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How My Lack of Body Awareness Makes People Uncomfortable

One of the most awkward and most misunderstood parts of having a learning disability is my lack is my lack of body awareness.

The difficulty of how I move leaves other people to wonder what is wrong with me. Others have thought I was drunk, had a stroke, or other physical disabilities. Some people have been cruel and told me that my gait is creepy or have said unkind things. Other people didn’t want to be around me because of my lack of grace. Many people think that lack of eye hand coordination is only a factor in playing sports or in gym class. But lack of motor control extends from athletics into the school, home and the community.  One area that I had a hard time with was understanding personal space. I can remember walking too close to people when in public at the mall and a person saying, “There’s plenty of room over there.”

I also have challenges with letting people pass by me in a hallway. I don’t pick up on the cue if I should let the person pass or move forward. If the person moves forward, I often move towards them. When I don’t move, people often look at me oddly.

Lack of body awareness often makes me feel like I am in the way. I have blocked exits and television screens. I have had angry and frustrated people stare or make rude comments to me. I also have a hard time with anticipating the movements of a crowd. Once I was part of a circle activity and didn’t realize the circle was widening, leaving me in the middle. One of the group
leaders who didn’t like me told me that “you’re not the center of the circle.”

Grace is also not my forte with dancing because I am unable to count beats and have two left feet. There was a guy who had an issue with this. He took ball room dance lessons and couldn’t understand why I struggled with it. I also attended a wedding and I caught the bouquet. He wouldn’t try to catch the garter. He also refused to dance with me. He told me I was a horrible dancer and said it was set up so that I caught the bouquet. A friend told me that he wasn’t the guy for me and said someone would come around that thought the way I danced was cute. My husband loves to take me in his arms and dance with me.

My lack of body awareness is not based solely on having a learning disability. My feet turn in when I walk due to how I was positioned in the womb. A failed surgery didn’t fix my feet because the issue is in my hips. Having Scoliosis also didn’t help with my body awareness. People were always telling me to walk straight or not to hunch my back. The curved spine and turned in feet don’t cause me pain. I have also grown used to anomalies, that I don’t realize that it’s not typical to move this way. People have even blamed my shoes for my difficulties with movement. I have fallen in heels, flats, sneakers and my bare feet. Finding the right pair of shoes may take more work due to my unique feet, but no shoe will cure my disability.

I may move differently, but I don’t let that stop me from what I want to do. I may not be good at competitive sports, but I can do group exercises classes such as boot camp or barre. Fitness class helps me to develop a better sense of body awareness. I am able to make the connections on where to align my body better. Taking fitness classes has been more effective that hearing someone tell me to straighten my back or feet. My feet may turn but they still carry me
on many long walks.

Life is too short to sit on the sidelines and watch others be active. The way that I am moving may make others feel uncomfortable, but doesn’t hurt anyone unless I bump into them. If I run into you I am truly sorry, it wasn’t intentional. I can’t control the reactions of other people. The negative comments from others are not helpful and make me feel more self-conscious.
Despite what others may think of how I move, I am determined to keep going. I have places to go and won’t let my disability or the reactions from others stop me.


Getty image by Borut Trdina

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