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When People Think I'm 'Rude' Because of My Dyspraxia

If you were to gather my most commonly spoken words, “sorry” would probably feature quite high. I  often find myself doing things that require apologizing, to the extent that apologizing often becomes my most frequent activity of the day. I’ve slowly come to realize my dyspraxia is often the cause.

Before I was diagnosed with dyspraxia, I was often labeled as “clumsy.” However, sometimes “clumsy” can be accompanied by other words, such as “careless,” “unfocused,” and even “rude.” Most people are fine if you knock the occasional thing over, or trip up and perhaps fall on them. However, after a while the humor wears off, and it can be irritating to people who aren’t aware that you’re unable to prevent it. In all honesty, these people probably aren’t the nicest anyway, but it doesn’t stop the labels from sticking and sometimes becoming a little too painful.

Another aspect of dyspraxia that can irritate others is lack of spatial awareness. I particularly have trouble with this one. Living in a city means having to gain the fine art of dodging people, which I have yet to master. It isn’t particularly easy when you don’t always know where your limbs are flailing about and how close they might be to others. I try my best to focus on where I’m walking, but it’s much harder than it sounds to anyone who doesn’t have this problem. Recently I was carrying a bag through a busy shopping center when I accidentally (quite gently, luckily) hit a small child on the head with it. Of course I made sure she was OK, and apologized many times, but that didn’t stop the mother from looking at me as if I’d just pushed her daughter to the ground and ran away laughing. Incidents like that, and many others like it, often get me labeled as “rude.”

Some parts of my dyspraxia can also lead to social problems. I’m unable to fit myself into a conversation smoothly, leading to talking over other people quite frequently. I see it as tripping into a conversation. I find a chance to say something, but in the process someone else might start talking. I find myself unable to stop talking straight away, and interrupt them. Nobody likes being talked over, so it doesn’t make me very popular when it happens. This is yet another frustrating way in which I seem “rude.”

Another side effect of my dyspraxia is that I’m not very good at filtering my senses, especially sounds. In a conversation with someone where there may be background noise, I may sometimes end up focusing on that sound instead of what’s being said to me. My sister really despises it, because it often leads to her having to repeat herself. I try my best, but it really can’t be helped, and people consider not listening to the person talking to you to be quite rude.

Not all people with dyspraxia share the same traits, but most of us face false judgment for our condition. I feel it’s important to keep looking for people who are patient and willing to learn about your condition and how it may affect you and your relationships. I have great friends who support me and have made the effort to understand me. I believe with time others can find this support network, too.