Dyspraxia is so much more than not being able to ride a bike

I think it’s great that Dr Who acknowledged dyspraxia actually exists. Ryan, played by Tosin Cole, a character in the new series, struggles to learn to ride a bike because of his dyspraxia. Just a note to Ryan, it probably can be done but he’ll have to work bloody hard to get there.

As a person who has dyspraxia, it’s nice to see it recognised, but I’m worried the show may be mischaracterising and giving an impression to the average viewer which is a far cry from how dyspraxia really impacts people. Raising the profile of dyspraxia might help me avoid awkwardly trying to get in a comment about begin dyspraxic as I trip over myself, but it needs to be done accurately and give a full and real picture.gallery-1535720482-dl6-9cnx0aarhh2

“He’s got dyspraxia, it’s a co-ordination disorder.” Is the line in the show which explains a bit about dyspraxia. It simplifies the reality of what it is and how it manifests itself in your day to day life.

I can’t swim, ride a bike or do a whole host of physical activies as well as I would like. Dyspraxia for me has been a challenge in a variety of ways. As I can’t ride a bike, I’m not all that bothered as I don’t know what I’m missing, but when I put my mind to a day to day task and dyspraxia gets in the way, it’s far more frustrating.

Dyspraxic people have a number of fine co-ordination issues and larger scale issues. For example, I struggle with my handwriting, which is a matter of detail, but also swimming which requires full body movement.

Dyspraxia is so much more than the co-ordination issues. For example, organisational issues, alongside associated issues including dyscalculia (something I do not have) and over-sensitive senses, something which has massively impacted my relationships. It’s not easy telling a girl you feel passionately about that you don’t want to hold her hand, because it’s physically overbearing.

The difficulties in organisation, in my short and long term memory has been one of the biggest impacts for me. When I’m working to my own deadlines, I often struggle to break down the various tasks required for work and see it as a daunting homogeneous blob. As it looms ever closer, the organisation required to bring it together never quite comes around, and I lose track.

Knowing I struggle with co-ordination, I become anxious when I’m aware I have to interact with an issue of co-ordination. My hand shakes when I have to pay with cash or shake a hand. It’s not completely debilitating but adds unnecessary pressure in social and working life, which awareness could mitigate to a great extent. I’m constantly dodging opportunities to embarrass myself, imagining a high 5 turning into a solid palm to the face. In the end, I call it all too American and move on.

For a dyspraxic person, it is always easier to explain the difficulties I have, if the person I’m speaking to is familiar with the issues beforehand. If Dr Who goes on to give a fuller picture, I will be grateful to the writers and Tosin Cole. I hope that they go on to give something beyond the surface level, and show their viewers, dyspraxia is more than a bit of wobbliness on two wheels. If the profile of dyspraxia is raised, but people believe they know what it is, based on what could become a stereotypical view, more harm than good could be done.



I’ve only touched on the issues briefly, and those that impact me most, but if you are interested please read up with the dyspraxic foundation and other sources.

Lord Adonis calls Brexit a national spasm

Brexit was caused by a national spasm, former transport secretary Lord Adonis told a Lewes audience one year after article 50 was triggered.

At a talk given in the White Hart hotel on “The plan to stop Brexit,” Lord Adonis also said that Northern Ireland was being treated disgracefully by the UK government.

Lord Adonis told the audience: “We were misled by the leave campaign and sold a lie. This has led to a national spasm, which the government is going fully ahead with.”


Lord Adonis, who served in Tony Blair’s cabinet, has been a vocal opponent of the UK leaving the EU and the aim of his appearance was to inspire anti-Brexit activists.

On Ireland, Adonis said; “this is a disgraceful way to be treating Ireland. They [the government] are saying Ireland should follow its colonial master.”

Travel between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is uncertain after the UK leaves the EU as people can currently freely travel between the two countries.

A physical border, which the Republic of Ireland opposes, could be introduced if the UK wishes to reduce EU migration.

Lord Adonis said; “The Irish border is the Achilles heel that’s quickly turning into an Achilles foot.”

During his time in Lewes Lord Adonis was involved in a dispute with local MP Maria Caulfield on Twitter.

