Thursday, 22 September 2016

Dyspraxia and the Paralympics? (disability sport)

i've decided to write this blog after seeing the latest video from Krystal on the Paralympics and some disabilities not being included which you can see here
im going to start by also linking to the article by the Guardian that krystal mentions in her video it wasn't until i first saw this article a year or so ago that i was aware there ever was any sporting competition/category that allowed people with dyspraxia and similar conditions to compete against each other which is the S17 category.the dyspraxia foundation also put out a statement urging the international Paralympic committee to reconsider their decision
from what i understand from the article in the guardian,this category has not been included in the Paralympics but has been in other national and international disability events, but now the S17 category in the view of the international Paralympic committee (IPC) does not exist and in the article it is mentioned that the amateur swimming association and British swimming are not including/supporting this category anymore due to the fact that these disabilities are not internationally recognized e.g. Britain being the only country that recognizes these conditions as disabilities. however other sports may have different views and may be able to support a category for these conditions in their sport for example the football association in England has a section for learning impairments but these impairments have to impact sporting performance in some way i do believe in football atleast at an amateur level learning impairments are included in the cerebral palsy 7-aside game sometimes.
in my view this exclusion of disability seems wrong and especially so from the IPC as a comment in the article says the Paralympic legacy is inclusion and this seems to be exclusion especially as there is no event for those with dyspraxia and/or similar conditions to compete against each other as the special Olympics also does not have a category for dyspraxia or any SpLD and Asperger's (high functioning autism) and eligibility to the special Olympics is very similar to the Paralympic category of S14 for athletes with learning disabilities but is judged on IQ and as Krystal mentions in her video many people who are neurodiverse actually have quite high IQ's so those who were eligible for the S17 criteria are not likely to be eligible for the S14 category or the special Olympics whose criteria you can see here
however having said all of this due to the nature of conditions such as dyspraxia and similar conditions such as they can affect different people to very different levels plus how common they are. this means that there is a good possibility that there are elite able bodied and para-athletes that may actually have dyspraxia (whether they are aware of it or not) but many sports have a culture of making sure there are no signs of weakness shown or anything that could be considered a weakness this leads to people not being open about it (especially during their careers) so there ends up being no role models for young aspiring athletes/sportspeople in the same situation causing a vicious cycle although i did recently see something about a rugby player being open about having dyspraxia which may over time become very helpful.
hopefully this blog has made this situation as clear as possible and ive tried to link to as many of the documents that ive used as well as using my experience having looked into this before.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Dyspraxia and its links to other diversities (co-occurring conditions)

this blog post is going to focus on the other difficulties/disabilities that often seem to occur alongside dyspraxia with brief overviews of them.

i am going to start by saying there is some thought that it is extremely rare for Dyspraxia to occur in isolation as well as some thought that certain condition wont or shouldn't occur alongside dyspraxia due to similarities in my opinion i thin k there may be some truth to be both opinions and i wouldn't say it was definitive either way especially due to the wide array of things that can be apart of dyspraxia which could cause confusion over whether someone has multiple conditions or whether the difficulties they face are a part of their dyspraxia.
probably the most common or the most well known of the difficulties to occur alongside dyspraxia is Dyslexia which is predominately a difficulty with language and words there is also Dyscalculia which is a difficulty with numbers/maths and is sometimes referred to as number Dyslexia as well as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia there is Dysgraphia which is a difficulty with writing, mostly handwriting.
Autism or Autism spectrum disorder is another it is also the one that creates confusion as it is the disability that some suggest shouldn't occur alongside Dyspraxia due to how similar some aspects of both conditions are (however some people are diagnosed with both) there is also question marks over whether dyspraxia is or should be a part of the autistic spectrum. Natalie (the blog with one post) has done a blog on  this
another condition that often occur alongside Dyspraxia is sensory processing disorder which seems quite self explanatory as a difficulty with processing senses, this is another difficulty that could be causing confusion due to sensory difficulties already being quite a large part of dyspraxia for some people.
hyper and hypo flexibility is something that can occur on its own as well as many dyspraxics having it as well and this affect the range of movement you have in your joints with Hyper meaning more than the normal range of movement and hypo meaning less than the normal range hyper-flexibility may be more commonly referred to as double jointedness.
ADHD (attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder) is something that often occurs with many neurodiverse conditions including dyspraxia and is difficulty or poor attention span and this sometimes leads to hyperactivity however not all the time and this hyperactivity is not always obvious it could be just fidgeting such as moving tapping of the foot or hand.
there is also verbal dyspraxia which is difficulty with speech or making certain sounds or controlling volume and pitch of voice this is sometimes referred to as apraxia of speech which is slightly confusing as there is a difference between apraxia and dyspraxia, which is that Dyspraxia is a developmental disorders whereas Apraxia is Acquired dyspraxia this could potentially happen after a stroke for example.
 a final thing to note is that it is suggested that people who have learning/neurological difficulties such as these mentioned in this post are alot more likely to suffer with mental health difficulties especially if they are not supported.

