Dyspraxia and Running

When people hear that I am a Dyspraxic a normal response is but you run. It almost appears to some that having  no coordination issues means I cant run.

To me running is very important for a number of reasons.

    1. It is my me time
    2. Its helps clear my head
    3. It keeps me fit
    4. It gives me something to aim for
    5. It is a social outlet

Not included in the above list but an important one when running a race or with my club im just Philip, no body sees the dyspraxia.

Certain aspects of the dyspraxia will appear but with proper training you can learn to deal with them. I dont think i will ever get use to being stuck in the middle of a large crowd. This makes staying near the pacers at large event very annoying. I either stay just in front of them and try to keep them within a certain distance but out of sight out of mind I have run to fast before by not looking back often enough. If I hang behind the pacers there is always the worry they cut the time to tight and I miss the target.

Running around a track is not very good for me as I tend to get bored easily and my pace will always suffer. So my new game weather on track or road is pick someone ahead of concentrate on catching them. This way i tend to forget i am running a track or course and concentrate on the person im chasing. Just be careful who you pick I made the mistake a few years a go picking a young lady to try and catch during a race. Turns out she was an underage international runner. She took gold that day, I kept with her for about 1400m and needed to lie on the ground for 20 minutes after to recover.

Spacial awareness would be another impact that would always impact. I have on a few occasions tried to go around someone in a race and misjudged distance and ended up running into them instead, During one race I went on a mound on the side to go around someone and hop off the top and fall onto them knocking us both to the ground. Not the best way to make friends.

Waterstops are my bain during races. I am yet to master the whole running while drinking from a cup skill (bottles I can just master after 5 years). In most races I tend to pull in have my drink and continue. Its safer but I lose 10-15 seconds per stop over a marathon that can add up to a few minutes and cost you a PB.

Training plans can be very fun. With me the KISS principal is golden. Keep it simple. Doing my intervals with a club is handy as a run to the whistle and follow the crowd. Doing sessions where pace and distance changes a few time will never work. I get confused quite often.

Facebook tells me I ran first competitive 5k race 6 years ago today. I ran 28:07 that day. Somehow I am yet to trip over myself during the race which is a real achievement I think.

Overall I dont mind dealing with the few small issues above as overall running has given me a lot over the years and hopefully for more years to come.

Running is nice i believe for people with learning difficulties as most races and parkrun cater for everyone so even if you are finishing down the field its you race and no one else. You are only there for what you can see what it is worth to you. If that is completing couch to 5k, running 100 parkruns or wearing your country singlet there is someone thing for everyone.

As ever if you have any feedback on the above you can tweet me @pslattery2014. If you are dyspraxic and run do you agree or disagree with the above.

Running weekending 15th July

This week has it all work was the quite part of the week.

Monday- In a rare treat I actually got a easy run in on Monday, I got 7.2k covered in 50 minute easy run which was a nice way to de-stress

Tuesday- I went to do my normal interval training at the club but was unaware the training time had moved. I arrive just before 7.30 to find the session half over. As a result I did 3x 5 minutes with the group and 3 on my own. My watch also decided not to charge for me, as a result the 3 on my own where timed using old fashion methods of a stop watch on my phone. For distance I was trying to get to the same finish point each time.

Thursday- was a 36 minute runmute. I got a day of green lights here so my pace was a little faster then normal. I got 7.3k covered in 4.46 average pace. I am really enjoying the runmutes and look forward to them each Thursday. Not so sure the person who gets to sit beside me on the bus afterwards thinks the same way.

