They are the type of people with whom I have butted, uncomfortably, up against for most of my life, as I have Dyspraxia. No, it is not some new-fangled way of describing fundamental weakness, it is not caused by sugar intolerance or a way of glamourizing laziness or self absorption. It is simply a way of labelling a certain kind of brain functioning (which I call my brain ’tilt’) which is unusual and which often manifests itself in behaviours which are inconvenient to a society that likes people to fit in. It is annoying, particularly, to those arseholes with a stronger-sense-of-loyalty-to-conventional-standards-of-behaviour we were just talking about.
When I was at University, the disability centre conducted some IQ tests on me, as although I was doing well with the content of my course, I was struggling with the organisation and management. The tests revealed in me an odd ‘intelligence’ distribution. My mathematical skills, spatial awareness and short term memory tests showed an IQ of 92, but my linguistic tests showed an IQ of 136. The educational psychologist, who was poking her metaphorical fingers around inside of my brain, told me, that even though a degree of difference between the two ‘aspects’ was common, that such a marked difference was not. It is sort of like having one part of your brain running a marathon, whilst the other sits around chain smoking, in her underpants, and stares blankly out of the window.
She went on to explain, that this odd distribution of intelligence in my mother board resulted in my having to cope with a magic show of awkward physical and behavioural patterns. Can’t ride a bike, can’t drive a car, often can’t distinguish between left and right (hence, read a map), persistently forget where I am going, what I am doing, what happened five minutes ago, oh, yes and bad handwriting with poor levels of basic organisation. Hence, often, bad grammar. Oh, but on the upside, I am a natural speed reader, if I can concentrate for long enough to bother.
It is like being Dory. I can’t remember who I am half the time or what is going on (for short periods), but I can read well and I do speak Whale. And jobs for which those specifications fit, as you can imagine, are constantly dropping out of the fucking sky. It enables me to focus heavily on the ‘big’ things in life like love, art, ideas… whilst all the necessities of day to day living are constantly flapping wildly behind me in the wind.
During my salad years, as a ‘starting out person’, things were not too bad; being somewhat disorganised, uncouth, and ‘irresponsible’ was par for the course, but as I kamikazed towards adolescence the rules changed. Particularly for girls. The expectations that one should be tidy and organised in handwriting, dress and demeanour were reinforced by both our teachers and our peers. This insidious belief, that women should be more conformist, undoubtedly is given birth to by a cultural history that views women as spare ribs, followers, secretaries, needle workers, blanket folders, and such. I imagine it was difficult for most girls, but if you were Dyspraxic, it was impossible.
I was persistently being told off by teachers for my poor levels of organisation and regularly laughed at and mocked by my classmates for being perceived of as unattractive and ‘weird’. Finding out I was Dyspraxic – and that all it did was make me different, not deficient – was indeed some remedy for the low self esteem I had accrued as a result.
It initially smarts when some Twitter Twat has a pop at my bad grammar or typos. But I have rationalised something: people who point out errors like this are like the people who mock others for being fat. They not only mean spirited, but wily competitors carrying around fragile egos. It is hard to define, due to subjectivity, whether or not someone is interesting, intelligent, attractive or charismatic (let alone of good, moral character), but knowing if someone is thin or spells good, is objective. Easy to define. Easy to point out. The Katie Hopkinses of this world, or the middle aged men who regularly grace the comment sections of national newspapers, are paragons of this. Paragons of people who wish to assert their belief in their own betterness through the simplest, most ungracious of means. They are the people who posture about with their ‘basic good sense’ but snub poetry, ostensibly because it is ‘fluffy nonsense’ but really, because they just don’t understand it. And due to their arrogance, they cannot accept any of their ignorance.
It is easier to find simple methodologies for assigning lowness of character or poor social worth as a way of easily distinguishing themselves as inherently ‘better’. And this competitive, and often asinine commercial culture, validates them in their pettiness and vulnerability.
One wishes they could go find a large island somewhere, and fight it out amongst themselves, and leave the rest of us – with our incompleteness, our wonkiness, our chubbiness – to our own world of flexibility, compassion and understanding.
If you have, or think you may have Dyspraxia and you live in the UK, The Dyspraxia Foundation may be able to help. You can find their website here.
Written by Rae Story. If you’d like to help her keep her sorry backend in clean socks and sandwiches please consider making a donation from this page.