Dyspraxia, a condition that many have heard of but don't understand or not even heard of.
That's why we wanted to speak with Rosemary Richings, author of Stumbling Through Time and Space (living life with dyspraxia) to find out how it impacts someone on a day to basis.
How can we support friends and family members with dyspraxia like Rosemary?
How can businesses be more accessible and inclusive to people like Rosemary?
What needs to change?
Check out our blog page: Blogs - All 4 Inclusion
Watch some of our highlights on our Youtube channel: All4inclusion - YouTube
If you want to get in contact with Rosemary you can do so on this link:
rosemary_richings | Twitter, Instagram, Facebook | Linktree
Voiceover for intro and outro by Jennie Eriksen | LinkedIn
Music granted free of charge very kindly by Music: https://www.purple-planet.com . The track is called Hope and Inspire.
Welcome everybody to the third season of the All4Inclusion Pod. I just wanted to share with you before we introduce our guest today the reason for the sudden ending of each season that's happened. It's all tied in with with my own health and getting to a point where there's no more podcasts pre-recorded. And just wanting to ensure that the podcasts come out smooth and make sure they're done to to the quality that I'd like them to be done. It has been a little bit of a gap but it is great to be back and it's great to be back actually with someone that but I've spoken to a little while ago and and it's great to be able to have her on the podcast. So joining me today is Rosemary, Rick Kings Rosemary, would you like to introduce yourself to to all of those listeners?Rosemarie Richings:
All right. So thanks for having me, and I'm glad that I'm part of being on the mend. That's a real honor. Anyways, so I am Rosemary and I'm a freelance writer, editor, and public speaker specializing in neurodiversity and disability. And I also have a book out called Stumbling Through Space and Time, living Life with Dyspraxia. And in terms of diagnosis, I'm a Dyspraxic, neurodivergent person myself.Scott Whitney:
I think if we look at what I think or feel personally what a lot of people I don't feel dyspraxia is something that a lot of people are familiar with. A lot of people potentially get it confused a little bit withother conditions that can sound similar to it, but are very different. So common one being dyslexia and then potentially dyscalclia as well. So would you mind just explaining to people what dyspraxia is, if that's okay?Rosemarie Richings:
Yeah. It's a coordination of movement condition. So it relates to the planning of movement. It relates to motor skills such as just basic things around looking after yourself like, like brushing your hair, brushing your teeth, doing your makeup tasks like that. Motor skills, so team sports arts and crafts. It relates to also your sense of space and time navigation. How you would perceive the concept of how much time something would take, whether you're going up or down a hill, and also verbal instructions around movement. And there's always a disconnection in your body of responding to that.Scott Whitney:
And yeah, a lot of people who follow the podcast know I've got a condition called FND functional Neurological Disorder, which means that the signal from my brain to my body can almost short circuit on the way, which can cause different outcomes from my body than what I want it to. So where we're looking at dyspraxia, is the signal in your, is it in the brain that's being confused or is it after it's left the brain as well?Rosemarie Richings:
It's the brain that's being confused. And I would say it's everything from things that a lot of people might take for granted you're in a crowded space and you're trying to figure out which direction to go. A signal might cross and you might have some issues with understanding like, oh, what should I do next? Or even if someone says, turn left something might get crossed in your brain. It's all in the brain, and it's what happens directly afterwards.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And and how old was you when you was when you was diagnosed with the condition?Rosemarie Richings:
I am very unusual in the sense that I was diagnosed really young. I was only four. So there's honestly very little I understand. I remember about the actual diagnosis itself, but I feel like the most complicated part of the journey. There's a lot of privilege in being diagnosed that young, but the most complicated part of the journey was trying to understand that part of myself while I was trying to understand the things we're all always trying to figure out about our own bodies as we grow and progress and learn to live independently. Yeah.Scott Whitney:
Yeah, I guess it's when you think of it a lot of people who are diagnosed later on in life, the advantage for that is they've already done a good part of learning about, about your body, et cetera as well. But I guess if you are at the age of five, six, when your brain's a sponge Did you know at that age you was you was dyspraxic or did your parents keep that from you?Rosemarie Richings:
They told me. I was part of the process, but because I was so young, it was hard to perceive it really as a difference. It was just like part of who I was and it also made me. Prone to a lot of stigma and bullying as well, because I didn't know that how I was behaving was any different. I just was behaving how I was behaving.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. And and so how did it really impact you in school and education?Rosemarie Richings:
I was lucky enough to be in the special education system quite early on. That's always the best part of being diagnosed early. So I was getting extra time on tests. I was getting extra time on assignments and things like that, but, I learned all the key childhood milestone things a lot later, like tying your shoelaces, riding your bike learning how to put clothes and make up on, on yourself independently a lot later. I had to go through extensive OT in the early days and that also made me feel quite singled out.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. Being singledd out then that have like a knock on effect with mental health as well.Rosemarie Richings:
Yeah. I talk quite openly about self-esteem issues as being something I overcame through being part of a lot of student theater later on in my life, right around like my teen years and my early twenties when I went off to university, I was part. A really of, much more socially progressive peer group where a lot of people were either coming out as gay or they were learning that they had issues of their own. And it wasn't until then that I started to face these things and see them on an emotional level as something that I could see positive in and that there I could accept support and still feel like I could try to squeeze better into the system. Yeah.Scott Whitney:
A lot of people when they're listening will start thinking about, how it affects you really day to day. So obviously we're outta school now and you're working, doing freelance work, which we'll come onto a bit in a moment, but your day-to-day life, what's the how does it impact you each and every day?Rosemarie Richings:
I basically, I have to, in order to do everyday tasks like preparing. Food or navigating my way around my everyday environment. I have to take things really like one thing at a time, one step at a time. Otherwise, cuz it also comes with a lot of sensory issues too much like you'd see in something like autism. I have to very carefully. Plan things out as to not get anxiety, to not get overwhelmed, to focus on what information I'm taking in my environment. But when freelancing. I would say the one thing that attracted me to it for so many years after I tried regular jobs for a bit, was that at least I, it, it was the one instance where I had control over my environment that like, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission for working like three hours as opposed to eight hours warning to go lie down for a bit or something like that. Yeah.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. And so does routine, is that something that, that helps you?Rosemarie Richings:
Yeah, routine is very important for me. I found that once I established that with freelancing more so it really meant I could stay much more focused on what I needed, much more immediate and my spouse has type one diabetes. And I think that's part of where we really get along in terms of living together, is that he really has created the routine that helps balance out creating routine, but also like me not getting so focused and passionate on what I'm doing, that I'll forget something important, like eating a meal or something like that.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. And then if you've got like a simple, I know some people with different conditions will say to leave the house, I'll want to, I'll make sure I've got this done. How does one piece of that jigsaw being removed, how does that impact you?Rosemarie Richings:
It, yeah, I mean it really throws off my balance if and my, everything isn't exactly, I have to be very systematic about how I store things. Otherwise I'll just waste a lot of time or lose things easily. That's part of my issues too, where everything has to be very consistent in terms of how I organize, where I put things. I have to keep very detailed lists. Otherwise, I'm gonna miss urgent appointments. I'm gonna waste tons of time looking for a simple thing like my keys, and then parts of the day will just be gone and I'll be anxious and overwhelmed. And that's never a productive state to be in.Scott Whitney:
No. Was that all self taught, those mechanisms to to yourself?Rosemarie Richings:
For the most part, yeah. I was habitually keeping. diaries and things like that for years, but it was heavily influenced by when I was a preteen, when I was in the special education system, I had a great teacher that noticed. I was like having a really hard time keeping organized and we started to like really work on developing a system for making sure I was writing things down and that I wasn't like, Falling behind on, on basic deadlines and things like that.Scott Whitney:
So when you went into into work to start with your first two or three jobs how was it settling into work and carrying out your sort of daily tasks, et cetera?Rosemarie Richings:
Pre freelancing, I would admit it wasn't great. I had some customer service jobs here and there and they really I was surrounded by this really North American you need to be very outgoing and chatty and things like that kind of approach. and that wasn't good for me because that meant too, that someone like me that's much more neuro divergent and wouldn't necessarily always wanna like approach people or might need a minute or whatever. It meant I was discouraged to exhibit my own traits and my strengths weren't as celebrated at first, but it was only once I had some chances with like more office administrative things, I started to figure out what I was good at and see some level of value in what I was good at, as well as figuring out like how I could work around. Find a place in that system, but I still felt there was a sense of shame about needing to work in a specific way. And that was very difficult for me and that was very much as post university. That was very much part of my decision. I was like, I have all these skills. I know what I'm good at. I grew up in a very entrepreneurial household, so I knew how to start with freelancing. I was already starting to talk to some of the right people and I was like, I just need to do things my way, and this is a means of doing.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. When you talk about about shame was that, do you think an internal thing or do you think that was, or did you feel that it was put on you by the way others were around you?Rosemarie Richings:
It was a bit of both. There was a sense of passive aggression of oh, why would you go to a quiet space for a minute? Why would you need to have your headphones on? Why wouldn't you come chat in the break room for a minute? That's weird. But also I feel like at that point I was still working on the self-esteem issues a little bit. there was a bit of internal and a bit of apology about saying I'm so sorry. I need to work in a specific way,Scott Whitney:
yeah, definitely. And some of those things, if you look at, maybe the. The better businesses now for disability inclusion, neurodiversity inclusion, most of these businesses have those ways of working throughout the businesses. Quiet spaces, sensory rooms that, that you can go to. But obviously back then, probably even the top two or 3% of businesses wouldn't have had a sensory room in. So there's been a big shift, but there's probably a there is so much more that needs to be done. Yeah. So when you come to freelance in there and you said you had it, it suits you better, what. That biggest thing for you when it comes to freelancing? What's that big difference?Rosemarie Richings:
It's just having that permission to just explore when I need to work what I need to be in a natural environment. And just to, there, I, especially as I've gotten older, I've realized there are days where I might. Sleepless or I might have pain issues or whatever. Just to have permission to just slow down for a minute and pick how I work and just approach things in a way that feels natural to me.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. Okay. So if we, if I'm gonna, if I'm gonna put you on the spot and try to give you, take away, unfortunately, your freelance work and say Rosemary you're not able to freelance anymore. You need to work for a business. But I'm also gonna give you the magic power of being able to tell the business three rules that they must put into place for you. What would those what would those rules be?Rosemarie Richings:
Three rules, I would say. Sort of ability to take a lot of breaks with, and go somewhere quiet, but whenever need be. The other one would be an ability to limit how many meetings I'm doing on an average day, how much information I'm taking in. Yeah, those two are really the main ones. But just very clear communication more than one way for information to be communicated and not just written, but things just very visually and concisely conveyed. Yeah.Scott Whitney:
And that, that last one I think is really important because if you're looking at the bigger picture, and we're not just talking about me and my condition and you and your condition communication, even if we're, we are talking about everyone people who are able bodied, et cetera, they have no disability, neurodiversity, health condition people still take information in different ways. So communication is vital for all businesses to get it. Yeah. What's, what sort of tips can you give to businesses when it comes to communication?Rosemarie Richings:
Yeah. I always stress really just, yeah, the importance of having communication in more than one way so that the message doesn't get lost. So that like someone who prefers things in video can get in video. Someone who prefers things written down can get it written down. Someone who is better at having a lengthy conversation has that option available.Scott Whitney:
