Tag Archives: dyspraxia

Bullied for being disabled, but we turned it into a positive – Anti Bullying Week

Rosie and Glen were both bullied at school because of their impairments. In this blog they talk about how they moved forward with their lives and want to spread awareness about the bullying many disabled people face. 

Rosie’s story

“Being bullied made me determined to raise awareness about invisible disabilities”.

Being dyspraxic meant at school I always stood out like a sore thumb compared to others.

From the way I walk and move in a clumsy uncoordinated way which was different to others, always falling or bumping into others or other things.

To it’s made me socially anxious and struggle to maintain friendships. I always had and probably will have different interests to people my own age. I’ve always been seen as disorganised, chaotic, messy and a bit all over the place.

Being so different made me an easy target for being at the receiving end of some awful bullying. Words can have such an impact on your life and how you see and perceive yourself. It made me lose what little confidence I had to begin with and really struggle with my mental health and I would hear the words of what people were saying constantly. I thought I must really be stupid as it was constantly being said to me.

I put a lot of the bullying due to lack of awareness to what dyspraxia is, the fact that dyspraxia is invisible to the eye and negative assumptions of what I could or couldn’t achieve. As an adult I still struggle with anxiety and will never be a naturally confident person.

But my experiences made me decide that nobody should have to go through what myself or my family had been through and I was determined that more awareness needed to be raised about issues invisible to the eye.

Rosie 1 edited square

The bullying I experienced has taught me the power of words and why I choose mine so carefully and not make judgements and assumptions about others.

I work as a learning support as a college and know the value of time, patience and empathy can have on students who may be struggling. I have also been able to prove the people wrong who said I wouldn’t achieve anything.

Words have the power to encourage, destroy, make someone loose confidence in themselves or make someone feel hopeful. We can all try and help people feel hopeful.

Glen’s story

“I’m still a little bit shy and probably always will be, but I’m far more positive now”.

I first went to a mainstream school, but it didn’t go well. The teachers didn’t know how to help, and I was bullied by other kids because of my sight loss. So I was removed very quickly, and transferred to a school for the visually impaired that my parents discovered.

Of course, my confidence had been shattered, so I was very shy. Which led to some of the kids at my new school bullying me as well. Not because of my sight, as they were in the same boat, but because they realised they could wind me up easily.

Glen wearing a suit in a park

However, I made good friends, and the teachers were extremely supportive, so my confidence gradually improved over the years. And I even became friends with the kids who had teased me at first. Partly because I was being more successful than them, but I also got to learn more about them, which helped me understand their behaviour and put it into context. We learnt a lot from each other.

So things turned out well in the end. I came away with great friends, fond memories and good results, and got myself a degree and a job. I’m still a little bit shy today, and probably always will be, but I’m far more positive and confident than I would have been if I hadn’t moved schools when I did.

This is an extract from Glen’s blog Well Eye Never. You can read Glen’s full post about bullying here. 

If you have a story you would like to share, contact Scope’s stories team.

Do you need someone to talk to?

ChildLine – 0800 11 11

ChildLine is a free, confidential support service for children and young people. Their staff speak to thousands of young people every day – you are not alone. Phone 0800 11 11 or visit the ChildLine website.

Calum is using magic to challenge attitudes

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Calum Morris is a 21-year-old magician from Sheffield. He has spent years honing his skills and has set up his own business.

As part of 30 Under 30, he talks about the opportunities his career has given him and how useful magic can be in changing attitudes.

I’ve been interested in magic since being a kid, but it wasn’t until I saw Dynamo walking across the river Thames that I decided I wanted to do it professionally. I was impressed at how he’d taken it to the next level and that night I got my old pack of cards out and started practicing again.

Four years ago I set up my own business. I came up with my stage name, Magi-Cal, and used it as a personal brand. I like to entertain people, cheering them up and putting a smile on their faces, magic gives me the chance to do that everyday. I now perform at birthday parties, corporate events and weddings. I do a mix of stage shows, micromagic and impromptu street performances.

This job has also given me the opportunities to meet world famous magicians. I get on really well with Dynamo, last year he invited me to go backstage at one of his shows, he’s a really nice, likeable guy. It was great to meet Derren Brown and David Blaine as I’m a big fan of them both.

Calum, a young disabled man, holds up a deck of cards and poses for a photograph with famous magician, Dynamo

Breaking down barriers

I like to think I’m challenging misconceptions of disability through my work. I’ve always been told what I can and can’t do. At a young age my parents were told that I would never be able to speak, but they never gave up on me. These negative attitudes have only propelled me to overcome the barriers I face. I like to disprove people and always strive to be the best I can possibly be.

People often don’t know how to act around disabled people, they feel awkward and think they have to speak differently to us or talk down to us. Magic is a great way to interact with people and challenge these attitudes. Over my career I’ve definitely seen things start to change and I want to continue to do this.Calum, a young disabled man, performs a card trick in front of a group of people

My disabilities can make learning some tricks more difficult. Being dyspraxic means I’m a bit clumsy, my hand movements are not as fast as people without the condition. This has meant I’ve had to work very hard to master card manipulation and sleight of hand. I always have a deck of cards on me and take every opportunity I can to perform, constantly practicing has helped me really hone my skills.

Most people learn tricks through books but this has never been easy for me because I’m dyslexic. Reading can be a struggle, but I make the most of what I’ve got and think of creative ways to overcome the challenges I face.

As much as my disabilities have been hindering, they’ve also helped me in the industry. I’m able to be much more imaginative with my magic because I’m able to see opportunities for tricks that others can’t. I’ve come up with some really weird pieces that others may not have thought of. I’ve managed to get into Sheffield’s Magic Circle, which wasn’t easy but has really helped me to progress and grow.

I really want people to see past my disabilities. I don’t want people to book me because they feel sorry for me, but because I’m a likeable person and a good magician.

What the future holds for Magi-Cal

This summer I’ll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’ve been going every year since I was born and in August I’ll be doing street performances on The Royal Mile. This was always my favourite place to go as a kid, and I’m excited that I’ll be there as an entertainer this year!

Magic is one of the few things that helps people forget about the troubles of day to day life, that’s my favourite thing about it. It’s all about the good feeling it gives people. And if I can make people’s day that little bit better, if I can bring a bit of happiness into the world, I think I’ve done my job well.

Calum is sharing his story as part of 30 Under 30. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing something extraordinary. Visit our website to read more of the stories from the campaign.

 

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.