Verbal Dyspraxia at Christmas

I love Christmas in the same way as most other people; shopping, baking, mince pies, mulled wine, Christmas music, lights, singing with my choir at various events. That lovely Christmassy feeling in general.

But, for many of us with communication difficulties, it can also be a challenging time of year. Social skills don’t come so easily and naturally to us with verbal dyspraxia; there are a number of situations where I think I should know how to respond to people but I don’t. Simple things that most other people don’t have to think about.

Many times in conversations I don’t know what to say quickly enough, due to my slower processing skills. Large groups in gatherings are more difficult personally when it comes to this; the conversation is between lots of different people so I find it hard to keep up at times – even with a big family group. If I think of something to say and how to word it, the conversation has often already moved on. This can even prove to be a challenge between one other person if I’m not used to talking to them. Judging the right time to interject when I have something to say can be hard too.

After any conversation with someone or a group, I always worry about what people think about me if I’m unable to express myself and only say a few words. I worry that they think I’m weird and deliberately being rude not saying much, when actually I have dyspraxia, a genuine difficulty. Anxiety really doesn’t help either, which is linked to being self conscious of my different voice. I never have the confidence to accept invitations out because of my social difficulty.

Please be aware of my difficulties in social situations at this time of year and all year round; it doesn’t just affect me at Christmas. Try and include me in conversations as I always want to interact and show my chatty self, but understand that it may take me longer to process what you’ve said and to respond sometimes.

 

 

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Imogen and Immie

I had an idea to write this blog post to highlight the difference in me at home where I’m comfortable and confident, and outside my comfort zone.

Imogen and Immie are two very different people in one body;

Imogen:

  • Appears very quiet and shy in situations where she’s not with her family, including at work around staff and other adults
  • Can appear uninterested and boring. Might be mistaken for being rude and voluntarily choosing not to speak in conversations, when she always longs to be her chatty self around everyone. Not being able to talk is NOT a choice and is very lonely and isolating for her
  • Dreads people asking her a question or telling her something, due to knowing the expectation to reply and fearing that she won’t be able to, despite the fact she also wants to be treated equally and included in conversations. Likes the company of others and appreciates everyone saying ‘hello’ and asking how she is
  • Is able to talk freely around the children she works with, and really enjoys playing and communicating with them, using makaton that she is nearly fully qualified in and is very passionate about
  • Has always been underestimated due to her struggles with verbal communication
  • Can take her longer to process what’s been said, inevitably appearing to be difficult when she can sometimes find it hard to understand and follow instructions
  • Is very self conscious of her voice when she’s not with family, which makes talking harder. Always worries that people won’t understand her or that people will think she’s foreign
  • Is very sensitive and can get upset easily by comments made about me being quiet or not talking

 

Immie:

  • Loves socialising with family and a few friends, constantly chatting and having a laugh (and a drink of rosé!)
  • Sings in a local community choir Sing! Bentley Heath, where they fundraise for charity and sing in different concerts throughout the year. Was the youngest singer to accompany the choir to the prestigious Air Studios in London in June, to record their first EP to be sold for charity
  • Completed the London Marathon aged 18 when her parents were told as a baby she might never walk, after months of tough commitment and tenacity. Raised £4730 for a personal cause, the sight loss charity Fight for Sight by putting on various fundraising events and writing newspaper/magazine articles. Likes running, walking in the countryside and being outdoors
  • Writes articles for her local magazine as well as blogs about her struggles to raise awareness. Can express herself and verbalise her thoughts easily through writing
  • Likes cooking and baking when she has time, and loves meeting and befriending celebrities. Is a big fan of BBC’s Masterchef and has won a cooking competition judged by a Masterchef finalist. She is mates with Gregg Wallace and has also met John Torode a few times. Other celebrities she has met include Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry
  • Loves dogs, especially her labradoodle Lottie, her best friend
  • Won a Solihull Civic Honours Award in the Inspirational Young Person category in October
  • Wants to work with children with speech and language difficulties, possibly also specialising in Makaton. Is very passionate about special needs due to her own experiences and likes learning about other disabilities. Very determined to succeed

I have verbal dyspraxia and an anxiety disorder with speaking in certain situations

What you can do to help:

