I am on at the bottom of the escalator with my toddler. There are our four feet waiting to tread on the moving stairs. I can’t do it. I really can’t. I panic, pull my toddler towards them but then drag him back because I cannot possibly visualise getting four feet onto the constantly  moving stairs. I think people might be watching and am nervous.


I am not a normal human being.


To my two year old, the escalator is exciting. To me, it is an obstacle that must be challenged. It moves whilst my feet want to move and I can’t work out or comprehend how to combine the two. Add some tiny welly clad legs that also move of their own accord and I am flummoxed, scared, so many things going on at once that need to move in one fluid quick motion. I grab him again and he steps on confidently and easily whilst I pile on behind in an uneasy flurry of two many feet and nerves. We have done it. Now at what point do I consider stepping off when nearing the top? The more you think about it, the worse it becomes and the stairs are slowly  beginning to flatten.


I am dyspraxic.


Even in my head, despite the test that confirmed it, the small tap to the base of my spine which made me fall over, the word sounds like an excuse. Clumsy, stupid, thick. Words that I imagine the whole world has always said about me and which many people probably have.


It is a relatively new word to an old condition but people are suspicious of new words, think they are an excuse for bad behaviour or stupidity, maybe something invented by a Labour government as an exercise in political correctness to absolve bad parenting and dim children.


I have a degree but struggle with putting five fingers into a glove. When those fingers are not mine, it is impossible.


Recently, at work, I utterly buggered up an observed lesson involving lines of symmetry.  I was not the one being observed as I am a teaching assistant but without the mirrors used in the previous lesson, I was completely unable to visualise the opposite of a shape and thus when a child made a mistake, in my head it was correct as I could not see differently, could not visualise it. I can write a thousand words far more easily than  folding a  trapezium  in my head.


When realising my mistake, I corrected it and explained that I was wrong but saying it was due to dyspraxia was virtually impossible to the teacher let alone a child.

 But it took a lot of effort for me not to burst into tears of guilt and self-hate.

If a child has special needs, there is quite rightly support available for them but what happens when they leave school or college?

Special needs do not just dissipate once a child is out of school uniform and not every adult with special needs is easily identifiable. I have Fly London boots and a designer coat, I might look normal, confident, assured but a  fuzzy voice overhead telling passengers for  Bristol Temple Meads to now go immediately to Platform 1B for Wolverhampton instead of the platform I am already waiting on? I am terrified, confused.


I can’t distinguish in a panic my left from my right. North, South, East and West have always been utterly alien concepts to me. My visual memory of where I have been is poor and I can have a long conversation with someone one day and not recognise their face the next. I can look at a pigeon’s gnarled foot on a train platform, think about, write about, even photograph it but I always only seem to see the small scale detail in a panorama, not the whole of it, I drift through life in a nervous panic, too scared to try to achieve anything higher than just not looking like like an absolute fucking idiot in front of strangers.


I know deep down I could achieve more. But so many small constant fuck ups, so many lost things, so many forgotten things, so many lost memories  leaves you with an utter sense of hopelessness and doubt. I have fucked up today, I will probably fuck up tomorrow.

But I will I go out. I have my child and his constant confident forays into the world and so I will get on a train for him. I will have rechecked the timetable several times and my heart will be pounding.


But despite it all, despite the terror and panic, I love exploring and so does he.

And now I have a glove-less two year old to tell me where Platform 2b is.

9 Responses to “Dyspraxia”

  • narf7 Says:

    Sometimes it takes seeing things through someone elses eyes (even if they are 2) to be able to distance yourself from the immediacy of the moment. Kids are like that…although when you have them and are prone to anxious and fumbling behaviours, your panic can end up worse. Kudos on sharing. My 25 year old daughter has high functioning autism. Not the kind that would have her banging her head on a wall but the kind that would have her focussed on a single thing till she burns it out, dressing like a man when she is most definately a woman, having panic attacks because she has to use the phone and not knowing how to react to people when they talk to her. Life isn’t kind to adults who don’t “outgrow” their conditions but you live, and you learn, and you fall down (again…) and you pick yourself up and you dust yourself off and after the panic attack subsides (which it always does although it might not feel like it at the time)you just get back on that bloody escalator and you ride that bastard to the next opportunity to panic, fall down, and learn, because ultimately, that’s what it is all about.

  • cyberfairy Says:

    Thank you for another interesting and intelligent reply! I understand about the autism- people seem to be threatened by adults behaving in non ‘normal’ ways- maybe because of ridiculous sensational reporting in the media? I look normal in the train station wearing a designer coat with hair straightened and make up on but nobody knows I got there an hour before my train is due despite the fact I live less than five minutes walk away as I am so scared I will get something wrong, I over-compensate to ludicrous levels.
    Sometimes it is not life which isn’t kind but other people so I hope your daughter is treated kindly and with respect. When a day is filled with a thousand small acts of terror, it can be draining.
    And yes, I am so much more confident than I was- and I do get back on that escalator- because the other alternative is a lift and that’s a whole new bundle of terror ;-) x

  • The Alpha Parent Says:

    I feel your pain. I too, am dyspraxic. I’m the first to freak out when a ball is thrown my way, and toppling over like a drunk during gym classes is one of my regular sideshows.

    “Special needs do not just dissipate once a child is out of school uniform”.

    Very true. Anything short of a ‘hardcore’ disability goes unrecognised once you reach voting age.

  • TerrariaMum Says:

    Came here from mumsnet. I am so relieved to know that I am not the only dyspraxic mum in the world. Every time I google dyspraxia in adults, the only results I get all seem to focus on men as though women have a sort of innate lack of clumsiness. I had a dreadful time with this growing up because girls are supposed to be good with fiddly stuff and why wasn’t I?

    I totally relate to the feeling about escalators and the getting somewhere ridiculously early to compensate for the possibility of fucking up. Thank you!

  • cyberfairy Says:

    Thanks for both your posts and hello ;-) Yes, school was an utter nightmare- still have cold sweats thinking about my grey desperate scrap of cross stitch- dyspraxia wasn’t a word I had heard of then. And Alpha Parent- feel your pain with the ball- feel a shocking advert for ‘catching like a girl’ – like I have let the side down somehow- the toddler normally gives up and goes to play with the cat instead.
    Anyway, thanks for nice words- was lovely to get blog mentioned on mumsnet- particularly after a horrible week… x

  • Laura The Toy Tattler Says:

    Thanks for posting. My son has dyspraxia and it is a great help for me to hear about life from an adults perspective. Alongside all his exercises I am also trying to teach him to ask for help, that it’s fine to ask for help, and people are almost always willing to give it.

    Thanks again for posting this.

  • cyberfairy Says:

    Yes, in the main, people are helpful to someone wondering around lost etc (especially I have found out since moving up North ;-)) and it is a good skill to be able to ask for help without feeling embarrassed or ‘dumb’. You sound like a very supportive mum!

  • CraftyTeachet Says:

    So good to read this! One of my very first students when I started teaching was dyspraxic. It made me think very hard about how to teach practical science to a young man who struggled to recall left from right. He has since blossomed, but he still struggles. I can’t imagine how it must be for you, but I wish you all the best! (By the way, I can make it up an escalator, but am terrified by going down them…)

  • cyberfairy Says:

    Science was a terror for me – so many flammable and breakable things…so many things to remember. I always wanted to be an archeaologist but suspected clumsiness and precious artifacts might not be a winning combination.
    Escalators are a bit rubbish really when you think about them. Are we all that lazy really?

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