Lord Adonis was told to “Please withdraw your misleading lie”, by Maria Caulfield, after he implied she was not engaging with remain supporters in the area.

Maria Caulfield supports Brexit, despite the constituency voting narrowly to remain.

Ms Caulfield described the Brexit campaign as; “the country raising up and shouting loud.”

Janet Hardy-Gould, who organized the event and is a member of EUnity Lewes, said; “we have a lot of people who voted remain in Lewes, but people have been kowtowed by the government ploughing on with a hard Brexit.”

Mrs Hardy-Gould added; “many people voted leave because of difficult social issues, such as healthcare and housing. Brexit will make these social issues worse not better.”

Lord Adonis advocates a second referendum after a deal is struck, with accepting the terms of the deal or remaining in the EU as the options.

Prime Minister Theresa May said of a second referendum: “People in the UK feel very strongly that if we take a decision, then governments should not turn round and say no you got that wrong.”


Too offensive for the beach: Brighton artist Brian Mander on his controversial art

mander.jpgAn image of four children keeping each other stable, also viewed through other eyes as four children tied together up and threatened by rope. The ambiguity of how we interpret art is surely inherent in what makes it art.

Crossing a line and simply becoming too offensive, particularly to be displayed in a public space, is clearly something several members of the public and local politicians across Sussex have decided has happened in the case of Brian Mander.

A Brighton Fringe award winning artist, Brian Mander believes art which challenges people should be allowed to be displayed in public, and is almost inciting a reaction in his insistence to do so.  He has certainly received some attention as he has attempted to display his work in several seaside towns along the East Sussex coastline.

The piece in question is made up of hundreds of stone statutes of children, with rope around them. Three children are at the base and one standing above. The line into causing offense occurs as some statues appeared to have the rope around the child’s neck, whilst the staging also saw some of the children under the water

Mr Mander recently displayed his work The Tempest, The Shore, on Hastings beach front, but some people took offense to it, leading to it being featured on a regional news programme. After this the art had to be taken down. This has been followed by having to swiftly take the pieces away from the sea front at Tide Mills, Newhaven and a rejection to display it on Seaford seafront.

On the response some people have shown to his work Mr Mander said: “Some people get it but in a low-resolution way, they can’t deal with the threat of it.”

He later added; “I’m glad with the reactions I’m getting because it shows people are engaging with it, emotionally and intellectually.”

He is a softly spoken man but becomes highly animated when discussing his work. There is a palpable excitement whenever the details of the art are discussed, mirrored by the equal frustration at the negative responses it has received.

The death of Mr Mander’s wife ten years ago from cancer, is something which has influenced the art. One example is the cup his wife would use to pump milk has been used as a mold to play a role similar as a bird bath in several of the statues. What to many may seem odd, Mr Mander sees as reflecting nourishment.

Complications with the birth of their son, which led to severe learning difficulties, have impacted the work. He says his experience makes him want to protect children.

Whilst the work is personal, it is also inspired by seeing the image of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee lying dead in a beach on social media. Mr Mander hopes this makes viewers question our relationship with life and death.

Reactions to the art have been strong. In the debate on whether the art should be allowed in Seaford, Councillor Cheryl White said” I find this traumatic and distasteful, it’s depicting multiple effigies of stillborn babies with their arms chopped off tied up in rope. We’ve got a large group of women who have had still born babies or abortions, I can’t imagine any of them wanting to take fresh air on our beach [if the art was displayed there].”

Councillor Brown added; “it would be quite frightening for children to be faced with that sort of thing.”

Mr Mander responding to comments from a Brighton and Hove councillor’s objection said; “for someone in that position it’s so uncreative and lacking in any understanding.”

Though it’s difficult to look at the pictures and not see the potential to interpret it in the more extreme manner, there is a debate about how much potentially offensive material should be allowed in a public space. Whilst galleries may display potentially offensive work, such as Ai Wei Wei lying flat on a beach, as if dead, the need to display it in public is less clear. In this case local government’s have all arrived at the same conclusion.

With no appropriate home for the art on a beach Mr Mander’s garden is filled with his art, hundreds of statues crowding the patio. This makes it difficult for him to make it around the garden to show his art, climbing through slight gaps as he talks it through.