  • Always try and include me in conversations where possible. To begin with, if I’m really struggling with talking, maybe ask me closed questions to gradually get me used to simply saying one or two words to you to join in. As my confidence grows, I should be able to begin to say a bit more to you and others in the conversation
  • Remember that just because I seem withdrawn and quiet, it doesn’t mean I want to be this way and I’m actually loud, chatty and outgoing around family. It’s more frustrating and upsetting for me that it is for you. I am always trying my best and hopefully, with time, patience and understanding from others, I should be able to show my true colours around everyone at some point, but this won’t be instant
  • Recognise my strengths instead of focusing on my weaknesses
  • Reassure me that it’s ok to be like this and I’ll start talking more as my confidence grows
  • If I’m having a good day and I say more than usual, don’t comment on it or mention it at all, treat it like it’s normal. I know it’s for encouragement when people do this, but it highlights the fact that I’m different and can be embarrassing and knock my confidence more

It will take me a long time to be able to talk more freely everywhere, and I will always have this difficulty to some extent, but with time I’m hoping that more people will be able to see the real me.

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Dyspraxia and Me

Chris Packham recently did a BBC documentary called ‘Aspergers and Me’ to educate people about the condition and to raise understanding and awareness of what it’s like to be him and the misconceptions surrounding autism. I found this powerful, emotional and heartwarming – prior to watching it last night, I didn’t realise Chris had this condition. I don’t know a lot about the difficulty, but a lot of the children I work with have some form of autism and it educated me more about some of the traits.

He visited America to see how they are trying to cure autism by electromagnetic radiation. In the special school he visited, children undergo rigorous repeated behaviour modification, in order to try to make them normal. The professionals carrying out these potential treatments and cures say they would cure autism if they could, even comparing it to chemotherapy for cancer. I found this really wrong and upsetting; autism isn’t a disease, we should be embracing difference and accepting everyone for who they are.

Although I don’t have autism myself, ‘Aspergers and Me’ got me thinking about my own difference, verbal dyspraxia. I can get very frustrated and down due to my struggle of speaking to people every day; having a different voice and struggling to be myself and communicating with everyone day to day is very isolating and lonely. I’m inevitably missing out on friendships and connections with different people, and everyone assumes I’m just really quiet and weird.

However, when I reflect on my attributes I can see that dyspraxia has made me the person I am today. It has given me a lot of empathy, an ability to connect to the children with speech and language difficulties and other disabilities that I’m working with. Without any understanding of what they’re going through, I don’t think I could do my job. It has also given me a real determination to succeed, particularly when someone doesn’t think I can do something. Tenacity, drive and resilience are traits that cannot be undervalued.

I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m doing now if it wasn’t for dyspraxia. In addition, I wouldn’t have ever met so many people that play an important part in my life today, like my Regional Makaton Tutor who got me interested in the profession. None of that would have ever happened. I probably wouldn’t have ran the London Marathon, since my drive for doing it was to prove to people I could do something amazing when my parents were told I might not walk. I wouldn’t have raised all that money for charity and I wouldn’t have been awarded a Civic Honours Award. The list goes on of what wouldn’t have been if I wasn’t dyspraxic, and the list is long.

When I think of these positive things, I feel so grateful for dyspraxia being a part of me. Like Chris with aspergers, if a cure was offered for dyspraxia, although a lot of the time I’d love a normal voice and to be able to talk to everyone, I would probably say no. It’s part of who I am, and I’m proud to be me despite suffering a lot with low self esteem and anxiety due to all the struggles. There are positives!

‘We need to start redesigning society rather than redesigning the individual’

 

 

Driving Test Experience

Passing your driving test is one of the best feelings ever for anyone, but when you’ve gone through a lot to get to that point it makes it even more meaningful.

Before my 17th birthday, I was worried I wasn’t going to be capable of driving. It was one of the things dyspraxic people are said to find too difficult, with most having to learn in an automatic. Too much coordination. I was surprised when I found it no harder than my twin brother and was so pleased when I discovered I could drive a manual car and started having regular lessons. I passed my theory test just after my eighteenth birthday and I was ready for my practical, the next and final step to getting my full licence, being a qualified driver and being on the road unsupervised.

