A conversation today on Twitter made me wonder, will I ever really know whether all my neurodiversity issues fit under the Asperger’s hat (regardless of the almighty DSM criteria), or whether I might also be dyspraxic (an ‘Aspraxie’ as I’ve seen it referred to!). I am not interested in being told that ultimately it doesn’t matter, because that’s not how my brain works. It causes me psychological pain if I am not able to categorise and explain things, even when those categories are perhaps meaningless in terms of day-to-day life.
I have a long history of physical problems, some of which are expertly hidden, or blamed on a ‘bad’ back, leg or wrist, for example I will often ask for pizza in a restaurant to be served already sliced. My slow speed in carrying out physical tasks gets passed off as ‘perfectionism’, and only one friend has ever noticed that I have to put my finger under the line I am reading to keep my place if there is any background noise. I am not known as ‘clumsy’, quite the opposite, because every movement I make is deliberate and focussed. Until I am distracted of course, then I am ‘uncharacteristically clumsy’. This may be best captured by the fact that I am somewhat good at ballet (slow, deliberate, controlled, as long as it doesn’t go beyond my limited range of movement – I can’t even touch my toes), yet I am uncomfortably awkward and incapable at faster things such as tap-dancing or hip-hop. (As an aside, some people think they ‘know’ that I’ve done ballet because of my posture and ‘grace’, but it probably is just my natural stiffness, and a stillness that comes from a fear of moving lest I break something, rather than any swan-like inner peace.)
Therefore some aspects are harder to disguise, such as my tendency to misjudge edges, which sees me frequently walking into door frames, filing cabinets, book-cases etc, particularly if I am speaking or greeting someone whilst walking. I have to hold the handrail or wall when I go up or down stairs and cannot carry out a secondary task such as putting my gloves on, otherwise I would fall down the stairs. I have fallen over whilst gardening more times than I can count, because I get so engrossed in the task at hand that I lose the hypervigilant control I usually need to exert over the rest of me! Throw some migraine-related vertigo in there and you’ve really got YouTube gold…
Overall, issues with physical movement, coordination, weakness and fatigue, have prevented me ever attaining fully independent living, and have lead to loss of jobs, university places, friendships, relationships and self-esteem. Reading the list of adult ‘symptoms’ on the Dyspraxia Foundation website was another lightbulb moment, similar to when I first realised I might have Asperger’s. But then I read about the likely overlap, as well as potential co-existence, and started to wonder, how will I ever really know? The potential overlaps in language, organisational and sensory issues between dyspraxia and AS (and other neurodiverse conditions) are clearly acknowledged, but it seems less obvious whether there is overlap in terms of movement difficulties.
This probably won’t be my last musing on the topic, but it’s where I’m up to at the moment. There is of course the question of whether it really matters, but it does matter to me. Maybe it shouldn’t, but I would like to know, even if it’s just that I end up categorising myself as possibly having both, but just waiting for the right suitably modest expert to confirm. Cue the next area of personal research.
© Catastraspie, 2012.