i hope that this blog has helped some people understand some of the things that can occur alongside dyspraxia and a very small amount of what these conditions are.

Friday, 19 August 2016

My Arrangements + supports in Education

this blog post is going to go through the arrangements/provisions and supports that i have had throughout all my time in education.
starting with primary school has i mentioned in the primary school experience blog i was not diagnosed until after my primary years so i had very little/no support although my mum has told me i was put into the all the programs and lower level classes for special needs however as i mentioned in the previous blog (which you can find here my year 3 teacher was the only and first teacher in primary school who focused on the quality and content of the work rather than the handwriting or presentation whereas most other teachers did not bother marking the work if they were unable to read it.
in term of middle school (yr5-yr8) it was in year 6 that i was diagnosed with Dyspraxia however i still dont recall having many supports in place, i do remember an attempt at having a scribe (where you say the answer and the scribe then writes it down) at this point having a scribe didn't work i dont think i was comfortable having to say my answers out loud and it also makes kit slightly harder if you need to make notes or if its a long answer as you might forget some of it before the scribe has had a chance to write it all down but other than that attempt at having a scribe i dont remember any other special provision in place or attempted throughout the 4 years of middle school.
for high school and college (yr9 - yr11 + post 16/sixth form) my school attempted a few different supports the first of which i can remember was a word processor which i liked but it wasn't totally effective due to temperamental technology and because i wasn't good or fast at typing. the next attempt was having a transcribe for exams (which means that i sat the exam normally on my own then after the transcribe would come in and rewrite the bits that they were felt would be too difficult to read after i told them what was written down) i preferred this as i was able to focus on the exam however this became quite time consuming especially as the transcribe would do it on their own to prevent me from missing lessons although there was one point the entire english department weer unable to read my writing so they had to get me from the lesson i was in this eventually led to me having a scribe again at this point it did seem to work better than when i was in middle school possibly because i had the same scribe for all of my exams and someone i knew from lessons (a TA from the english department) this continued throughout the rest of my time at that school so through to sixth form/college.
at university the supports in place were mostly products that were received as a part of disabled students allowance (DSA) the equipment that i received was a dictaphone, laptop and standwith a laptop bag, a printer, keyboard and mouse also installed on the laptop was some software including audio notetaker for the dictaphone for recording of lectures and seminars dragon naturally speaking which allows you to speak and the software did the typing on to the laptop however i struggled with this as it couldnt understand my voice and as you have to train it to understand your voice by reading to it which i never really had enough time to do alongside this software for the first few weeks (i think) you also have training/tutoring on how to use all of the equipment (i never got used dragon naturally speaking however) especially the software based ones which can take a little bit of time to get used to. DSA also pays for the tutoring from within the university and their disability support department and for most of my time at uni i wasnt clear on what exactly i could go to them for most of the time it was just proof reading essays it wasnt until my dissertation in my third year that i had help that included planning and the layout of the work i also feel like there may have been more included in that but it was never made clear exactly what 'services' were 'offered' or in place.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Education Part 4 (University)

