Can you outline your history with and knowledge of dyspraxia?
I first heard the word “dyspraxia” at the age of 19 while living in England. Up until that point I knew I had a cluster of symptoms but not a proper label or therapies to thrive. Specifically, I was in school for an “Other Health Impairment” (OHI) but never knew all my symptoms were connected to a Neurological Disorder.
While in England, I learned that all my documentation from my US Education pointed to something larger: Dyspraxia. At that point, the UK was seeing a big push occurring for adults with DCD and Dyspraxia. So, I made myself accessible and travelled up and down the UK gaining knowledge on the disorder. I was evaluated in the UK and confirmed I indeed had Dyspraxia and made it my mission whilst studying at University to learn from the top experts in order to gain in depth knowledge, eventually leading me to founding Dyspraxia USA at age 24.
How did you come to create Dyspraxia USA?
After gaining knowledge and experience in the UK, I created Dyspraxia USA. I decided to move alone to a large city within the USA and set up shop. Then, at the age of 24 I wrote the rules, regulations and bylaws and found a local attorney and incorporated Dyspraxia USA. I thought it vital to found my organization on Understanding, Support, and Acceptance (USA). From that point forward, I made it my mission to create more USA in the USA for 1 in 10. Six months later, I was in the Chicago Tribune and the journey began.
Dyspraxia is still often brushed under the rug and not talked about. What are some things people (either with or without dyspraxia) can do to raise awareness?
In order to gain recognition, funding is vital. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword: how can you fund something that isn’t recognised? How can something be recognized if not funded? Partnering with organizations like JKP allow for more exposure, as does reaching out to press.
I run the charity from my home as I raise my kids (both of whom also have Dyspraxia). In order to get national recognition, I encourage those with the condition to keep telling your stories! It is estimated that 2 children per US classroom have dyspraxia, so if you have questions or need help with learning more about getting a diagnosis, reach out. And whether you or someone you love has Dyspraxia, please help me reach a place via Dyspraxia USA so we are well enough funded to provide the supports that is needed in our community.
How can teachers, school psychologists, and other educators best support young people with dyspraxia?
The best way that teachers and therapist can best support young children with Dyspraxia is the following: working together. It’s a complex neurological disorder that requires many specific therapies. Grasping the condition comes with good and bad days, inconsistent and hidden. Also, be aware that the condition can look like defiance or laziness but is in fact confusion and frustration. I always encourage people who work with young people to focus on the positive aspects that neurologically diverse people can bring to the table.
What are some resources you would recommend for someone who was recently diagnosed with dyspraxia?
For someone recently diagnosed with Dyspraxia, I would recommend the following. Realize that you are not alone! There is a whole community of people who have similar stories and can provide insight and advice. There are also many therapies in development. Also, look at the amazing gifts that comes with Dyspraxia such as care, dedication, and determination. Once you master those steps, feel free to reach out to the organization for IEP/504 and Webinar support for personal development and school education. Always feel free to help the organization grow and get connected to our online community!
As the founder of Dyspraxia USA, what do you hope to accomplish with your organization? What have you already accomplished?
I hope to accomplish a higher level of recognition within the United States. With a great group of volunteers, I have been able to reach many individuals within society and have participated in many press pieces. The organization has also lectured to the heads of the US Department of Special Education and recently provided a Neuro Science Caucus in the Senate. So many press pieces and governmental achievements have been great landmarks of success. To drive things nationally, we will keep pushing to get more recognition and more members, which will allow us to have a more “caviar budget” and reach even more people.
With all the stress about COVID-19 at the moment, what are some ways we can help young people with dyspraxia?
For young people and parents dealing with Coronovirus I give this advice: we are all living in times of uncertainty and frustration, but it’s a time in which the gifts of Dyspraxia such as care, empathy, drive and determination are needed by all citizens. Use this time to become a better version of you!
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