In November last year I was in a particularly dark place when I found out I had to cancel my booked January driving test as I didn’t meet the required standard for vision, despite previously believing I was able to read the number plate without a lens. I was really struggling with the prospect of not being able to drive, it felt overwhelmingly tough with every visit to the eye hospital ending with bad/unclear news. I’m surprised I didn’t have a breakdown! Meanwhile my brother was learning and passed his practical test first time, and although I was pleased for him I was really broken inside.

In March, I got an RGP lens. This is, at times, very uncomfortable – it took a while to get used to, and that still didn’t guarantee to get my sight up to the legal requirement. Shortly after my marathon success in April, the lens was a tiny bit more bearable and I got the prescription altered. Although I doubted it all along, I read a registration plate from 20 metres! I think that because I didn’t want the crushing devastation again of thinking I could drive, then not being able to, my mind was preventing me from believing it right up until my first practical driving test in July. I’d practiced a lot along the areas roads and although I felt sick with nerves, I was prepared.

On the whole the first test went really well; I did the manoeuvre perfectly and the general driving was good with only a few faults. Probably due to nerves, I got slightly too close to a car near a roundabout and had to brake quite suddenly. Although I remained calm I kind of knew I’d failed from that point and I was right. I also made the mistake of telling everyone I had the test beforehand, which I now know is never a good idea. It put unneeded added pressure on me to pass, and I had to let everyone know the result afterwards.

The second test was pretty much a nightmare from the start. The preferred parking position threw me, the waiting room was silent and horrible, then I ended up with a particularly unfriendly examiner who took a disliking to me from the start when I was a bit vague. Because I was so nervous and I have a bit of difficulty with processing what people have said sometimes anyway, when he asked me a question I wasn’t expecting I wasn’t sure what to say and said the wrong thing, which he didn’t take too well. I made quite a few silly little minors as I just felt sick throughout the drive, as uncomfortable as you could be on a driving test. On an unfamiliar road, I was going at the speed limit and I didn’t anticipate a sharp bend ahead until too late, so needless to say I failed again. I felt so deflated after my second failure, more so than my first, but I managed to get another test within a couple of weeks exactly.

This was it. I was determined this time would be different. Unless I had to do the reverse bay park, then I would have probably failed! My usual rescue pastilles were there, the same ones I’d used for my previous tests. There seemed to be a more relaxed atmosphere beforehand this time, people chatting and music playing from a radio. There was just a good vibe, the complete opposite of last time. I’m so relieved I ended up with the nicest examiner you could probably get. I had a bit of a nightmare at the beginning with the independent driving, basically not being independent at all as I kept indicating the wrong way and nearly going the wrong way. This never happened before; it was either a particularly dyspraxic moment, or nerves, or likely both. I was convinced I failed on that as she kept having to direct me. I met some idiot on the road who beeped at me for no reason, and she made a lighthearted joke about it which reassured me. Throughout the drive she really made an effort to calm me a bit as I told her I was nervous. She chatted to me about what I was doing, if this was my first test, and a few other things. Something inside me allowed me to blurt out about my other tests and I talked to her quite a lot. I honestly think this made a massive difference. You can’t choose the examiner you get, but it’s a huge help and I was able to drive better than I ever had done before because of it. When I pulled back into the test centre I seriously thought it could have gone either way. When she said not only had I passed but that I’d only made three minors I felt on top of the world; it’s indescribable. Over the moon is an understatement. I knew it, but I found it amazing to hear her say ‘you can drive unsupervised from now on, independently.’ She said she knew how much it meant to me, which I know was her being friendly, but she has no idea about my rollercoaster ride with driving!

Lots of messages poured in throughout the day and I can honestly say I haven’t felt this happy and relieved for ages. I’m going to be looking at car deals and I hope it won’t be long before I get my little red car that I’ve been dreaming of for so long! Obviously I would’ve preferred to pass first or second time, but I’ve had much more experience on the roads now so I feel ready to be independent, perhaps more than if I had passed first time. I wish I could have known a few months ago that there would be light at the end of the tunnel, that it would all be ok, that I would be able to drive soon. That would have saved me a lot of suffering! I do have to wear a hard lens which isn’t nice, but at the moment I don’t care about that. It’s allowed me to drive! I seriously never thought this day would come, what a rollercoaster of a journey it’s been since 2015!

No more checking the DVSA website for earlier tests all day every day, no more L plates, no more horrible tests. FREEDOM!

Here’s to independence!

