We neurotypicals are so used to interpreting behavior and body language a certain way, that our dyspraxic children are commonly if not constantly misunderstood. Just the other day Peter was in the bathroom when his physical therapist arrived. Peter was within earshot when I casually told the physical therapist, “Oh, since Peter’s in the bathroom, perhaps you can talk with Teddy (Peter’s big brother) about physical therapy. He has some questions.” Half an hour later when Peter finally emerged, I said in exasperation, “Peter, let’s get going! Your lesson is half over, and we haven’t even started!” Later I thought I should have been more patient because he probably had been feeling catatonic, and may have been doing his best to move along. I asked Peter. He typed in reply, ” i did not get going. i stayyed in the bathhroom ffor a longg timre because you were all talkiing having an important conversation, good for teddy (about) physical terapy. i earnestly hope he makes it.” I realized I had misunderstood my child, not once but twice. First I assumed willfulness and then I assumed dyspraxia. What I failed to guess were his true, exceptionally thoughtful intentions.
The other day, Peter and I were engaging in one of our favorite hobbies, writing poetry. As a game I invited him to write a poem pretending to be any animal he feels either he shares characteristics with, or wishes he had characteristics of.
Mom: So the title is: “If I were a….”
Peter: Sea Otter
blue green sea splashes against my siddes.
i feel the cold waves lifting my body up and down, to and fro.
i feel the warm sun on my face.
the fine delight of fun before me
a dayfull quickly comes and goes
rolling on the waves
my body agile, responsive, quick
Juggling demands of the sea wwith my own hopes
hearing it roar as i clap another sea treasjure against ,my chest
and take a bite.
Of all the animals he could have chosen, Peter chose the one with “a body agile, responsive, quick.” It must be painfully hard for our children to live with dyspraxia. After fifteen years of experience, Peter has proven to me time and time again that he tries his very best. Yet the deep longing in his heart is to be better than his best. That’s one assumption I firmly believe I can make.