this post is the final part (sort of) of this series of blogs about my experiences during education and at the moment university as an undergraduate is my last experience of education (it could change i may do a postgraduate course).
university is obviously quite different than compulsory education and even further education and in many cases it also involves living independently which was the case for me as i moved over 100 miles away from Kent to Southampton and i studies Football studies (yes it is a real course) at Southampton Solent University which is in the city centre. i think ive mentioned previously that as a part of living independantly at university i used to have a day which i did all the cleaning, washing up and laundry etc. although over time this changed quite a bit and became quite difficult due to other commitments (sports and uni work) especially throughout the later part of my 2nd year and my 3rd year. i also lived in student accomadation (shared flats) throughout all 3 years of my time at university which i think was probably a lot easier than having to find a student house to rent and share, im not aware of the reason (if there was any) for why i got a place in student accommadation for my 2nd and 3rd year there is a possibility it that it was due to dyspraxia but i cant be certain.
At the moment i currently look back on my time at university (its been just over a year now) as ok but nit brilliant or good im not certain as to why it may be that course wasnt right for me as i only liked a few of the topics that were covered this could change over time, it may have been different 4/5 years ago when i chose that course initially but at the moment i look at back the only stand out really good thing about my time at uni was a doing a handball coaching course and becoming involved with the Handball team at the University of Southampton over the rest of my time at uni and that has led to me doing some handball coaching and refereeing when ive come back home (which i find a bit ironic considering what i studied).
in term of actual university work and lectures etc. much of it was quite dull, i wasnt brilliant or terrible at any of it i always managed to get it done in time im not sure how with some of it and there was even some issues during my 3rd year so i had to change what my entire dissertation was going to focus on (and i know some people who will be reading this will have taken part in the survey about sports participation amongst dyspraxics so thank you).
as soon as i finished my uni work i went straight into all the details for my charity cycle ride for dyspraxia awareness.
at the present time overall university for me still feels like an ok option as i dont know what i would have done if i didn't go to uni and i may consider doing a postgraduate degree if i can find one that i like however some advice i would give to people looking  at going to university or going a different route is to spend quite a bit of time really thinking about the options that you have (especially if your school was/is anything like mine where everything was aimed at university and very rarely spoke about the other options in any depth) and then if you decide to go to university spend as much time as possible looking at every course you like the sound of and compare them all to each other and look at everything about the course (as courses with the same title can be very very different from each other) , the university and the area it is in especially if you were to be able to move away from home  

Friday, 5 August 2016

Education Part 3 (high school and sixth form)

hopefully this post from my education experiences will be slightly longer than the previous two as i should be able to remember more from high school and sixth.
for me this was probable the best school that i had attended in terms of the provisions i required due to dyspraxia.
starting in year 9 i can remember using a word processor (keyboard with a small screen)that was connected to certain infared printers in the school like this

this did not really work for me at the time as i was not the best at typing or a particular fast typer.
then during year 9 i retook all of my SAT's exams again (not really sure why as id did well on most of them in year 8) and for these exams i had a transcribe so i would do the exam myself and at the end a teaching assistant would read through it and re-write the bits that they were unable to read after i told them what it said at first i would stay in the exam hall with the TA but then after a while i would go to my next lesson and the teacher/TA would then do it on their own which proved unsuccessful as they were unable to read my handwriting so i would be taken out of lessons to translate which then eventually led to me having a scribe so i would say the answer and the scribe would then write it down which i have had for every exam since then.
also another good thing about the school was my form (a 20-30min lesson everyday prior to lunchtime) teacher who it think may have been one of the 'specialists' for students with learning difficulties had a family member who was also dyspraxic.
to quickly talk about my GCSE's i mentioned that i had a scribe for all of my exams or handwriting assignments apart from french for some reason however moving on to my option subjects which i had 3 which for me were sports studies, geography and french alongside the compulsory lessons such as english, science, match, ICT and the two subject which had no exams or tests which were PE and ethics and i can remember when it came to choosing my options sports studies was the only subject which i actually wanted to do eventually just because i had to choose to other subjects i ended up choosing to do french (which i only chose because at the time my uncle lived in France) and geography (which i ended up enjoying). almost forgot that near the end of year 10 my english teacher kept me in at the end of the lesson to try and teach me how to write E's which makes up half of my name so if i hadnt been able to write the letter E by the age of 15 there was no way he was going to be able to teach me in 5mins.

when it came to choosing whether to go to sixth form/college either at the school i was already at or at another school or a college i did look into going to the local high schools sixth form (as i went to a school between 30min+1hr away from home) but i (and my mum) quite quickly decided on going to the sixth form at the school i was at due to the support they had provided throughout my time at that school and i ended up doing sports studies and science although i stopped science after the first year as i wasnt enjoying all of it or doing that well and to focus on doing my best at sports studies