To make sure this post isn’t too long, I will be splitting the effects of dyspraxia on concentration into two aspects. The physical and the cognitive.
Trying to find literature on concentration and dyspraxia has been difficult! Everywhere I looked I only read that dyspraxics have bad concentration and there was nothing more on the subject. I don’t think this represents the complexity of this struggle. People with dyspraxia aren’t just bad at concentrating. We have to concentrate more on the little things that others take for granted and we end up having little energy to spare for the important things.
Dyspraxia has an enormous negative effect on concentration. It can sometimes be difficult to be patient with a child who has dyspraxia or, for those with it, to be patient with themselves. Why can’t we just focus and concentrate instead of getting distracted and zoning out?! In today’s post I will try to explain some of the physical effects of dyspraxia on my concentration. Hopefully this will lead to better understanding, which in turn will lead to better patience and practice of concentration.
We know that for DCD the physical aspects of life are predominantly difficult. Someone with dyspraxia will struggle with their coordination, balance and spatial awareness. This is due to the combined difficulties of having poor muscle development, the brain signals to the muscles being jumbled and not having good muscle memory. These aspects can negatively affect someone’s concentration since it takes more effort to control each movement.
From my own experience, just sitting on a chair can need my whole attention so that I don’t fall off. In lectures I found that others could sit and focus on what the lecturer was saying. However, any movement I made, however small, to shift my weight and become comfortable, would mean I had to focus all of my concentration on the movement and the balance of my body and limbs. I didn’t want to fall off my chair just because I decide to uncross my legs, but it did mean that I missed what the lecturer said.
When I had just been diagnosed and had a speech therapist, my mother was told to ensure I was sitting correctly when doing my work. This consisted of making sure my feet were flat on the floor, with the use of the yellow pages if the chair was too high, and making sure I sat straight in my chair. Although it wasn’t explicitly explained, these measures were there to ensure my centre of balance was correct and I didn’t get distracted by having to stay on my chair.
Sitting on a chair is probably the easiest thing to do. If I find that difficult and I don’t even struggle with the physical side of dyspraxia as much as other dyspraxics, every other physical activity is going to be a challenge. Take, for instance, walking. Easy enough I guess. You only need to put one foot in front of the other, but what happens when you have poor muscle development, which leads to poor coordination? Well, your feet are going to be walking on top of each other instead.
It can be funny to some how a dyspraxic can trip over flat ground. For the dyspraxic it can be dangerous. I have fractured my ankle just walking and sprained them countless times when I was younger and playing with my friends. This will cause the person with dyspraxia to concentrate more on their movement because they don’t want to hurt or embarrass themselves. Since they are thinking more about their own movement, they will be less aware of what is happening around them.
Due to having bad muscle memory, writing is another time I have to use all of my concentration. It starts with having to focus on the words that I need to write. Then I have to ensure my hand makes the right movements to produce the correct letters. This acculmanates in me being a very slow writer. Where others only have to think of the sentence and their hand does the rest, I sometimes have to write the same word or sentence a few times before my hand gets the right letters or words.
All of this is part of the reason why you cannot expect someone with dyspraxia to multi-task. Just doing the one task has multiple aspects to concentrate on. It’s tiring having to concentrate so much to make your limbs do what you want just to fit in and be safe in an environment.
Tune in next week for my post about how the mental side of dyspraxia can affect someone’s concentration. Also, please leave a comment below if you or someone close to you has to struggle to concentrate on their own movements and how this affects them.
My best wishes for all of you.