Monthly Archives: October 2014

Motor Deficits: Dyspraxia

I have had mild motor deficits all my life. Since I don’t know whether they have ever been diagnosed and if so, as what, I try to learn about conditions such as developmental coordination disorder, and strategies that work for people with similar problems.

Dyspraxia is similar to developmental coordination disorder (DCD). DCD is a somewhat misleading name for the whole construct of dyspraxia, as dyspraxia can, besides fine and gross motor skills, also affect speech as well as sensory processing. Dyspraxia is seen as a subtype of sensory processing disorder (sensory integration dysfunction) where the brain has trouble interpreting and responding to the body’s movements..

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), there are several different types of dyspraxia. These are:


  • Ideomotor dyspraxia: where a person has trouble executing single-step motor tasks such as waving goodbye.

  • Ideational dyspraxia: problems occur with multi-step tasks, such as brushing teeth, making a bed or putting on clothes in the right order.

  • Constructional dyspraxia: affects ability to establish spatial relationships, for example, moving an object from one place to another correctly.

  • Oromotor dyspraxia: affecting the ability to control the muscle movements necessary for pronouncing words.

Dyspraxia can cause many different problems at various stages in development. The NCLD lists these difficulties by age. Young children may have trouble learning to crawl, roll over, walk, jump or skip. In adition, they may have trouble in the following areas:


  • Prnouncing words and being understood.

  • Developing hand preference.

  • Sensitivity to touch, such as clothes touching the skin, hair-combing or tooth-brushing.

  • They may bump into things frequently>./LI>

As children age, the following difficulties may emerge:


  • Poor pencil grip and handwriting.

  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks such as buttoning clothing and cutting with scissors.

  • Problems in playing sports.

  • Difficulty sensing direction.

  • Difficulty speaking at a normal rate or volume.


Additionally, children with dyspraxia may have trouble with social skills and have phobias or obsessions.

Teens and adults with dyspraxia may have problems in the following areas:


  • Speech control, such as volume, pitch, articulation.

  • Writing and typing.

  • Over- or undersensitivity to touch, light, smell, taste, etc.

  • Personal grooming and other self-help tasks.

  • Cooking and other household tasks.

  • Driving

The Dyspraxia Foundation lists many other symptoms of dyspraxia, such as motor overactivity, excitability, messy eating, lack of sense of danger (probably due to sensory seeking behaviors, as an example the Foundation lists is jumping from heights).

I do not have all symptoms of dyspraxia. For example, I am very much right-handed, though an old educational psychologist’s report says my lateralization was poor (at age eight). Some symptoms can also be explained by my blindness (such as my bumping into objects). I am, however, told that my messy eating, oromotor difficulties, difficulties with complex tasks such as making a bed, balance problems, and sensory over- and underresponsivity, are not normal for a blind person. I do not truly want a label for these, but I am finding that it is extremely hard for me to explain these problems to my treatment team, and they affect me to a great extent.

Autism and Blindness: Reflections on My Diagnosis

Today, I read a post by an autism MOm feeling lucky that her children were diagnosed relatively early on. It caused me to reflect on my late, but not exceptionally late diagnosis of autism. I was diagnosed at age twenty. This was not because no difficulties were noted early on, but because my parents felt a diagnosis would be limiting me, so they didn’t seek one. And I can see why.

I was autistic all my life. I was autistic when the school questioned my intelligence because of my poor behavior and what I can only think was underachievement. I was autistic when I was finally accepted into a high level, mainstream high school. In 2003, I attended a performance by some of my teachers who were mocking school policy, and one of the things they mocked was the school’s overrepresentation of special needs and gifted students. I had three of the conditions they mentioned the school had perfect programs for: intellectual giftedness, autism and blindness. Nonetheless, if my autism had been diagnosed before my acceptance into this school, I most likely wouldn’t have been accepted. In a way, I applaud my school for accepting me as an individual. I didn’t fall apart, or at least not while still there, so probably they met some of my needs to a reasonable degree.

I was autistic when going to blindness rehab and independence training. I was autistic when enrolling as a psychology major at the nearby college. Had I been diagnosed before my enrollment, I would most likely not be accepted regardless of my qualifying high school diploma. I was diagnosed while at this college and in independence training.

I was autistic and diagnosed with it when I enrolled as a linguistics major at university. I was autistic and diagnosed with it when I dropped out. I was autistic and diagnosed with it when I was admitted to the psychiatric unit, although this unit wouldn’t accept my diagnosis at first.

My parents believed that an autism diagnosis would limit my ability to become independent. It did. I believe that a lack of diagnosis would limit my ability to have a good quality of life. It did. And I for one believe that quality of life is more important than independence.

