Dyspraxic Characters (or really, the lack of Dyspraxic Characters):
Dyspraxic characters; where are they? There are certainly many theories of characters that could have Dyspraxia (something I’ve gone into more depth later in this post). Dyslexia, Autism and other disabilities only get a few mentions here and there so it isn’t surprising that Dyspraxia gets completely overlooked. Physical disabilities get the spotlight most often, which is understandable when you think about it.
When it comes to giving a character a disability it somehow has to be part of the plot. Either the disability comes about during the film (like a serious accident) and/or the disability ends up as a plot device. On a rare occasion, disabilities are simply thrown into a film, even if it’s just a throwaway line, to give the illusion of character building or have a bit of diversity. Some films get it right and have a character with a certain disability to give them a personality and someone who can be related to but at the same time, there is thought behind the choice.
Dyspraxia doesn’t get this treatment and only gets attention when a famous person reveals that they have it, but it is then brushed aside soon after. While shoehorning Dyspraxia into movies can be more damaging than helpful if done constructively it can create more attention towards Dyspraxia instead. This foundation of awareness can then be built upon. If a character has Dyspraxia type traits and is officially confirmed Dyspraxic in the film then that’ll create talking points and can help make Dyspraxia more known. At the very least a character that we’ll be able to identify with.
At this moment in time, there are no mainstream characters with Dyspraxia and so it makes it difficult to find an onscreen character to relate to – especially growing up as a child with Dyspraxia. While diagnosing fictional character(s) with labels is a touchy subject, the characters onscreen are just a personification of human nature. Dyspraxia is just a certain combination of specific human traits. The common tendencies between Dyspraxia and that character can then be compared.
Warrior, The Tugboat, certainly ticked off a few things off the Dyspraxia checklist. Tillie could potentially tick off a few things but not enough to be Dyspraxic in my opinion. However, both characters have shown an incredible amount of hard-working mentality that us with Dyspraxia can relate to. Because of this, and at the very least, they’re characters that we can easily relate to on a spiritual level rather than a dyspraxic one.
(Tillie and Warrior can’t exactly demonstrate difficulty in tying shoelaces when they don’t have shoes!)
Potential Dyspraxic Characters
There are many, many characters who show certain Dyspraxic tendencies in the world of entertainment. In this chapter, I’ll give a quick summary of some of the characters and my Dyspraxia rating on how likely I feel they are Dyspraxic. Obviously, the ratings are just my opinions and I like to hear your opinions on the characters I’ve outlined and any other characters that you think may have Dyspraxia. Could be from a film, a TV series, a book, or even a game!
Warrior (Tugs TV series)
Warrior is clumsy and accident-prone throughout the show, from bumping into things and sometimes being a bit forgetful. He has demonstrated that he can come up with creative ideas and has a very strong will. Warrior once showed that he can tire more easily than the other tug boats, a trait that no other character has shown throughout the entirety of the show, so it is unique to him. Warrior being non-human makes it difficult to draw up any more comparisons though.
My Dyspraxia rating: 8/10
Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter film series)
Neville demonstrates certain Dyspraxic tendencies, like losing things and having awkward moments. So it is widely accepted that he could have Dyspraxia. These tendencies aren’t brought up again after the first book as such though. Most of the time his misfortune is down to a stroke of bad luck. Early on in the series, he is shown to not be a very skilled wizard, but this could be down to a lack of self-confidence. It could well be a co-ordination difficulty but it isn’t confirmed that is the case or not. Some theories state that it is his wand that is the problem and not directly him. The strongest piece of evidence that he isn’t Dyspraxic is J. K. Rowling, as she has expanded on the Harry Potter universe by answering fan theories and questions over the years. Knowing her responses in the past I am highly confident Neville being Dyspraxic would be shot down just as easily as the other theories. With Daniel Radcliffe revealing his own Dyspraxia, it created a golden opportunity for J. K. Rowling to reveal to us if any of her characters have Dyspraxia. She hasn’t, yet, so we can accept that as an answer. For my rating, I’ll ignore the fact that J. K. Rowling hasn’t confirmed or denied it.
