Growing up with Dyspraxia in America Was a Nightmare

Growing up with Dyspraxia in America Was a Nightmare

It was the late 1980s and I didn’t know why my second grade teacher was yelling at me. He had given me a writing assignment and I couldn’t stay inside the lines on the paper. I couldn’t spell. I couldn’t even write words in the right order or direction.

He kept telling me I had to try harder, but the harder I tried, the more everything went wrong. Eventually, my parents were called into school because I couldn’t write. “What is wrong with me?” I thought. Was I stupid? Was something wrong with my brain?

Early testing that year revealed I had some motor and coordination problems, but doctors didn’t know how to classify it. They called it developmental coordination disorder, also known as dyspraxia, which they said solely affected my physical coordination. But my clumsiness was only part of my story. It wouldn’t be until much later I knew the full extent of my condition.

Growing up in the United States with a hidden and complex neurological disorder was a nightmare, because it seemed as though I was alone. My parents felt hopeless and I was bullied by kids and teachers alike. Worst of all, my condition was putting me on a path of self-destruction.

During my teenage years I experienced anxiety and agoraphobia, while using alcohol to cope with my condition. I had a hard time gauging the amount of alcohol I could drink, leading to countless blackouts, and eventually alcoholism.

At this stage of my life, everyday seemed impossible to live. Nobody could explain my disorder and all I wanted to do was hide. I would ask older kids to purchase me beer in Florida and would consume five pints a day.