South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has thrown her weight behind a campaign by a charity calling for greater awareness of dyspraxia among females.
Mrs Lewell-Buck suffers from the condition – which affects people’s co-ordination and can also impact on memory, perception and planning – having been diagnosed aged 27.
Stuff like this wasn’t on the agenda when I was at school, so I often got dragged into misbehavingEmma Lewell-Buck
New findings from a nationwide poll commissioned by the Dyspraxia Foundation have revealed a significant gap in the diagnosis of the condition among young women and girls.
More than half of female respondents said that their primary school teachers had been unaware of their difficulties, compared to 39% of males.
At secondary school, 47% of girls reported the same situation, as opposed to 32% of boys.
The national survey questioned 1,156 people, and although the average age for diagnosis of dyspraxia is seven to eight, the new research suggests many are not diagnosed until they are much older.
Mrs Lewell-Buck has spoken of her battle with the condition, and explained: “I can’t wear eyeliner, because you’ve got to have a steady hand. Every time I try, I end up with a big line down my face.
“If I got hair straighteners, you can guarantee I would burn myself.”
Speaking of her school days, she said: “I was struggling, but stuff like this wasn’t on the agenda when I was at school, so I often got dragged into misbehaving.
“Really it was a way of saying, ‘I can’t do this and I don’t know why because no one is helping.”
The Dyspraxia Foundation is focusing on the gender gap for its 2015 Awareness Week this week.
Mrs Lewell-Buck will attend the charity’s Parliamentary Reception tomorrow, along with the Dyspraxia Foundation’s newly announced Patron, Jamie Lambert, from Britain’s Got Talent-winning band Collabro.
Jamie, from Washington, whose mum Lorraine served for 18 years as South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust chief executive, also has dyspraxia.
He was diagnosed while at school, aged 14.
What is dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia affects about 5% of the population, and 2% severely, and can sometimes run in families.
It is a form of developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), and affects fine and/or gross motor co-ordination. It can also affect speech.
The condition is life-long, and can affect participation in everyday life skills in education, work and employment.
Children suffering with it may have difficulties with writing, riding a bike and play, among many other areas, and in adults, it can affect many of the same things, as well as learning new skills, such as driving a car.
Time management, planning and organisation can also be impacted upon, while there can be problems with memory, perception and processing.