Saturday- Was a tale of two 5k runs. In the morning I ventured back to Dundalk for parkrun as the VHI was in town. In the afternoon it was back to Leixlip for pop up races day of Irish pb’s. The plan for parkrun was to go easy so I had plenty in the tank for the race in Leixlip. I went off nice and gentle for the first km. I looked down at my watch to see I was doing a 4 minute km pace. Little fast than I had been planning. I slowed down a little and David Gillick caught up with me. I decided to pace of him for a while and let me push me on. I stuck with him the about the end of the 2nd lap. Here a few fell back, he slowed to encourage them along so I stayed at my pace and continued on. I crossed the finish for 12th and a time of 21:45.

dundalkpr

3 buses and 3 mile run after Dundalk I arrived at the track for event number two. I signed in and cheered on the runners in the 23/24 minute groups. Once they finished I went for a quick warm up and headed to the starting line. I stayed with the pacer for the first 7 laps keeping him very close but after that I lost a little steam. The drifted from starting around 1:38 per 400m to a 1:45 on lap 10 being my slowest. For the final lap I decided to leave it all on the track. I sped up from the moment I heard the bell. As I came around the final bend, I saw 20:40 on the clock and turned into Usain Bolt to get under 21 minutes. Thanks to a 1:28:59 final 400 I made the sub 21 in a time of 20:28:01.
dayofPBPBFL

Till next week if you aint enjoying it; you aint doing it right.

Dyspraxia and Dating

Dating and Dyspraxia

Dating someone with Dyspraxia can seem like a challenge, it can be worse for the person with Dyspraxia.

Two issue I find myself in general but are highlighted more on the dating scene are:

  1. I don’t show emotion, and
  2. Can find it very hard to read social situations.

I always look at the time my brother in law asked me to be one of his groomsmen. I turned away from the TV I was watching said someone like “great” or “l’d love to” and went back to watching the TV. My sister gave out that I seemed so nonchalant about it as if he has simple asked me what the time was. That example shows both the emotion and social situations issue.

A dating example I can give is recently I was messaging a girl and during the conversation, she suggested we meet up and go for a walk. Due to her getting sick, the walk became a trip to the pub. As I left for the pub I had no idea if it was a date or simply friends meeting up. As we were in the pub I was trying to read the sign to try to figure out if it was a date or not.  In the end, I had to make a move and hope I had read it right. Luckily that night I did read it right but I would consider that a fluke.

On the body language and environmental things. I cannot tell the difference between someone being friendly and someone being into me as the above example shows. As a result, I have missed signals from girls who like me or left it too late to do anything about it. I have made moves on girls who were not interested in me. This is one I don’t think will get better with age. Pretty much in this area it is the blunter you can be with me the better.

Finding a place for a date can be a challenge. Similar to most with Dyspraxia I have sensory issues places with crowds or a lot of background noise can be no go zone. Unluckily for me the Irish dating scene appears to revolve around the local pub or nightclub. If you manage to get a date in a restaurant, the fun part is trying to find food that I cannot put over yourself. When I was younger, I used to have issues using knives and forks, which could have made this kind of date very dodgy if it was still the case.

I  tend at the moment to try for dates in coffee shops as they normally have very low background music so I can still hear and understand my date but also very rare to have crowds in them.

When talking to someone with dyspraxia we can be a little show at processing information so can take time to answer back. When processing the information I tend to have a blank look on my face as all my energy is being used to process what was said. That blank look can be mistaken for disinterest, boredom, or even shyness. With me, I can break the list of people who know me into two groups the ones that cannot make me talk and the ones who cannot get me to shut up.  Both sides are confused that the other side exists.

My dates rarely go past the first date as it is normally the cant speak Philip who tends to show up. If I get a first date where I’m actually able to talk that a very good sign for how comfortable I am around the person I am on the date with.

The unwritten rules of dating make it even more fun. After a first date when do you text the person? When do you ask about a second date? How much should you text between dates?  Trying to figure these items out is mind field for most let along someone who struggles to figure out body language and social norms.

If things do progress onto date 3 or 4 or even a relationship develops the issue can be even more fun. I like most people with dyspraxia enjoy my quite time. I use to allow my mind to relax, turno off or perhaps think about the day .

As a result I find it very hard to date someone who wants to texts or talks all the time. Allowing people with Dyspraxia to have “me time” is very important. Dyspraxic don’t appear to stim or at least I don’t in the same way people with Autism do. To me this quite reflecting time is my release.

I have spoken about in earlier blogs about how sleep is another important item. With me I am a very routine person with regards to sleep to ensure I get enough. I have had times when its my bed time and that it even if the other half wanted to watch a dvd or talk.

