+ Daniel Radcliffe Reveals He Has Dyspraxia

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Daniel Radcliffe, star of the Harry Potter films, suffers from dyspraxia, according to an online article in the Halifax [UK] Courier. 

A brain disorder often associated with clumsiness, dyspraxia can often mean difficulty preforming the most basic tasks, like tying shoelaces, writing, using eating utensils.

Normally, the brain sends messages to the nerves and muscles to bring about the organization of movement in the body, but for a dyspraxic person, some part of that process does not function as it should.

Daniel Radcliffe says his mother encouraged him to act when he was having diffiulty in school and needed a confidence boost.  He got that boost — and then some.  But he still stuggles to tie his shoes.  And his handwriting is terrible.

Dr Amanda Kirby, spokeswoman for the Dyspraxia Foundation, and medical director of a special clinic, says Daniel’s revelation will give confidence to other sufferers.  Up to 10 per cent of people in Britain show signs of the condition; of these, about 2 per cent are severely affected.  Men are more likely to be dyspraxic than women.

Says Kirby, “It can be a real problem for people.  If you think about what you do from when you get up in the morning, everything entails coordination from getting dressed to eating breakfast and brushing your teeth… Even into adulthood, dyspraxics find things like handwriting, or driving and parking a car, more difficult.”

She says both adults and children are judged if they have this condition.

“Clumsy children are often labeled stupid or kept out of team games, which can lead to bullying and isolation at school.  Adults can find themselves discriminated against in the search for employment as bad handwriting, to some, may indicate a potentially poor employee.”  

Dyspraxics may also have problems with time management and planning, since these are part of coordination.  Working out how to do something, anticipating ahead of time how long it will take to do it — these are skills most of us take for granted and do subconsciously.  A deficit in these skills can mean missed deadlines, unfinished papers and exams, problems in a team sporting activity and a host of other difficulties.

Dyspraxia is also linked with other problems such as ADHD, dyslexia and autism spectrum disorders.

Dr Kirby, who has a 22-year-old dyspraxic son, says it’s not all bad news, however.  “It’s not that dyspraxics can’t do things, it just takes them longer to learn, and they have to practice them more.”  She is a professor at the University of Wales, and runs the Dyscovery Centre, which helps people with ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome.

“The problem is, especially with children, that if they find they are not good at something they will tend to avoid it,” she says.  “But the key is practice, practice, practice.  You have to put in the work.

“My son — who is now at university — has been working with a personal trainer and because the instructor has put in a lot of time, shown him what to do and given him guidance, he has got on very well.”

Dyspraxics find it hard to copy, and have to be shown and taught how to do things in a way that they can understand, says Kirby.  It’s important that they find skills they are good at.  If team sports are difficult, perhaps swimming, martial arts, running, fencing or golf might be the ticket — sports where they don’t have to assess other people’s actions as well as their own.

“That in turn builds confidence,” she says, “and also can help with socialization.  Exercise is particularly important for dyspraxics, as they often have low body tone; and this can help them improve posture and core stability.”

And according to Kirby, dyspraxics tend to be “very empathetic — although we don’t know why — which is a positive character trait that can be built on.  The key to building confidence is to focus on what you can do well, not on what you can’t.”

The fact is, dyspraxics, who often feel isolated, need to know they are not alone.  Dr Kirby speaks of a man who came forward at the age of 66. 

She feels it’s important that Daniel Radcliffe has spoken out, since so many people suffer in silence because of the stigma and the fear of being thought stupid.  “Now people can look at him and think, ‘Well, if he can do great things, so can I!’ ”

sole source: www.halifaxcourier.co.uk article on 9/3/08.  No byline visible… See Daniel Radcliffe as the eponymous hero of all the Harry Potter films!

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