Thank you for the optometrists at the hospital for their patience and not giving up, thank you to my parents for teaching me to drive, thank you to my family and friends for all the support and thank you everyone else for all the messages!

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What a good excuse to get on the prosecco!

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The odd one out

Throughout my life, and perhaps even more so now I’m getting older and people around me are changing and doing different things, I’ve always felt like the odd one out. I’m always aware that I’m the different one in a group of family/friends/acquaintances, and this creates barriers in communication, mainly expressing myself verbally, as mentioned in my last blog post. Being the odd one, the one who never fits in, the weird one, makes me feel quite isolated and makes me crave normality.

Everyone around me seems to be moving on with their lives; creating friendships, relationships and having the time of their lives at university – all my age group have either gone or are going next month. This feels quite difficult for me, as I always wish that’s what I was doing. The normal route. Since leaving school, my life has turned upside down compared to what I was expecting – finishing a level 3 diploma at college after two years, having a year off then going to university this year to do a degree -instead, it’s been very tough at times.

Whilst I know I’ll probably get the option of going, and I’m already considering a Foundation Degree at University in 2018, I’m still unsure that this would be the right route for me; I’ve never been academic, couldn’t contemplate A levels, and college wasn’t for me, so chances are university might not be either. It might be a disaster like both of my college experiences. On the other hand, it could be all that I’m hoping for; making friends, happiness, a clear direction, and I could actually succeed. I don’t know. I’m going to go to the open day with an open mind and just see where the next year takes me, as there could be alternative and maybe better options as well.

For once, when people ask me what I’m doing, I don’t want to feel awkward and not know what to say. I want to be able to have a clear answer and I want to tell them with pride, enjoying whatever that is. It’s hard when people around you discuss their student lives and plans, when you’re not where you want to be and you have no idea. My low self esteem makes me constantly think that whoever I meet doesn’t like me for whatever reason, maybe because they think I’m boring or I can’t talk much around them. This goes for my different path in life as well; I assume that people belittle me and think I’m useless because I’m not going to university when everyone else is. I believe this too; that I’m worthless, stupid, will never find my niche. Loneliness, anxiety and overthinking makes me believe I’ll never make any friends, will never get into any kind of relationship, no one will ever like me because of being different. I often feel like a burden to everyone, that I’m not worthy of happiness or any of these things.

Social media is usually a good thing, but I don’t think it’s been great to my mental health recently; on A level results day I saw amazing results and university offers on various sites, and this just adds to my feelings of isolation, hopelessness and stupidity even more. It creates the illusion that everyone else is loving life and they have complete happiness, which of course isn’t true, but sometimes it does seem like that from my point of view.

Verbal dyspraxia can be a very lonely and frustrating condition, and when you sometimes struggle with self esteem and mental health, which is highly likely linked to it, it’s even harder to think positively and have faith that everything will work out in the end.

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I frequently feel like this!

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Tonight I can feel a low mood creeping in again, since I’ve started to feel all these things. I know I have to take charge of the black dog and to not let it overwhelm me. This is the time I need to be active by carrying on the training for the half marathon in October, as well as spending time doing things I enjoy and looking after myself, which will hopefully help. Autumn and winter are always horrible for me, evidently being a sufferer of SAD, so I need to find ways to stay in control of my mood and feel good when the summer comes to an end.

 

When the words won’t come out

Dyspraxia has a lot of traits, and no two people with the condition are the same; therefore it’s a difficult thing to describe to people who don’t know a lot about it. The typical symptoms people seem to pinpoint in sufferers are fine and gross motor skills, perception, memory, coordination and balance, which are true and some of these do affect me, but there is a lot of misconception surrounding dyspraxia – people mistakingly assuming just because one person with dyspraxia can’t drive a manual car, that all dyspraxics won’t be able to, for example. One thing that I’ve never seen much about is the social side of dyspraxia, which frustrates me as that’s definitely my biggest struggle in living with the lifelong condition daily. All the information I have seen about verbal dyspraxia also seems to be about children suffering from it, no mention of adults, when it is actually a lifelong condition.

Living with verbal dyspraxia isn’t easy. Being really self conscious of your voice and constantly worrying what people will think when you talk, every day, feels debilitating. Being so aware of my voice being different as I’m getting older has created more barriers, such as an anxiety disorder with speaking, which is a whole other subject.