Commutation is important in any relationship but even more so if one of the people in the couple has Dyspraxia. We tend to spend time in our own  little world or bubble for a number of reasons. Assuming why we do this can lead to issues. In the words of Homer Simpson assumption is the first step to getting it wrong. If you work with and talk to each other it will not be an issue. For example if you know that every night at 8 o clock my phone gets turn off to help my mind shut down and improve my sleep. You know why a text sent a 9 o clock is not answered. Dyspraxic’s pepoel tend to be very loyal, trustworthy and romantic when they are allowed be themselves.

I tend not to carry much cash and tend to use my debit card instead. There is two reason for this, one is losing a card is not  as permanent in the way losing cash is. I also have a record of where I spent the money so I can figure out where it is has all gone. If someone does not ask why or understand why I don’t carry cash it may come across either of two extremes. Either I believe it’s the man’s jobs to pay for the food or drink. The other answer may appear that I use a card for small items in hope the other person offers to pay cash and I get it for free. I have had more than one relationship end for these reasons.  Some of the above are simple examples of how a person with dyspraxia tries to or may have issues with the world we live in today. Explaining this fully is not a blog but a phd as a result it is not for me.

If you end up dating someone with a specific learning difficulty try to learn about it and work with them on it rather than seeing it as an issue. The benefits will out weight the downsides

Guest post from www.supporttobeme.com/blog

Guest Post- The Dyspraxic Tax Consultant @pslattery2014

You have heard about the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker. Now we have the Doctor, the midwife and the tax consultant. It might not have the same ring to it but it’s still worth reading about. Following on from the recent guest post by @Hermionemidwife, I would also like to thank @dyspraxicdoctor for allowing this guest blog. I would like to introduce myself, my name is Philip @pslattery2014 to the twitterverse. I am 32 year old tax consultant based in Dublin Ireland. When not helping people rob the taxman I am normally running around West Dublin or North Kildare. I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia when I was 12. Up until that point, teachers kept saying it was a phase. At the time I was diagnosed with dyspraxia the report mentioned a hint of dyslexia, over the years a few have seen touches of Asperger’s, but neither the Dyslexia or Asperger’s have been confirmed.
 
I do not believe that dyspraxia has stopped me doing anything in life; I work to the motto nothing is impossible it only takes longer. After 18 years working in some form or another the only task I have been given that I have not been able to complete is changing the labels on a pricing gun. Since that task will likely not stop me one day becoming a Tax Director or Tax Partner it moves from a being challenge to the butt of a joke.
 
While dyspraxia has not stopped doing anything, it has given some challenges. For one, I have a dire short-term memory. I can tell you who scored the winning goal for Man Utd in the 1996 FA Cup final but if I am sent upstairs for get four items, I will come down with three items and will not remember being asked to get the fourth item.
 
My organisational skills are somewhat non-existent but I have tried to build in methods to help this. Task planning with Microsoft Outlook is a god send. My normal thinking is: what I am looking for is in that pile over there. I also tend to keep a lot of files near me as otherwise I won’t remember where they are.
 
Driving was one task that as an adult with dyspraxia was a real challenge, I realised very quickly that a manual car was not for me and swapped to an automatic. It took me three attempts but I did finally pass my driving test.
 
One other area where dyspraxia can affect people, and one of my weakest points, is social skills. I always find it hard to operate in crowds or anywhere with loud noise. If I am in a small group of up to three or four I can cope but anything larger I feel out of place especially as separate conversations start up. On my second day in my current job the trainees were going out for drinks and someone invited me along, my response was “I don’t drink I don’t do noise”. I came across like a twat but certainly that was not what I meant to do. 
 
@Hermionemidwife mentioned that sleep is an important thing for someone with Dyspraxia; I would second this point. I would describe my energy levels like a battery pack that requires 8 hours of charging a night. If I don’t get the eight hours the effects can be seen the next day. As a result of this in work I need to plan my tasks to ensure that the tougher or mentally tough tasks are done early in the day when I have the concentration levels. Otherwise the level of work produced will suffer the more drained I am. To aid with this I have also found ways to do certain tasks on auto pilot. These are the simpler tasks that I would do a number of times a day like walking to the photocopier or walking from the bus stop to my house. Here I can conserve a little bit of energy that is more needed doing other tasks during the day. 
 
