Having dyspraxia makes navigating everyday tasks – such as driving – a lot more complicated. But the disorder is not insurmountable, writes Elsa Vulliamy
“Oh my God, what happened – did you crash? Are you OK?”
I had just walked in from my latest driving lesson. After a several years of watching me walk into tables, trip over random objects and drop literally everything, my partner probably spends the majority of my hour-long sessions praying for my survival.
“I got fired,” I hang my head. “My driving instructor fired me”.
During my second lesson, while I was flailing around trying to shift gears, my instructor asked me if I had dyspraxia. I said yes, but that I wasn’t sure how much it affected me. At the end of the lesson, she broke it to me that I would probably never drive a manual car. I would need to start learning on an automatic if I were to have any chance of passing my test.
How I first learnt I had dyspraxia
I was diagnosed with dyspraxia aged 10, after being assessed by an educational psychologist. My mother had first suspected something might be wrong when I was much younger. She’d always been mystified, she tells me, as to how other parents could afford to clothe their daughters in woolly tights when I went through three or four pairs a week – constantly falling over and cutting my knees.
There were other signs, too: my handwriting was practically illegible, my hands and feet flapped about when I ran and I was extremely sensitive to certain clothing textures and itchy labels to the point where it caused me significant distress.
Teachers noticed that my attainment in school was negatively disproportionate to my intelligence level and while many assumed I was simply refusing to apply myself, my mother knew that I was studious and consistently eager to please – whatever was preventing me from excelling was not within my control.