Mr Mander was formerly an electrician, and the sheer volume of the work he has completed is testament to the enthusiasm and passion he has put into his work as an artist, divisive or not.

The ambiguity of the work seems to extend beyond the viewer. As Mr Mander says, “aspects of this work are still uncertain to me.”

The UK has no good options on how to ‘control’ migration after Brexit

When the Government can’t recruit enough nurses and teachers, how does it expect to manage EU migration properly.

This week as the risk of no deal looms, number 10 reconfirmed their commitment to rejecting the free movement of workers between the UK and the EU. Re-taking control of the UK borders has long been one of the central tenets of what the government defines as a successful Brexit. Immigration should not be treated this way, and with Brexit discussions potentially hinging on the issue, re-thinking this attitude to migration would aid negotiations. The freedom of movement from European workers to the UK is essential to the UK economy and to lose it would put the UK’s financial future at risk.

Significant details have not been released on the exact nature of the migration system favoured by Theresa May’s government after Brexit, but the options available are not ideal. If the UK government is to fully “control” migration, that would force them into a position where they either respond to every job market based on the need, or they set an arbitrary financial cap or a quota on migrants. With any option, controlling migration comes with huge costs.

The first option would put huge pressure on UK pubic servants, at a time where they are already making significant mistakes in managing migration. It would be difficult to manage, and whilst it would appear to be more flexible, this system would be far less efficient than the current one. Time would need to be taken to understand and implement responses to the needs of labour markets. Recognising when a part of the economy needs a supply of labour, would be slower if a decision was made by government, and the process of determining it would cost the taxpayer as it happens.

If the government wants to become involved in micromanaging the supply of labour, two notable examples should make them think twice, the lack of teachers and nurses. 9 out of 10 UK head teachers struggle to fill their posts according to a survey by the Association of School and College Leaders. For nurses, recent NHS statistics showed on average the UK fill less than 10% of vacant jobs for nurses. There are several reasons for these statistics, but one that underlies them all is a lack of long term planning by multiple governments. It is a difficult task, and reflects that the UK government struggles when it comes to planning for labour markets. If they failed here why would they succeed in recognizing which migrants to let in for the entire UK?

An alternative option is that of a maximum quota of immigrants a year, for example the UK could set a cap at 100,000 people moving to the UK a year. One case that would likely occur with a maximum cap of immigrants is that of a top footballer. If the UK reaches their migrant cap in August, and later that month Arsenal agree to sign a top French footballer for £50 million, then this would be halted under a quota system (this does not even speak for doctors, academics and many others). It proves arbitrary and making exceptions complicates the process. When an exception the issues already outlined begin to be encountered. This could lead to an unfair system where some are allowed in to a country, and others with legitimate reason to do so, are not. In this example, an exception to let the footballer may occur, whilst a French firefighter does not get the same treatment. If no exception is made, then posts simply go unfilled, to the detriment of businesses and public services.

The Australian points style system, a mixture of both approaches, which has previously been advocated by government ministers Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, has failed to work. This is primarily as it fails to keep up with what is needed across the country and has been tweaked so businesses get more of a say in who comes into the country. The issues encountered by Australia, would be seen in the UK, and worsened by the lack of experience of those implementing it. The UK should not seek to replicate a failing system.

Changing the approach to migration and being open to staying in a customs union allows the UK to bypass one of the central issues in the Brexit negotiations. This would solve the border dispute between the North and the Republic of Ireland. The desire to control migration is the central factor which has led to the UK government’s position of having border checks, technological or not. The Republic of Ireland and the EU reject this option, and allowing free movement to continue, would solve this central issue in negotiations.

There are many cases of European workers, who may not pass a threshold for a high earning salary, that make the UK richer, culturally and economically. Some of these are already in short supply and this could only get worse. For example there are worries for fruit pickers after Brexit, chefs who define modern British food  or plumbers and electricians who keep the UK going.

Unpicking the Irish border debate, helping UK businesses and enriching British culture are all benefits in a change of stance for Theresa May’s government, and to insist on the current path will make the UK poorer in many ways. If the UK continues on the route that it’s going, control will soon become an awkward burden.