And always think, you mentioned video there, video is a, video's a big one. But when we're looking at video, ensure, there's people who may be deaf or hard of hearing who prefer it to be by video, but the videos don't have captions. So it's not making sure that all your videos have captions and you can transcribe. There's transcriptions of the conversations as well for people who who prefer it not to be on a video format. And and let's not overcomplicate things because, captions are there as a, as an accessibility aid. But what we started to find these, all of these blocks coming out your mouth with one word at a time, firing things out which are then. More inaccessible than accessible and and making sure that things are clear for people and used in the right way. So can you tell me a little bit about your your book please? Rosemary, if you don't mind.Rosemarie Richings:
Oh yeah. It's called Stumbling through space and Time. The number one question I always get is about like, why I called it stumbling through space and time, and a lot has to do is it's the most consistent mental state I've felt throughout my life of being a dyspraxic person. And I've always felt like a lot of spaces I've inhibited have been a environment. I feel like I'm stumbling through to navigate it and it's written through my own story. I used elements from my own story to educate people on the dyspraxic way of thinking and the way I have experienced it. But I also had a lot of conversations with people who were there over the years with my own journey to get a better sense perspective and the dyspraxia advocacy community at large to get a sense of it as well. Yeah, and also added in bit of research there to make sure that. Taking a more global perspective into account, and I found tons of diary entries over the years that were part of my process for understanding it better. So yeah, you, it basically uses elements for my own story to educate people on the condition.Scott Whitney:
And mentioned the dyspraxic advocacy community. What is the. What's the Dyspraxic community like and where's the best place for people to if they've either got dyspraxia themselves or they know someone who is dyspraxic, where's the best place for them to go to, to hear how other people are doing?Rosemarie Richings:
I think it's like a lot of disability advocacy communities in a sense. The downside is there is some level of drama that's important, keep in mind, but there's also some real positive as well where there's things like dyspraxic help for you run by Billy Stanley that I've done a lot of stuff on. I've helped him with some of his resources. There's dyspraxia Magazine and. A lot of the YouTube stuff of Crystal Shaw. She does a Reeses Leases, a lot of really cool social media content to educate people from a lived experience point of view. And these are really like, The bright sparks to me of what's going on in the community.Scott Whitney:
Excellent. So there are, it's good that there are places for people to be able to go and learn about themselves, learn about their family members, learn about their their friends. And I think that's that's always important. Yeah. Okay. Finally then rRosemanry if you don't mind, if someone goes and gets a diagnosis today of dyspraxia, I'm sure there's gonna be lots of things going through their mind. What bit of advice would you would you give to them?Rosemarie Richings:
It's really overwhelming because it's a lot of really psychological deep dive. It's like going to therapy or something like that where like you have to get a lot of MRI scans you you have to go and see like occupational therapists, you have to go see therapists that specializes in neurodiversity stuff. Just really take a moment to breathe and just take care of yourself as you go through it, cuz you're gonna go on a really intense journey, but it'll be worth it in.Scott Whitney:
Excellent. Thank you. And then have you got any sort of final thoughts that you'd like to leave with with people listening today?Rosemarie Richings:
I would just say there's a lot of bright lights going on in the neurodiversity community. It's easy to feel cynical because I feel like it's often quite corporatized, but really. yeah. Just pay attention to the lived experience voices out there, because I think there's something really growing and progressing over the last little while.Scott Whitney:
Yeah. And I think that, that growth, that progression is something that's true across disability as a whole. And what you're actually finding with that is you are finding. People coming up about dyspraxia, people coming up about different conditions, and it makes it easier to be able to find people who who can inspire you to to take that next step yourself in your journey, whatever that step may be. Yeah. Excellent. Thank you all for listening to this episode of The All4Inclusion Pod. Season three, we're gonna be back weekly again. We're gonna be using some of our webinars and bringing out some of the best bits from our webinars and our disability inclusion networking speakers to be able to come in so you can listen to some reruns of those. We're gonna have some amazing guests like Rosemary today. And and like I said, it will be back weekly again. So thank you so much for listening. And finally, thank you so much for for joining us today, Rosemary.Rosemarie Richings:
Yeah, thanks for having me.