This type of dyspraxia makes communication hard even without a weird voice. It’s not just about the difficulty of pronouncing certain words or sounds; starting and joining in with conversations is always a challenge with people who aren’t family. This results in frequently getting left behind in a conversation, or left out completely. Imagine knowing exactly what it is you want to say, actually having a lot to say, but not being able to get it out due to the messages from the brain to the mouth being disrupted. I want to be as chatty as everyone else but I can’t. Everyone else my age has no problem and takes these things for granted, but I wish I found it as easy as them. Although I have improved and I’m constantly trying my best to improve more, initiating conversations is something I have always struggled with, and then I worry about what people think of me when I can’t say much in response. I also feel like a burden, and like I’m stupid. Everyone will just think I’m really boring with nothing to talk about, and will assume I’m just quiet when there’s so much more to it than that.

The fact that it affects my speech and communication skills, makes me really worried about the future. Who would want to employ someone who has these difficulties? Who would even want to be my friend?

The positives to this, although I frequently don’t like who I am and I wish I was normal, with a normal voice like everyone else, is that it makes me resilient, tenacious, determined. It makes me who I am. As I’d possibly like to work with young people with special needs, empathy is a attribute that cannot be undervalued, and could possibly be regarded as a good thing.

 

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Low Self Esteem

I usually don’t blog about my mental health. I have a private notebook I write in when I’m upset which gives me some relief and insight into how I’m feeling; I’ve never felt comfortable sharing it all with twitter. For some random reason tonight I’ve got an urge to write about it in a blog format. Obviously if I decide to write more about mental health, I’ll want to maintain some detail about certain things to myself and won’t be sharing it all with the public, but my experiences might just encourage others to talk about it too.

Today I had a bad day and I can’t pinpoint exactly why. There’s been no clear explanation as to why I’ve felt so negatively about myself recently, particularly as I had such a great weekend. It started on Sunday evening when I was feeling a bit low about everything, probably slightly apprehensive about another boring week on my own. As a result I didn’t sleep until about 2am, repetitive thoughts keeping me up, which consequently affected my energy levels. Feeling tired all day certainly didn’t help. I felt tearful on and off pretty much all of today, as I’m really lacking in self confidence.

Bad days like these usually don’t happen to me anymore – instead thankfully being occasional; so when they do I feel a bit scared I’m going back to the dark days. Despite lacking in motivation to do anything, I did have a nice walk in the countryside and then took my dog round the park which helped at the time. Being busy is key for me; I can’t stress how important it is personally, particularly when I’m low, so when I find myself having nothing to do, it affects my mood. I feel irritable and everything seems worse than it is.

Self esteem is something I’ve struggled with for years. Accepting myself and loving myself for who I am is something I find difficult to do. I often feel like I don’t like who I am; I don’t like having a weird voice and not being able to talk to people much, being the weird one who always gets left out and not managing things most other people can. Often I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere, and I always find myself constantly worrying about what others think of me. I know I shouldn’t care, but I’m sensitive and I do. Every single person I meet, I worry about coming across as weird, rude etc and find my mind worrying that they don’t like me, racing negative thoughts.

Today my mind kept telling me that I was useless, worthless, stupid, couldn’t do anything right, a burden, no one liked me and just about any negative thought about yourself you could think of. To make things worse and even harder to challenge, there have been times in my life where some of these things appear to have been proven true. For example, at college no one liked me. I struggled to complete a simple course. It was a disaster. It’s hard not to listen to these thoughts when they’ve been right before, and you can’t think of much evidence that goes against them.

I’ve got some placements lined up, which is great as being bored at home is contributing to this low mood and lack of self esteem, I’m sure, and being busy will keep me happier. But at the same time, I’ve all of a sudden lost confidence and really don’t feel like I can do it. They won’t like me, I won’t like it, I’ll be useless and a burden to them. This thought pattern is weird. The thought pattern is like this with a few other things present in my life at the moment too.

Everyone my age has either gone or is going to university in September. I’m sure that will be me one day if I decide I want to go, but they’ve all followed the same route; A levels, perhaps a year off etc. It makes me feel pathetic that I only just completed part time a simple college course. I’m thinking that everything I’m planning to do next year is stupid and not as valid.

