08:00, Wednesday, 13th October 2021

Dyspraxia Awareness Week 2021. Tricks for teens, from teens

This week is Dyspraxia Awareness Week 2021.

This years awareness campaign is themed Primary and Secondary Education.

This is the second of three articles on dyspraxia tips and tricks for teens.

Read the first article for ideas on getting dressed, personal hygiene, and organisation for school, college, and work.

The final article has ideas on shaping social skills as well as useful resources and links.

This advice has been shared by teenagers with dyspraxia, their parents and some of the professionals who work with them.

As each person with dyspraxia has a unique profile of strengths and challenges, the strategies that work will vary from individual to individual. We hope you find some new ideas here.

Read these ideas on organisation at home, hobbies and leisure activities, writing or typing, and ideas in the kitchen.

Organisation at home

  • Identify a place to ‘off load’ all of your stuff as soon as you come in from school, college, or work. For example keep a plastic box kept next to the front door.
  • Organise items such as stationery and toiletries into coloured boxes. Put a label or picture on the outside to help you find things quickly.
  • Have a ‘dirty laundry’ basket in your room and use it.
  • Keep a white board in your bedroom for writing notes to yourself about things you need to remember. Check it often and wipe off things as you deal with them.
  • Create a pneumonic to help you check that you have the important things with you each time you leave the house e.g. ‘MPK’ for ‘money, phone, keys’. You can also tap the pocket in which you usually keep these items as you say them for an extra prompt.
  • Develop routines for specific times of the day, such as a morning or evening routine. When you want to introduce something new into an established routine you will have to think about doing so consciously for several weeks before it becomes ‘automatic’. Use sticky notes and pictures to remind you in the meantime.
  • There are various Apps that you can use to help with organisation, or just use an alarm or reminder calendar on your phone to help you remember important dates or meetings.

Hobbies and leisure activities

  • Don’t worry about what other teenagers are doing. Identify a hobby or leisure activity that interests you and investigate how you can do it locally. You will probably meet like-minded people who you will enjoy being with.
  • It is important to keep active for your long term health and fitness. Identify a sport or physical activity that appeals to you – this doesn’t have to be a ‘mainstream’ activity, but may be something like climbing, canoeing or cycling.

Writing or typing

  • Try different shaped pens/pencils to find one that suits you. You may prefer one that has a chunky barrel and a bit of weight so that you can ‘feel’ it in your hand more easily.
  • Typing is an important life skill and it is worth putting in time to teach yourself properly. There are lots of free typing programmes on the internet – find one that appeals to you.
  • You may find a touch screen easier to use, for example an IPad or tablet.
  • Set up a system for filing and storing work on your computer so that you can find it again easily. Keeping to the system will prevent you from wasting time looking for things later on.

In the kitchen

  • Developing ‘kitchen skills’ is important for your future independence, but takes practice.
  • Identify (and agree with your parents if appropriate) a couple of skills that you want to focus on, for example peeling vegetables or grating cheese. Find videos on YouTube demonstrating techniques for completing these tasks and have a go. Don’t give up – practice is definitely required!
  • Tools such as knives and peelers may be easier to handle if they have a bit of weight to them and have a chunky handle. Try a few to see what suits your hands best.
  • Look for ring-pull openers on cans to avoid having to use tin openers, which can be very tricky.
  • Silicone cookware can be good as it doesn’t slip or get hot.
  • Try wearing rubber gloves or use a rubber gripper to open stiff jar lids.
  • Use some non-slip matting (often available from high street discount stores) under chopping boards and other kitchen utensils to keep them stable.
  • Use a timer (or app on your phone or tablet) so that you know start and finishing times.
  • Build up your skills one at a time. Don’t expect to be able to prepare a full roast dinner for your family straight away!

Join in with the conversation on social media with #dyspraxia21.

This content was originally published by Dyspraxia Foundation – 30th Anniversary | Dyspraxia/DCD Awareness.

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