For this year’s Awareness Week I decided to do something a little bit extra. Thing is, creating a banner and information poster for dyspraxia awareness is enjoyable but unless it goes somewhat viral the only people who are going to see it are followers of dyspraxia. Cementing the knowledge of dyspraxia in those who are already aware is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the people who aren’t aware of dyspraxia that are the main target. Outside of the dyspraxia and disability circles and groups no one is talking about dyspraxia or its awareness week. This could be because with how the world is at the moment, but dyspraxia doesn’t exactly get media coverage under normal circumstances. Perhaps there’s more that could be done?
I decided to trail run something, sharing some of my potential dyspraxic character cards on some Facebook groups. From this I found it was a fair success. It kick started some conversations and got a few likes and shares, so that’s an extra little boost for awareness. It’s the comment section that motivated me to write this post though. Why? The most common comment was that they were aware of dyspraxia, even a few having dyspraxia themselves, but had no idea it had an awareness week! This fact actually surprised me more than it probably should have.
While they are now aware of the awareness week it’s safe to assume there are countless people out there who have no idea dyspraxia has a dedicated week. There’s something ironic in all this. The question now is, is there something more that can be done to help spread dyspraxia awareness even further?
During the week I kept tabs on what’s trending and dyspraxia / dyspraxia awareness didn’t even enter the top 50. Although, it did get a small spike in google searches, as expected. The more something trends, the more people see it and the more it gets talked about. A positive viscious cycle – a productive cycle; so to speak. However, getting it to that trend spot is difficult. What dyspraxia needs is a lucky break, just something that’ll get it trending. Dyspraxia has trended, somewhat, a few times in the past.
Dyspraxia doesn’t get much media coverage outside of the obvious sources. In order for dyspraxia to break-through it needs to be noticed and shared by more mainstream sources. As a matter of interest, I decided to see google search trends for dyspraxia over the last 16 years. There were 2 spikes of interest and 2 additional smaller spikes inbetween those times. This chart shows how popular dyspraxia searches have been worldwide since January 2004.
17th – 23rd August 2008
This was the time Daniel Radcliffe announced about his own dyspraxia. This news spawned several articles which lead to dyspraxia’s biggest interest spike ever.
7th – 13th October 2018
10 years after the August 2008 spike, we saw a new spike. There’s a few things why this was the case.
+ This was Dyspraxia’s 2018 awareness week.
+ An interview with the comedian Harriet Kemsley and her dyspraxia happened around this time (which spawned some articles too).
+ Producers of Dr. Who announced their character, Ryan, has dyspraxia.
The Extra Spikes of Interest
I did a little bit of light digging and couldn’t really pin point an exact reason why there were spikes. There were articles dated around the time of the spike, so they could be a factor. Either that or dyspraxia was in the limelight and the articles were created to jump on that news.
+ An article was posted around this time (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/nov/27/dyspraxic-jobs)
+ An article was posted around this time that has over 50,000 views. (https://www.thejournal.ie/what-is-dyspraxia-2002762-Mar2015/)
What does this mean for dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is something that doesn’t hold up well on its own merits. Unlike other topics which are commingly researched and looked up, dyspraxia needs a motive for people to go researching. The countless people who take part in the awareness week, the ones creating posts and talking points, creating graphics or sharing these things on all help give the awareness for dyspraxia a little boost. However, for dyspraxia to get serious awareness and coverage it needs something bigger. Dyspraxia is a dark island in a vast ocean, it needs that beacon to shine to guide people towards it. That beacon could be anything, a celebrity, an individual who goes viral, or a fictional character. In short, someone in the mainstream media. Once they have the media’s attention they can wave that dyspraxia banner.
Is the awareness week pointless if it doesn’t go viral then?
I like to clarify something here. If dyspraxia goes viral for the right reason, then that would be a fantastic bonus. But exactly that, a bonus. For the moment, the awareness week helps in more personal ways. Whether that’s getting friends, family, and colleagues to know dyspraxia a little better or getting work-places, colleges, universies, and schools a chance to understand dyspraxia better. If there are more people with knowledge of dyspraxia or have learned something new coming out of the week than there was going in, then it has been a successful week.
What’s next for dyspraxia awareness?
We’ll continue to spread the word of dyspraxia all year round, with a big push during the Awareness Week(s). Slowly, we’re getting there. On the other hand, the stats tell us that dyspraxia gets a huge boost in awareness from a celebrity or character. What dyspraxia needs is more icons to step forward publicly about their dyspraxia. Fictional characters can really help awareness, so perhaps it’s about time we got a main character who’s dyspraxic.
Through my potential characters I create a link between certain fanbases and dyspraxia. Dyspraxia gets a more visual explanation when I bring to light certain dyspraxic attributes through these characters. However, as it is unofficial there is a limit to how far these characters can take awareness. There’s also a risk that they’ll rub some people up the wrong way, so it is something I’m afraid of promoting and pushing too much. It’s a fun past-time and a good talking point but they cannot be used as a totally serious awareness tactic. What we need are actual dyspraxic characters.
Awareness Week End
With the awareness week now drawing to a close, I want to thank everyone who took part. Whether you made posts, videos, created graphics, talked about dyspraxia with someone, liked/shared/commented on the various topics and thoughts, or even just spent time to read/understand dyspraxia-related content then a big thanks to you all. Every little helps the awareness week and dyspraxia get the recognition it deserves.
In the meantime, take care and see you next post!