Some people believe that an autism diagnosis would enable a child’s or adult’s care team to cut the child or adult some slack with regard to their behavior. I believe that my parents and teachers in high school cut me more slack than my support staff at independence training or the college teachers did, and this is why I needed a diagnosis. They sought a diagnosis because they knew my behavior wasn’t normal. Accpeting my behavior as normal for me might’ve worked when I was a child, but in the real world, it doesn’t work.

I recetnly read an article in a magazine for parents of blind children about a mother whose child was suspected of having autism in addition to being blind. Eventually, the parents decided not to pursue a diagnosis, as they reasoned the child’s behavior was understandable given her character and blindness. My first reaction to this article was that I’d trade my diagnosis any day for true understanding of me as an individual. The thing is, the systmem doesn’t work that way.

Beyond Autism Acceptance

We often hear about autism acceptance, and I am all for it. Autism acceptance means accepting the autistic person in your life, whether it be yourself, your child, spouse or whoever, including their autistic differences. Autism acceptance does not mean not wanting to change anything about yourself or the autistic perosn in your life. After all, we all want to change and move towards teaching our full potential, and I remember from I believe it’s Eriksonian psychology that only a small percentage of people truly reach their full potential at the end of their lives.

Unfortunately, many parents of “low-functioning” autistic children say that they cannot accept their child’s autism because it’s rendering them incapable. I understand their point of view, but I do not see why there is nothing about their child’s autism that they can accept. As Suzanne over at Rarer in Girls says, she sometimes actually delights in her daughter’s autistic behaviors even though Janey is labeled “low-functioning”. At the same time, Suzanne wants Janey to learn functional communication and to become toilet trained. I totally see why.

I myself do my best to change certain aspects of my autism. For example, I watn to become less irritable and less easily overloaded. This is not because I don’t accept myself, or because I feel autism is bad. It is because I feel I could have a better quality of life if I learned strategies to regulate my sensory sensitivity and emotions.

I honestly believe that no person, autistic or not, has nothing they want to change about themselves, and for parents of all children, I don’t believe there’s nothing they want to change about their child. For this reason, I dislike the dichotomous perspective on which autistics need to be “fixed”. As Suzanne says, her child is “low-functioning”, but there are still aspects of her autism that she cherishes. In this respect, let’s move from which autistics need to be fixed on to which symptoms of autism need to be treated so that people can have a good quality of life.

There are other reasons I dislike the autism dichotomy. I am not allowed to complain about any of my difficulties, because I am more capalbe than some autistic children ever will be. These same parents are advocating for fulltime support for their children once they become adults, but I, being more capalbe in only a few areas, should deal without support. It’s that simple in the Netherlands. If you don’t require institutional support (which I do require, but people not working with me don’t get this), you fall under the local government in terms of funding for support, and care is no longer a right (which it is if you need institutional care).

Nothing in autism is dichotomous. It isn’t like, if a person crosses a certain, arbitrary line between “low-functioning” and “high-functioning”, they suddenly become completely acceptable and not in need of any treatment or become completely unacceptable and in need of a cure. There are people who can speak and write coherently who feel they’d want all their autistic symptoms to be cured. There are also (parents of) people who don’t have functional communication who don’t wish (their child) to be cured. That doesn’t mean these parents don’t want their child to learn. All parents want their child to learn and grow. As I said in my first paragraph, even neurotypicals often want to change. Change is inherent in a person’s process of aging, but that doesn’t mean that a person at any stage of their life isn’t acceptable.

Favorite Quotes #TuesdayTen

Today, Tuesday Ten is all about quotes. I love quotes. In this sense, I’m not lucky that most quotes today are shared as pictures on social media, although maybe I’m lucky not to get enough of them this way. I use quotes for jumpstarting my writing process sometimes. I also use quotes as part of my art journal pages, although I’ve not done one in a long while because I find it a nuisance to have to ask someone to print and cut out a quote for me.

art Joural Page

Today, I share ten of my favorite quotes, or more accurately, ten randomly assembled quotes I happened to come across and happen to like. I have attempted to make a good mixture between the inspirational and the funny.


  1. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
  2. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

  3. “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

  4. “I love deadlines I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams

  5. “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

  6. “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Woolf

  7. “I decided early in graduate school that I needed to do something about my moods. It quickly came down to a choice between seeing a psychiatrist or buying a horse. Since almost everyone I knew was seeing a psychiatrist, and since I had an absolute belief that I should be able to handle my own problems, I naturally bought a horse.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

  8. “There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

  9. “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” – Sigmund Freud

  10. “The greatest need that any child has is the need for unconditional love” – Brenda Boyd


That last one isn’t famous (although I bet the Redfield Jamison one isn’t famous to anyone not involved in mental health either), but I got it out of Parenting a Teen or Young Adult with Asperger Syndrome (Autistic Spectrum Disorder by Brenda Boyd. The quote, she says, came from her original publication in 2003.

The Golden Spoons