What positives has Dyspraxia given me? For one, the way I think or look at something is different to most people and as a result I tend to see stuff that others have missed. In the world of tax that is a very good club to have in your bag. I also tend to be a lot more patient with people as a lot of patience was given to me when I was learning. So I am only returning the favour.
 
If someone was to ask me would Dyspraxia stop him or her doing anything in life I would say no. You can achieve anything that you put your mind to. Dyspraxia is not the death sentence that it once was. The days are long gone of a parent asking me about Dyspraxia limiting someone’s life. If you are in doubt look at Daniel Radcliffe or Florence Welch, who are both dyspraxic.
 
I hope that over time we can get a few more guest posts on this blog to show and reinforce the points I have made above- that you can do anything once you put your mind to it.
 
What would be my top tips for people with dyspraxia?
1. Ensure you get your 8 hours sleep
2. Have a good diet
3. Have an escape
 
The above three will help with your energy levels. When I talk about having an escape this is something you enjoy doing. For me it is running, whether going for an easy 5K or trying to break 3.30 for a marathon. I also find Toastmasters a great escape as it’s one place where no part of my dyspraxia is showing and it allows me to be myself in the speeches I give (tax saving, mental health, parkrun and supermarket psychology are some of my recent ones). The escape releases happy chemicals into your body and these help with sleeping and your energy levels.
 
4. Be positive: This applies to everyone – the reason I have done everything I have aimed to do is that my parents never said I could not do something because I’m dyspraxic. I believe in removing the word ‘can’t’ from your vocab as nothing good can come from it.
5. The only person you should be is yourself. Don’t do activities because someone else wants you to. If someone truly wants to spend the time with you, they will. For example, I generally do not do pubs if there is a match or music on.

Dyspraxia and parkrun

Dyspraxia has had a few different names over the years ranging from ‘clumsy child syndrome’ to its most recent name Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). When I was diagnosed in 1998 very little was known about dyspraxia. When people heard I was dyspraxic most common responses were ‘dys-what?’ and ‘Do you mean dyslexic?’.

As things turned out I was the first person in both my primary and secondary school to be confirmed as dyspraxic. This was a learning experience for everyone. To put it in simple terms dyspraxia is when someone has a difficulty with hand eye coordination or fine and gross motor skills. This can range from simple jobs such as tying your shoelaces or catching a ball to spatial awareness. Like most specified learning difficulties (SLD) how it affects you changes as you get older.

When younger, tasks such as tying your shoes or a tie have a big impact, then as you get older they will not be seen as important but suddenly tasks such as driving a car become an issue or how you adapt to social settings. For one, I drive an automatic car as a manual involves too many tasks at once for me to handle. Some tasks will follow you no matter what age you are, my handwriting is as illegible now as it was when I was 10. Similarly, my social skills are still dire. With me I like small groups of three or four people – anything bigger and I will get lost, especially as smaller pockets of groups will emerge. One thing my sisters always spoke about was my lack of a sense of danger. I had a habit of crossing the road when the cars where coming. How I never got knocked down is still a wonder to my family.

The Dyspraxia Association of Ireland annual conference in May 2006 was a seminal day for both the Association and me, because it was the first time they had someone with dyspraxia as one of the key note speakers. That day I spoke to a room of around 250 people ranging from occupational therapists teachers, lectures and parents.

I think it took this long for it to happen because people were still unsure about dyspraxia and the people with dyspraxia had confidence issues as a result. This meant they would not have been able to stand up and talk about it to a large crowd. I still remember a man from Cork asking about “giving his child the label of dyspraxia” or the person who asked “If dyspraxia affected my dating life”.

Since 2006 I am aware of at least three other people with dyspraxia who have spoken to the annual conference and I believe this to be a watershed for dyspraxia. I look forward to the day when someone is speaking as a life coach or giving a Tedx talk about life with dyspraxia. They will reveal that the tricks and hints that got them to the stage can help people with many conditions and people with none.

