I have dyspraxia, but people tell me I must be drunk – #EndTheAwkward

Guest post by Rosie, who has dyspraxia affecting her movement, balance and sensory processing. She’s supporting our End the Awkward campaign. Here she shares what a typical night out might be like for someone with dyspraxia.

It’s a Saturday evening and I’m off to meet some friends for some drinks. To get there I have to take a train and pass through a busy street.

It takes me a while to get on the train, as I struggle to judge the distance between the platform and the train. As I reach to grab hold of the rail, I can hear people behind me whispering. “Can she just hurry up, what’s she doing?”Portrait shot of Rosie, a young woman with dark hair

The train is packed and I can’t see any spare seats. I can feel myself losing my balance and I bump into people, accidently standing on their feet and hitting them with my bag. “Look where you’re going,” I hear muttered.

I sit down in one of the disabled accessible seats near the train door. The conductor approaches me: “But you don’t look like you’re disabled, why do you need a seat?” I feel so shocked that I spill coins everywhere as I get money out of my purse. “Pay when you get off,” he mutters, disgusted.

I glance at my phone. There are texts from my friends asking where I am. Oh no, I must be running late, and where is this bar again I can’t remember, I’m lost, I can feel my anxiety levels rising, my sensitivity to noise and crowds overwhelming me.

I eventually get to the bar, red faced, the contents of my bag all over the place, anxious and overwhelmed and exhausted. I get a drink, and am still so shaken I trip on a step and spill it down me. “She must be drunk already,” I hear people laugh.

But no, I’m not drunk – I have dyspraxia.

What is dyspraxia?

You can’t easily tell if someone has dyspraxia, and not that many people have heard of it.

It is thought to be caused by a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body. This affects my ability to perform movements in a coordinated way, balance, motor skills and sensory sensitivity. Every person with dyspraxia is affected differently.

Rosie holding a medal, a stadium in the background
Rosie at the Olympic Stadium after finishing a 10k run

It can make it hard to carry out everyday activities, such as riding a bike, handwriting, tying shoelaces or using kitchen equipment. It’s difficult to walk up and down stairs, and I’m prone to falling over. We also can struggle with fatigue and low energy, as it takes our brains longer to process things.

Without proper understanding, people with dyspraxia can be seen as careless, clumsy, and rude – when in reality that’s far from the case.

Don’t judge by appearances

Ignorance, misunderstandings and awkwardness make already difficult situations a lot worse, and make someone with dyspraxia feel anxious and overwhelmed.

To end the awkwardness, people shouldn’t judge based on appearances. You never know if someone has an invisible condition, and you never know who might need that seat on the train. A little bit of patience and kindness can go a long way.

Portrait of Rosie with her boyfriend
Rosie with her boyfriend Matt, ‘who helps sort out the chaos’

And don’t make assumptions about what I can and can’t do. We aren’t stupid or careless; our brains are just wired in a different way, so the way we learn and process information is different.

Although day-to-day life with dyspraxia can be chaotic and frustrating, it also has meant I’m a very determined and resilient person. I am creative and able to see the bigger picture, and the experiences I’ve had have made me more understanding and empathetic of others.

With the right support and understanding, dyspraxia doesn’t have to be a barrier to success and living life to the full.

Rosie blogs on her site Thinking Out of the Box, writing about disability, diversity and creativity. Want to know more about how to End the Awkward? Watch our videos made in partnership with Channel 4.

19 thoughts on “I have dyspraxia, but people tell me I must be drunk – #EndTheAwkward”

  1. As someone whose balance problems due to Charcot-Marie-Tooth have gotten me turned down from entering a dance club (because I looked too drunk to them stumbling along despite being entirely sober) I am very glad you’re raising awareness.

  2. Oh Rossie. You could found a better progress for your sik. Sometimes can you confuse the right by the left? Well but was the design Many peoples help-you. Unfortunately, anothe people put in the right side the thing’s that’s are left and the left side the thingh’s that’s are right. Bad people. More or less samebody in this worl might live and provoque imperfeccions. But you add the pain that you seak is so real. I know. I knowledge some people that told-me, when he drive. When I was a child or childhood or teenager I had dispraxya I was confusing the right and left side. Now , sometimes I think that’s itself suceed. But no. Well, I hope that you could found a great improve and I send my hung and my brotherhood

  3. That why i had post this in facebook <<Do I have reason to question the teaching nonverbal (body language) easily accessible to the public because I feel that if it is misused may only adds more prejudice against Dyspraxia ?? Am I correct or not ??

    This blog confirms exactly what I feared and I recommend you to interest you what's the nonverbal. Joe Navarro is excellent nonverbal expert, it would be good to mention it your reality and I'm sure he could help you about nonverbal study as much as you can teach him what is dyspraxia

  4. Thank you so much for this post i have dyspraxia I was diagnosed when I was 13 although I could never understand before that what teachers were explaining to me I used a computer at school as I could not write I can not cook or prepare food especially if it involves peeling or cutting veg I can not play pool/snooker I can not even make a cup of tea as I spill the kettle drop the cup I can not pour milk I fall over fresh air I hate noise and busy places and suffer from bad anxiety I to have been refused entry to pubs/clubs as they thought I was already drunk I hate having to board trains/busses/trams as I no if I have to stand I’m going to lose my balance il miss judge the distance between the platform and train as you can see from this I do not no where to put commas full stops etc iv been called rude and clumsy and stupid iv been bullied cause of my dyspraxia but il tell you it does not get easier as they say not in my life anyway and it does control my life 😦

  5. I had Dyspraxia and my promble people off told me drunk too but find way around that because dyspraxia is dyspraxia don’t show in weelchair we can’t sit down it push chair now get Mother tell me there won court case can sit in our disable seat infact I should be should now New north frield centre but know the bus be fall so going have walk down new north centre stafford staffordshire I Oap ladies need hit me shopping Trolly because double push chair won’t get off.
    I had sit on side seat because bus was full.
    The pubic transport is awful for dyspraxia and wose of my mum don’t listern to me my prombles because her work come first beside me.
    I angery because I paiding go there 54 pounds people live there paid noughting mum think disco tomorrow but don’t think so.
    I leave my two beautiful cats Sydnee and Annabel
    I feel dyspraxia havn’t got voice.

  6. I have ASD and suffer from similar difficulties as a result, thank you for this post, it is well written and hopefully will make people think. My anxiety goes through the roof in public settings that involve co-ordination, I remember PE classes throughout high school were a nightmare, it was bullying and then being ignored. I rely on my partner a lot for help with cooking and other tasks too, thankfully I have an amazing partner who is super understanding and helpful. A support network is really important I think.

  7. My name is Dr Linda Buchan, I am a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and also have Dyspraxia. I related to your excellent description of what it feels like to have Dyspraxia.

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