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8 Must-Have Items for an Easier Life With Dyspraxia

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During the past year of COVID lockdowns, I have been able to develop new skills and also examine where the gaps are in my life. From the age of 8, I have been diagnosed with dyspraxia. Later, I was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and C-PTSD. The latter has nothing to do with the rest. Most people with dyspraxia are diagnosed with other disorders as well.

Imagine any slapstick comedy, for instance, Laurel and Hardy where someone finds themselves constantly struggling with every single aspect of life. Falling off a chair, walking into doors. All of these are everyday occurrences for me. You’d laugh, right? Well, that has been my experience of dyspraxia. As a side note, laughing has been a very important lesson that I’ve had to learn. Some things I can’t control, but I can control how I react to them.

According to the NHS website, “Dyspraxia, also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD), is a common disorder that affects movement and coordination.” As we are individuals, it affects us all differently. Here is some background on how dyspraxia affects me, to give you an idea of why I have suggested these items to make life easier.

How does dyspraxia affect me?

1. I have issues with accidentally dropping things — almost as if there is a poltergeist in my body that makes me drop stuff while my brain is still telling me to hold the item.

2. I struggle with the feminine aspects of everyday cleanliness, such as dealing with facial hair or make-up. The amount of scars or wonky eyebrows or looking like someone spilled a jar of turmeric over my face is greater than you’d imagine.

3. I find it hard to estimate depth, height and width. I walk into approximately three doors in a day — often the exact same door.

4. I do not cook. I just find it so stressful; there are too many things to pay attention to. Even if I manage to cook a meal, I feel so ill afterward that I often can’t eat it.

5. Picking up skills is a nightmare. I started to knit two decades ago and I’m only starting to get good at it now. I often end up frustrated because I can’t pick it up like other people. Because I have this issue, people sometimes claim, “you’re not trying hard enough.”

6. Many people with dyspraxia struggle with organization. I’m always anxious, always early to places, overly prepared and constantly worried I’m going to forget things.

7. I hate eating. Sometimes it’s because of the texture of the food — for instance, I can’t eat cold meat without wanting to be sick. However, my main issue is the mechanics of eating. I still choke sometimes because of my issue with chewing. The physicality of using cutlery is something I’ve still not mastered, and therefore I tend not to eat in front of other people if I can help it. I’m only comfortable eating around people like my partner, close friends and family.

So, without further ado, here are my go-to eight items for an easier dyspraxic life:

1. Multi cup holder

Although I don’t drink hot drinks, this has been very valuable for me. I often find cups and glasses really hard to hold on to even if the cup has a handle. This right here solves that issue in terms of balancing and not knowing where to hold it from.

2. Anti-slip serving trays

As I said earlier, I struggle with eating and don’t like to eat in front of people. Most of the time, my partner and I eat food in our room as opposed to our shared dining room. I was afraid of constantly dropping plates filled with food, so I would just not carry them. This caused a strain on our relationship, so I found a way around it. The anti-slip trays are perfect, the handles are long enough and there is little chance of the tray becoming unbalanced.

3. Cutlery with larger handles

I struggle with the mechanics of eating — not only knowing what to use to eat specific foods, but physically moving the food to my mouth. I use a spoon about 90% of the time. This stylish cutlery is extremely helpful as it gives me a good solid thing to hold onto.

4. Hair and scalp massager shampoo brush

I struggled to wash my hair for years, but not anymore. My hair is thick and I always felt no matter how much I tried to wash the shampoo out, it was never clean. It made me feel dirty, disgusting and lowered my self-esteem. This shampoo brush literally changed my life. You squirt a little bit of shampoo onto it and it makes sure every part of your hair gets shampoo. After rinsing out the shampoo with water, you use the brush to get the rest out of it. It also massages the scalp, which really leaves me feeling relaxed.

5. Tweezers with non-slip grips

As a side note, I was very badly neglected as a child and was not taught personal hygiene. Adding that with dyspraxia made me feel disgusting because I felt like I was unable to be a woman. It was a steep learning curve, but these helped! These tweezers feel amazing! A very pleasant texture to the touch and easy to hold. After struggling for years on dealing with facial hair and my eyebrows this was an amazing breakthrough to me.

6. Hydraulic rowing machine

Being uncoordinated and overweight, I constantly wanted to lose weight without being embarrassed. I often got funny looks at the gym and felt very embarrassed, which in turn made me not want to exercise. There are very, very few things about the pandemic that has been positive for me, but getting this rower in my room has definitely helped. Now, I love watching TV while rowing, with no one to judge me and gaining confidence in myself.

7. Easy-grip pencils

Parents of dyspraxic children, I beg you to buy these for your kids. I found them once I was in university and they felt unbelievable to use after years of finger blisters. As a dyspraxic child, I used to lean on the pencil too hard which made the lead snap. This would lead me to constantly having to sharpen my pencils and look like I was trying to avoid work. The other issue was that I used to get blisters from the pencil rubbing on my fingers. This would be excruciatingly painful — but these encourage you to hold the pencil in the proper way, giving extra support with the third side of the pencil.

8. Fidget cube

As a dyspraxic person, I have a lot of tactile and sensory needs. I could sometimes waste a lot of time trying to meet this need — until I found fidget cubes. All different sensations and movements can make for a brilliant present for a dyspraxic person. WARNING: This might be great for a dyspraxic person, but it can also be super annoying for anyone else around.

These are the items that make my day more pleasant and enjoyable. We each have different battles to face, but life is meant to be lived, and these simple and inexpensive items deliver a huge return for me every day. I hope these items can help improve your life and make each day a little brighter.

Getty photo by Dragon Images.

Originally published: March 23, 2021
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