteem can be hugely impacted by someone who is dyspraxic because they are hyper-aware of their differences compared to those around them who are not dyspraxic. This normally starts to affect someone around their teenage years as they become more aware of their differences and their struggles become more apparent. At a very young age, a young person may not ‘stand out’ as much as we associate clumsiness and the ability to undergo new tasks as something we associate with young people. And so when they get older especially around teenagers it becomes more apparent as others start to recognise this and it can often be perceived as negative.
For example, a dyspraxic young person will find themselves not being included in some playground activities, being picked last for a sport, being picked on for the way they move and more.
This is what causes someone's self-esteem to be somewhat reduced as you can imagine that when someone points out you've done something differently to their peers it can make them feel even more hyper-aware of how different they may be. And while the dyspraxia community recognises these differences as often positive things as we have learnt that our differences make us unique and we make up for some of our struggles elsewhere as we can focus more on the things that we do enjoy and the things that we can do. And so therefor weeks succeed in those areas, however, it is not normally until we are older and have left school that we can really explore those routes.
So we must support young people, especially those of Adolescent age, to learn and understand themselves better to help improve their self-esteem.
However, it is not the job of the person who has a disability or a learning difference to educate the world around them. It is the other's who need to take the initiative to educate themselves. The best we can do is encourage it, we are not responsible for whether or not someone chooses to learn about us.
The most important thing that we can do to help young people is to encourage those around them to learn about their disability so that they can respect and appreciate them like they would their peers. Disability discrimination is often not recognised for what it is and is often called ‘indirect discrimination. An example of indirect discrimination is the pen licence which is something that has been spoken about a little bit in the media recently as only young people who can write to a specific level of neatness are given access to write with a pen. And of course, this will exclude dyspraxic children as their handwriting is affected by their dyspraxia.
Educating teachers and their classmates about someone's disability or learning difference is a huge step to ensuring that young people can grow up in an environment where they are respected and included in a healthy environment.
Understandably not all schools have the funding to undergo this training which unfortunately is not provided to a reasonable level during teacher training. We often rely heavily on individual teachers and support training staff to educate themselves and put into place a plan to help them support the individual. And on behalf of those teachers and training support staff, we thank you for all of the support that you do provide to those students. We hope that others will educate themselves like you have so that our young people can learn and grow in a healthy and inclusive environment.
We have put together a small list of resources and activities that could help a young person improve their self-esteem. we understand how difficult improving one's self-esteem can be and we would like to remind you that this is not a linear process. That means progress does not always go forward. It can often mean taking steps back, a few more steps forward, and a few more steps back before reaching the desired end goal. Mental health is a serious health concern that should be treated as soon as possible. Encouraging young people to talk about their feelings will help them as they grow into young adults. It's important to never dismiss someone when they are trying to express their feelings, if you believe the way they are expressing their feelings to be harmful to them and others around them it is important to look at other ways that they can do so healthily. For this exact reason, our founder Krystal-Bella Shore created a dyspraxia journal. Our recommendations are only some examples of other ways we can encourage young people to express their emotions.
We have also recently created an online survey so that we can understand what impact someone who has been diagnosed with dyspraxia and not told about their diagnosis or someone who was not able to get a diagnosis because a carer or parent withheld them getting access to one, and how that has affected their mental health. If you yourself are dyspraxic and can provide an insight into how this affected you as a young person and are able to provide an insight on this then please do visit our website to complete the survey.