Tuesday, 7 February 2017

I Am Special. I Am Me

When S was in her reception class they worked on a topic called ‘I am Special. I am Me'

Each child produced a little keepsake box and it included stories and pictures of their birth. Not pictures of the actual birth obviously, that would be quite disturbing for a five-year-old. No, it was just things like the very first picture they had taken, what they weighed, who came to see them etc. My Mum thought it was a bit nosy actually but then she's a cynical bugger. Inside the box was a booklet where the parents, family members and friends could contribute stories and little anecdotes about their child. The things that made them special, what made them 'them'.

It was lovely.

S still enjoys looking through hers, she likes reading the stories and looking at the pictures. Seeing what it is her family and friends think made her special. In it we all talk about how funny she is, about how she makes us smile and laugh every single day. How she loves all animals, yes even spiders. How she loves playing football and mud and being outdoors. How creative and kind and brave she is.

“She’s one of a kind” they say “She is unique”.

Excellent we think.

Unique, one of a kind, quirky these have all been used to describe S in the subsequent years, and we’ve always celebrated that. That’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges along the way, I mean no one gets through the early years of childhood completely unscathed do they, parent or child.

Being a tomboy has bought with it its own set of challenges. Not knowing quite where you fit in socially can be hard. S has friends but she much prefers spending time one on one, she struggles with larger social situations finding them at times overwhelming. She doesn’t always know how to react in them either and his can lead to frustrations on her part and understandably, her peers too.

We empathise with her struggles, we love all of her quirks and character traits. We would not change them or her for anything in the world.

That’s just who she is right?

Well what if we were wrong?

A year ago, the school approached us about the possibility that S had Dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder of the brain, I could go into detail about it, a whole lot of detail actually as Dyspraxia has pretty consumed my life over the past 12 months but I won’t.
I’ll just link the Dyspraxia Foundation here if you want to learn more about it.

We’ve spent 12 months questioning everything. A year looking at everything differently, even looking at her differently.

Is she just a bit clumsy? Is the fact that she trips over her own feet sometimes due to ‘Dyspraxia’

Is she forgetful for losing her jumper or is it ‘Dyspraxia’?
Is she having a meltdown over Weetabix * because she’s just being a royal pain in the arse? Or is it a problem with sensory processing that comes with ‘Dyspraxia’.   

We rejected the notion that she had it, then we embraced it, then rejected it again. We blamed ourselves for not picking up on it sooner. What if coming out of school covered in mud all the time not normal after all? What if all the times she’s struggled in social situations is because of Dyspraxia? What If we had it wrong all along?

We were just at a constant battle with ourselves and it was exhausting.

Two weeks ago, we went to the hospital for S’s assessment. She’d been upset the night before as she was naturally nervous about going. She was also upset because she thought it meant that her teachers thought there something wrong with her, for being the way she is. She thought that we thought that too. We obviously assured her that was absolutely not the case, it was just to check if she needed any additional support in school should she need it. But that's something that still upsets me when I think about it to be honest.

Also, because in all the ways that S displays Dyspraxic symptoms, they are what S reads all the time in that booklet, they are all the things her family love most about her.

“They are just what make me special” she said and they are. 

S does not have Dyspraxia.

She does not have nor need a label for who she is, she does not have a diagnosis for her quirks. You can’t measure her against her peers because she simply isn't like them.

Am I glad we went through the past year? Yes and No.

No because it knocked the stuffing out of me. I was constantly told by everyone it “wasn’t a big deal” perhaps, not to you. Not if you’re not going through it but for someone like me who suffers with anxiety? Whose self esteem can be pretty low at times. Constantly questioning if you’ve missed the fact that your child has a special need is basically as shit as it gets.

No because every time Mr O told me not to waste money on books, or time on Dyspraxia forums, yes really. He was right, i hate that. (i'm not allowed on some of the dyspraxia forums any more either, I am letting my daughter down apparently, for not fighting for a diagnosis for which she doesn't have. Good times)

Yes because it shows the school she attends is excellent in its ability to recognise when a child may indeed have an additional need, if S did have Dyspraxia and it was never picked up on that would have held her back in the long run.

Yes because I honestly feel like I know and understand my daughter more than I even did before.
It affirmed what we always knew about her, that S really is unique.

S has never tried to change to fit in even though in the past that would have undoubtedly made things easier for her. It’s one of things I admire most about my daughter.

To know who you are, to be proud of who you are and to demand you be accepted as you are, that takes true courage. I only wish I could have been brave as a child, I wish I could be that brave as an adult actually.

"If I'm not going to be respected for who I am Mum, then that's no acceptable" Her words.

I often worry that I'm not doing a good enough job raising a girl in this world, then she comes out with something like this.

That’s my girl.

*So not a sensory processing issue then? Just having  meltdown over Weetabix. 



  1. As usual, brilliant......from the heart with wonderful understanding and humour xx

  2. Thank you so much salsascouser! You are too kind x