To add to my current anxieties, my driving test is coming up next week. I know it’s perfectly normal to be nervous, but I’m finding myself doubting every little minor thing I do that could be counted as a minor in the test; I’m obsessing over every little thing that I’m unsure about or that I’m not confident with. I’m even worried about the Show Me Tell Me questions, and that’s if I pass the vision test. It’s all a big worry. Most people don’t pass first time and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t; I need to get it into perspective a bit more.

One thing I’ve learnt about mental health recently is that there’s no way of predicting when you will and won’t feel low. A few months ago I assumed that in July I’d be completely happy, everything would be perfect, all my troubles would be far away. It doesn’t work like that. Summer, and in particular July, is my favourite month and season, but even then you can still feel down. Just like any other illness, there’s no way of telling when it will suddenly make an appearance. It hits you often when you least expect it. Similarly, in the past I’ve assumed my low mood and anxiety would almost take a break for Christmas and I’d be cheerful throughout the festive season, but December has proved to be one of the worst months for me in the past, excluding some days of course!

I don’t know what’s wrong with me now. I almost feel like I don’t have a right to be low as I’ve got so much to be positive about, so much to look forward to. I feel guilty as I had such a fun weekend and this has come on all of a sudden. I should be happy, I’m going on holiday in a couple of weeks! Fighting with your mind all day is a pretty exhausting business. I need to challenge these issues in some way and address the negative self talk I give myself often.

I hope writing and tweeting this will help me a bit, and if it helps others going through similar things that’s a bonus. I really believe in the power of talking about it to break the stigma surrounding the subject. I do find it incredibly hard to do so, particularly to people close to me, but it does help if I feel I can.

I’ve found the ‘Unhelpful thinking’ and ‘Low Confidence’ podcasts on the NHS Moodzone website helpful and insightful. I think I’ll try to use some of the strategies outlined to tackle these feelings.

How To Pass Your Driving Theory Test

I never thought I’d be giving advice on passing the driving theory test for cars, let alone any type of test! To start with, I’m rubbish at exams. I’ve never been academic and I’ve never really been good at exams/tests. Secondly, I’m dyspraxic so I previously worried that I’d never be able to drive, especially not a manual car which I’m learning on. When I started driving I dreaded the theory. To start with I found some parts quite hard to remember, and I struggled with motivation to put in the work as I found it so boring, so here are my tips with motivation/revision and how to pass! I’m proud to say I passed second time, it’s a great achievement for me.

(Obviously everyone is different, so the ways people revise are also different. What works for an individual may not work for another, so it’s not the easiest thing to advise people on what’s best as there’s no right or wrong) but I can share some ideas.

1. Highlight and break it down!

With a big chunk of information that you need to learn (stopping distances for me) it can feel a bit daunting. I wrote them down and highlighted them so they were more noticeable and caught my eye every time I was in my room. The brighter colour the better! Then, I broke the distances down and concentrated on one at a time so it wasn’t so overwhelming to learn. This made it much more manageable and easier to remember. I made sure I learnt that one off by heart before I moved onto the next one. The time it takes to learn one may take some time, but that’s ok; there’s no rush!

2. Online revision 

It helped me to revise online for a bit every day, and not do too much at once; one test each time is fine. There are a lot of great mock tests that are just like the real thing online, in particular I highly recommend toptests.co.uk. They have lots of tests and some of the questions on there actually appear on the real test. When you get an answer wrong, it fully explains why it was the other answer and it tests you on the ones you got wrong again in the ‘Challenge Bank.’ You can also get it as an app for your phone, perfect for when you’re on the go. Strangely, this website actually made me more motivated to revise as it’s really quick and easy to do each test, and every time I wanted to get 100% which made it a fun challenge! I seriously don’t think I could have passed without it, it was my saviour!

Hazard perception clips are also online, and I kept going over these. To start with, I kept failing these. I failed my first theory test on the hazard perception by 3 marks as I hadn’t practiced these enough; I’d just concentrated on the theory. Each time I did the hazard perception online, my score improved and I understood what to look out for more.

3. Concentrate on both parts of the test

As I’ve mentioned above, I didn’t concentrate on the hazard perception as much the first time. This is probably because I assumed it would be easy, but it’s actually quite hard to spot potential hazards to the developing hazards, which is what you’re scored on. So make sure you go over these clips as well as revising for the theory!

