Please stop calling my dyspraxia 'cute' | Krystal-Bella Shaw - UK
I grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, by this point dyspraxia was a known disorder, however, still widely unrecognised by key people who interact with young people (teachers, social workers etc). However, the people in my life assumed I was just "cute and clumsy" a term that actually really upsets me to hear.
Why does that upset me?
While dyspraxia is part of who I am, it is not my personality. It's something that impacts me daily and makes many aspects of my life difficult. And to call that 'cute' implies it's something I choose to do and ignores the struggles I face every day.
We wouldn't call someone with Parkinson's Disease 'cute' for spilling food on themselves so why should it be considered 'cute' when I do it?
For my entire childhood, I believed that my difficulties were caused by something of my own doing because of the language people used. I also felt stupid, my self-esteem was awful as a child. I was often told I couldn't do some tasks because I was a 'girl' and in their eyes, girls are considered weak and incapable of undergoing complicated tasks. "you're such a girl, you're so weak..." They assumed I couldn't perform new tasks well or understand new instructions because I was "ditzy/ a girl"
Should my brothers or boys in my class react the way I did they weren't considered cute, but in fact the opposite. They were ridiculed and told "stop being a girl about it/man up" Further enforcing the idea that being 'a girl' was bad and it's the reason I couldn't do a selection of things. They were more likely to receive support, as those parents were seemingly embarrassed or really concerned by the idea their sons couldn't throw a ball. But again, it was 'cute' if I couldn't.
It took a long time, after diagnosis, for me to teach myself that I wasn't stupid, I wasn't weak and most definitely was not bad for being 'a girl'. I was incredibly strong in so many ways. I was able to mask my difficulties for years in order to try and fit in with others in my class. I managed to rebuild myself and start to learn more about myself as soon as I had discovered the word 'dyspraxia'. I am not 'cute' or 'weak', I am a person who spent most of her life trying to figure out who she was and in the process, also helped others discover who they are.