Shoes or no shoes

  I am presenting at the British Dyslexia Association International Conference 2014 on Thursday, 26 March.

I’m also presenting a poster at the Thursday evening session which has interactive elements as delegates can Skype students who use Diverse Learners.

On the eve of the conference I have some concerns about whether the Wi-Fi at the venue will support the calls and earlier in the week had a little wobble over the presentation.

However, as a person who has Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder it is the logistics of getting to the venue, navigating around the venue, concerns about fatigue from such a long days that occupy my thoughts.

Guildford is not a easy place to get to if you live on the east coast of Yorkshire. Once in London navigating changes on the underground and trains to get to Guildford whilst lugging a case and holding a poster that 1 metre long is filing me with anxiety. Add in lack of spatial awareness, orientation issues, difficulties with depth perception, sensory sensitivity issues I might as well apologise in advance for thwacking somebody with my poster, running over their toes with my case or causing chaos when trying to get into the train or leap off the escalator.

It takes skill

It’s the everyday tasks that others don’t think about or take granted that significantly impact my life and those of my daughter and of the students with dyspraxia I support – we even vlog about it on Youtube . The effect of the effort and energy of performing everyday tasks for someone who has dyspraxia I believe is still vastly underestimated and not understood well, perhaps even sneered at. I know I will be exhausted by the long days and will endeavour to have my regular afternoon nap but I still ponder whether I will spill food down myself at the gala evening – well, more than usual due to fatigue. Tiredness really impairs my ability to function and this in turn disrupts the coping strategies I employ for every little task to minimise the effects of dyspraxia. My daughter and I are often questioned about our difficulties in performing up to expected levels – How can such can such an otherwise capable person:

– get in a flap about finding something in their bag

– be anxious about going somewhere alone

– not get homework in on time

– take so long to …

and demonstrates the lack of understanding well.


The thing that causing me the biggest concern and pressing on my mind at the moment is what shoes to wear when I present or whether to wear shoes at all. This may seem in insignificant factor for many or maybe even perceived as vanity.

However as I am a person who has dyspraxia shoes have a direct impact on life – and not just for the challenge of tying shoe laces. Standing in small heels trying to look elegant is not something that comes naturally to me. Standing up straight and not fidgeting is something that doesn’t come naturally to me and wearing some shoes only adds to the quandary. Fatigue levels means the chances of me falling over and tripping over my feet and generally stumbling about are greater than usual. The fear of falling over and the additional concentration and energy used to combat this then affects my confidence levels in moving about. I become over concerned because I am unfamiliar with surroundings that I start over emphasising my movement almost goose-stepping up stairs and going down stairs holding on to the banister until my knuckles go white. I scour the floor for those hidden mini-steps that seemingly jump out from nowhere.


Wearing certain shoes it feels more likely that I will fall or stumble or trip and it can seem to observers like a self-fulfilling prophecy though often I am fine …but at the cost of a lot of energy and a constant internal dialogue that drains me. Dont walk in my shoes My head for the day


I am looking forward to the conference immensely and if you see me without my shoes on I hope you’ll have insight into the reason why.

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