4. Write notes down and go over them 

Every question I got wrong online, I wrote down and highlighted the points I needed to remember. Then I went over them every day and the next time that question came up on the mock test, I got it right. Don’t just learn the answer though; you need to understand why it’s the particular answer to get a better understanding and to theoretically pass.

5. Don’t take the test before you’re ready

It seems obvious, but don’t take it if you don’t think you’re ready. You have plenty of time, there’s no rush, so take it slowly. It’s better to take your time to learn it all so you’re confident you’ll pass than to rush in before you’re ready and fail. It’s a lot of money, you don’t want to waste it if you can avoid it. Before you take the test, you should be passing at least most of the mock tests you take, if not all. If you don’t rush in and you’re genuinely ready and you still fail, which was the case for me, it’s just bad luck, which leads onto the next point.

6. Remind yourself why you’re doing this 

To help with motivation, remind yourself of why you’re taking the theory test and learning to drive in the first place. Remind yourself of your future plans, getting a car etc. To be able to drive you need to pass your theory test before you go onto the practical test; they’re all little steps to your goal. Without doing this boring theory bit, you won’t be able to drive. Reminding yourself of why you’re doing it, what you want to achieve in the future and even giving yourself little rewards for remaining focused on your revision every so often, can all help.

7. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail and stay positive!

Most people actually fail first time. You could be passing every test online but still fail the actual test, there’s no guarantee you’ll pass just because you’ve passed every other time. It’s luck of the questions on the day; usually there’s at least one you’ve never seen before and have no idea what the answer is. (If this happens, don’t panic, they’re not all like that!) If you fail, don’t automatically think you’re stupid and go down on yourself. It’s normal to fail anything, especially first time-even the brightest people do, we’re only human. Hopefully, if you keep the revision up, you’ll pass next time and if not, no matter how many times you have to retake it, you’ll do it eventually. You will get there. Good for you for not giving up! Keep trying, you can do it! Stay positive and imagine how happy you’ll be when you do pass. Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can. Without failure, the taste of success wouldn’t be so sweet!

Good luck!!

 

 

 

 

 

A new year, a new term at college

The Christmas holidays are over and it’s back to college. That means back to work, back to placement, back to tiredness, back to frustration, back to stress.

Despite dreading going back, I’m looking forward to raising more awareness of dyspraxia at college. I have briefly started my powerpoint, which I am going to present to my class about the struggles that I face and what the condition is to hopefully raise much needed awareness and understanding. I’m also going to sell dyspraxia wristbands for charity at college in a couple of weeks.

As the new term commences, I know I’ll feel stressed by the big workload again. I’ll also feel frustrated and down about certain things, but my resolution is to be more tenacious. I need to be strong, motivated, determined and hard working to achieve what I want. Previously, I went through a phase of dwelling on the negative aspects of college last term as a result of being so down. However, I can’t change the past so there isn’t any point dwelling on it. I need to accept it, move on and put my best effort in.

I hope 2015 will be a successful year. I really hope I achieve all my goals and the grades I want. It will be challenging but I’m going to get on with it.

Everyone underestimating me will be proved wrong!

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Sleeping; something to help

Being dyspraxic, I’ve always had difficulties with sleeping, hence I have medication for it. I worry and stress over a lot, and there’s a few things in life that I’m down and frustrated about. Aren’t we all? However, I’ve recently discovered something that really helps me to relax and go to sleep which others might benefit from; something called visualisation.

On YouTube, there are many guided visualisations. Personally, the beach ones make me the most relaxed. You have the opportunity to escape to somewhere else for a while, somewhere amazing, and it’s worry free. A chance to forget about all your problems and frustrations for a while. I’ve always dreamed about going to the Maldives, so I imagine the guided visualisation on the beach to be there. Imagining every detail of what you can see, hear and what you’re doing there helps you to unwind and sleep. It focuses and concentrates your mind on somewhere relaxing

Additionally, there is a great book I have full of visualisations of different scenarios to read before bed which also help me to relax, particularly if I feel stressed/down about something. It’s aimed at children but I’m 16 and also find it extremely beneficial. Adults can also benefit from it.

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I never thought visualisation would work when I first tried it, but by the end of the video when I really feel like I’m on the beach, I almost go to sleep! It’s been a great discovery for me. This relaxation technique probably won’t work for everyone, but I recommend trying it