The reason I mention this is that one message came out from that day – parents believed that since their child was dyspraxic it was almost the end of the child’s life, the child would not amount to anything. Since that day I have given myself the aim of changing that mindset. I believe that I have done this and will keep doing so.

Roll forward to my time at the University of Limerick doing a Masters and coming across this strange concept called parkrun. Like most things in life it was a simple concept, a free 5k on a Saturday morning. At the time I could count on one hand how many venues parkrun Ireland had and it was very Dublincentric. But on 15 June 2014, Griffeen parkrun started so I planned to see what all the fuss was about. However, best laid plans and all that, work changed my hours the night before so I had to wait an extra week for my debut.

I enjoyed my first outing and went back the few rare Saturdays I was working late or had a Saturday off. But it was not till June 2015 I was really bitten by the parkrun bug. While living in Dundalk I decided to set up a parkrun, and as it turned out I was not alone in that thinking. After talking to Ireland country manager Matt Shields, it was decided to join forces with a woman named Carmel Drumgoole and work together to set up Dundalk parkrun. On 6 June 2016 Dundalk parkrun had it first event and they actually trusted me with the scanner! Even more shocking was that for events five to eight, I was the Run Director! But alas nothing drastic happened.

Shortly after that I moved away from Dundalk but not parkrun. I knew Castletown parkrun was in the works so I split myself between Griffeen and Waterstown parkruns till it launched. Once Castletown started I was given an opportunity to volunteer at all roles. After a little while I was invited onto the core team of the event. Since then I have progressed and grown with the event. I also seem to have installed myself as the go to guy for the results (I may be the proof that you cannot break parkrun). To continue my growth within parkrun I became Event Director of Castletown parkrun in September this year.

What has my journey with parkrun taught me? For one thing, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Secondly, parkrun will allow people to grow at their own pace and will never push someone to do something they don’t want to do. It has allowed me to grow and nobody has ever said I can’t do something because I’m dyspraxic, but in the same way as other people they have asked am I comfortable doing it. They have provided the training to allow me to do the roles I enjoyed.

The benefit does not only show on a Saturday morning. Since joining parkrun I have come out of my shell a little bit. Prior to parkrun I don’t believe I would be able to speak to people whether in a group or on their own the way I can now. It has also given me the confidence to go for jobs I would not have considered myself good enough before. The reason is simple: parkrun has taught me I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it. For certain I would not have my current job working in tax for BDO Dublin had I not gained the confidence and support to grow within parkrun the way that I did.

The advice I would give to people with learning difficulties or disabilities is to go to your local parkrun and allow yourself to grow at your own pace. This may mean running or walking it until you feel confident enough to volunteer. It may be the case that when you start volunteering you only feel comfortable as a marshal or token sorter. And that’s fine – parkrun will allow you to grow at a pace that suits you. Going out the door for Griffeen parkrun event number two was one of the best decision I ever made, and a similar decision could be for you too.

Above I have spoken about how parents were at the conference in 2006 and the fear they felt. I think as we look 11 years later this fear is not as bad as it was. Parents have a better idea about what dyspraxia is and that it is not a life sentence. When we look at successful or famous people with dyspraxic we see Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Florence Welsh (Florence & The Machine) and Hannah McDonnell (Former Dublin Rose) to name a few. Having dyspraxia did not stop me, nor did it stop them. Look at Stephen Hawkins or Sinead Kane to see that disability won’t stop you unless you let it.

If I was asked to give two pieces of advice to parents of someone with a disability or long term health condition I would say:

•Remove the expression “We can’t” for “How can we?”. Look at like of James Casserly who has completed the last two Dublin Marathons in a wheelchair being pushed by Mark Lacey.
•Keep it positive. Your child can pick up body language more then we know. If they sense negativity around the condition they will develop a glass ceiling a lot lower than it should be.

parkrun has the ability to help you make friends, learn new skills, build confidence and get fit, all for an entry fee of nothing.

Philip Slattery
parkrunner A536756

Photo thanks to Eavan Connolly