Hello my name is Amy, I am 24 years old and live in Scotland. I have Developmental Dyspraxia. I lost my mum in 2000 when I was 8 years old and my dad in 2010 when I was nearly 19. I work in my local Tesco store. I am also an Open University student currently on my fourth course of my degree. I am the Chair of Board of Directors of The Usual Place, a community café giving young people with additional support needs the opportunity to get training and work experience in the hospitality and retail industry. As well as being on the Board of Directors of DG Voice.
My Bullying Experience...
I first remember being bullied when I was in Primary Four, aged 8 and not long after my mum had died. At that stage it was beginning to be clear I was developing at a slower rate than my peers. My gait, the way I walk was unusual compared to my class mates. I struggled with the stairs. Didn't like joining in games at playtime, too much going on, I would rather sit on my own away from the hustle and bustle. P.E was the toughest lesson as I run rather awkwardly, couldn't do basics such a forward roll or catch and throw a ball. I also didn't have many friends who were my own age. My fine motor skills such as writing or tying shoe laces were poor. As well as physically affecting me , I was also affected emotionally. For example I would get upset easily and I was really affected if I was told off. I was picked on most days for being different, odd, quiet and wearing clothes not considered to be off fashion. My bullying carried on throughout primary school and well into secondary school.
Main issue is that the school hadn’t been made aware of my dyspraxia, so couldn’t help me when I first started. By this stage in my development my differences against my peers were even more noticeable. It was a large school with many building so moving from class to class was very anxious time for me. The staircase were of particularly problematic as I used to get pushed and shoved and names called out too me. Physical Education class was even worse than at primary school. I remember that I didn’t want to got to school most days.
When you are bullied you feel so small, you feel worthless. You keep questioning yourself. I know I used to think why me, why did I have to have dyspraxia, why did I have to be different.
How I overcame bullying..
From what I can remember when I was at Primary school I told my Dad what was happening and together with the class teacher we worked out the best action. In the end the last few months of Primary Seven were actually quite enjoyable. At secondary school it took me longer to tell someone something was happening. As my Dad knew what my normal personality was like he knew something was wrong so I eventually told him everything. We went into school and spoke to my guidance teacher and together we came up with a plan.
Due to having dyspraxia and being bullied I had very low confidence and self esteem. So my dad decided to take me to a local youth group. I joined the youth group at the community centre in 2004 when I was 12 and this is when my journey begins. At one of the meetings I met Tracey, Youth Support Worker for the councils Youth Issues Unit. Through that I joined Youth Strategy ExecutiveGroup the voice of young people in Dumfries and Galloway. As a member I took part in presentations, events and presentations to councillors, young people and professionals both at local and national levels. By summer 2010 I had completed over 500 hours voluntary work. I feel very privileged to have won the Ian McAllister bursary in 2009 for my voluntary work and in 2011 a Young Quality Scot award. After attending a conference in 2011I met Heather who was the development manger for DG Voice, the voice of disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway. I joined the organisation and soon took my place on the board of directors with the role of increasing the young person voice within the organisation. I helped Heather and her friend Linda develop the idea of a community café. I have been there since the very start of Inspired Communities Enterprise Trust which set up The Usual Place. At the AGM in January 2015 I was made Chair of Board of Directors. I have had the privilege to spread the word of the Usual Place to MP’s , MSP’s Councillors, council leaders and even The First Minister.
Through my voluntary work from 2005 well my confidence has increased never like I thought it would do and it is has spread to the rest of my life. I have been lucky enough to meet some influential people, win awards and well and truly spread my wings.
Now I've learned to embrace my differences and having dyspraxia. I suppose it makes me. There are many positives having dyspraxia such as determination, thinking outside the box, caring personality.
I'll be the first to admit my life hasn't been easy I've been dealt many hard times in my short 23 years on earth. However somewhere in me is that inner strength to carry on with life giving it the best shot I can. I have the determination not to sit back and see my world fall around me but instead to get out there and make the world a better place to live. I have a quote I use a lot “ You have to see the ABILTY within the disability”
I hope I have given you the courage to speak out about bullying or inspired you.