My Dyspraxia rating: 5/10
This is a tricky one and I can understand why people may think Harry is Dyspraxic. However, the book version of Harry Potter didn’t show any real signs of having Dyspraxia and he did show an incredible amount of dexterity and coordination with no confirmed issues. His appearance of messy hair, broken glasses etc, which can be associated with Dyspraxia, is obviously as a result of being kept in a dusty cupboard for most of his early life and the bullying from his cousin and his cousin’s friends. The film version is much the same except Harry is played by Daniel Radcliffe, who has Dyspraxia. So it is possible that some of Daniel’s Dyspraxia traits could come through in the acting. In the film, there is a moment involving shoelaces but whether this is just creative licensing on the film part, a nod to the actor’s actual Dyspraxia, or as a hint to something more is debatable.
My Dyspraxia Rating (Book): 0/10
My Dyspraxia Rating (Film): 1/10
Miranda (Miranda TV series)
A character that many believe to be dyspraxic. Her clumsiness and awkward tendencies being her prominent character traits. There are many people with Dyspraxia that are able to relate to her and because of this, it is highly possible that she is Dyspraxic. Miranda as a show has a very basic premise and doesn’t really involve much character development – it runs like a sketch, which makes it difficult to get the full picture of a character. At face value, she is one of the best contenders for Dyspraxia on modern television.
My Dyspraxia Rating: 9/10
Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)
He certainly has a fair few of the tendencies such as the frequent accidents, getting distracted easily, messy eater, etc. Not to mention he has a big heart and strong willingness at times. Generally speaking, Homer is a strong contender for a Dyspraxia label, however, there was an episode which gave an explanation into Homer’s persona. As a result, it could be argued that because of this Homer doesn’t exactly have Dyspraxia, rather it would be Apraxia*. Homer is a perfect example of why fictional characters, especially cartoons, are pretty much impossible to give labels.
My Dyspraxia rating: 7/10 (If we count Apraxia as Dyspraxia)
*The main difference between Dyspraxia and Apraxia is that Dyspraxia is from birth while Apraxia comes about from a serious accident (like stroke or head injury).
This character is another difficult one. Some say he probably has Dyspraxia, others say he could be classed as having Asperger’s. Judging him across the original TV series and the 2 spin-off films he has shown that he can be clumsy, forgetful, and is non-verbal (except for the occasional word). He also owns a creative mind and has tackled problems with a unique approach (quite the dangerously creative mind I must add). He has shown strong coordination and dexterity skills, which works against him having Dyspraxia. I decided to take an online assessment on his behalf just to see what springs up. I had to take certain liberties and make some educated guesses but the conclusion came back as unlikely. I’ve ignored the quiz for my rating as it isn’t a definitive answer.
My Dyspraxia rating: 4/10.
Angela Cross (Ratchet and Clank 2: Going Commando)
Ratchet and Clank is a very successful game series dating back to the early years of the PlayStation 2. In the second installment a new character is introduced – Angela Cross. During the cutscenes, it shows that she is clumsy and has quite the technical mind, which does suggest she has Dyspraxia (if Dyspraxia exists in other galaxies that is!). She doesn’t appear in any other games so far and her character development is very limited so it is difficult to build the complete picture.
My Dyspraxia Rating: 6/10
Any game character that you play as!
This is probably cheating, but if you have Dyspraxia and you play a game it really automatically makes that character Dyspraxic! Whether it’s missing a platform as you make a jump, missing the target as you’re shooting, messing up a sequence, etc. The character is a reflection of you!
My Dyspraxia Rating: 10/10 (Potentially)
Tillie (The Little Engine that Could ~ 1991 movie adaptation)
I mentioned that Tillie ticks off a few Dyspraxia type attributes. She is a very hard-worker, kind natured, enthusiastic, and creative. The film is only half an hour-long, so there isn’t time to develop the character or go into her back story. During the course of the film, she had a clumsy moment, but this was due to a sudden burst of anticipation and energy – an accident that anyone could have. I’ve also noted that for all the steam engines to move it takes a good amount of coordination – something that doesn’t seem to affect Tillie at all.
My Dyspraxia Rating: 1/10
Here’s Hoping: A future of Dyspraxic Characters
While flooding every film with a token Dyspraxic character is impractical and not what anyone wants. It would be nice to get a solid character with Dyspraxia into a major film or TV series. Whether or not a fictional character makes it into mainstream entertainment we’ll continue to seek out those occasional characters that we can relate to.
Edit: I have decided to make this topic as a page for my blog, I will continue to update it with new info and characters, you’ll find it here: dyspraxicfantastic.com/dyspraxic-characters/