The Software Development Industry, Dyspraxia and Me.
The Software Development Industry, Dyspraxia and Me.
A few weeks ago, our digital marketing executive, Gemma and junior software developer, Partrick joined together to write an article revoling around working with dyspraxia in the bespoke software development indsutry. The piece featured in the Dyspraxia Foundation June 2021 newsletter, but we would like to share it across our platform as well and share thier story.
Working for a bespoke software development company is incredible. At Clever Software Group, no day is the same. It is a very exciting time to be working within the software and technology industry; it is quickly evolving, as the world transitions into new and innovative digital working methods.
However, having dyspraxia and working within a fast paced environment can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Luckily I work within a very understanding team. Clever Software Group has currently adopted a hybrid working style – part of the custom software development team works remotely at home, whilst the rest work in a socially distanced office space, on alternative days of the week. My dyspraxia largely affects my time management and organization, meaning I can lose track of what time I’m meant to be in the office and on what day of the week. In time, this is something that I will become relatively used to, but a small transition period of feeling like a headless chicken will ensue for a little while.
My role within the bespoke software development company is as the digital marketing executive. I am responsible for the digital campaigns and social media, amongst other things. I was diagnosed with dyspraxia at the age of 20, whilst at university. I was ironically working on a piece of code that wasn’t functioning as it should. I couldn’t get my head around it and when I asked for help, my lecturer openly asked by me, in front of 70 other students, if I had ever been tested for dyslexia. It turns out I was getting certain letters mixed up, hence my code not working. Although it came from a very embarrassing situation, I arranged a test for dyslexia and in turn was diagnosed with both dyslexia and dyspraxia.
I had only heard a little about the condition from friends, but I was glad to finally understand why I approach certain activities, tasks and situations in different ways to others. You may be surprised to learn that I didn’t pursue a career in coding or software development, but I feel very fortunate to work within such an groundbreaking industry.
I recently discovered that a junior software developer I work with, Patrick, was diagnosed with verbal dyspraxia at around the age of 4. I know very few people with dyspraxia, let alone worked with someone that also has the condition – so in some way, this excited me a little. I was unaware that dyspraxia came in various forms, so I did some research. Verbal dyspraxia affects the way muscles around the mouth produce speech, whereas dyspraxia itself affects the way muscles produce movement and co-ordination, with various other symptoms attached.
Despite his early diagnosis, Patrick and his parents were told that he would most likely never achieve qualifications at school, or even get a job, because of the condition. However, Patrick’s parents knew that he would pursue a career in the field of computing and technology. When he was little, Patrick was coined ‘a little hacker’ by those close to him, showcasing a passion for knowledge when it came to coding, from a young age. Naturally, Patrick aspired for a career in software development. Having joined Clever Software Group in 2018 as an apprentice software developer, Patrick graduated from his apprenticeship with flying colours, in the midst of a global pandemic in the summer of 2020. He was not going to let dyspraxia, or Covid-19, stand in the way of his goals.
When asked what it was like to work with verbal dyspraxia within the custom software industry, Patrick said it can be very challenging at times, but having a structured routine in place helps no bounds. This is an opinion I share very closely with Patrick – a regular routine helps me manage my dyspraxia more than anything else. Patrick also expressed that his concentration can sometimes waver during long periods of focus, again something we both share in common.
As a bespoke software developer, Patrick’s role within Clever Software Group is very client-based, often requiring interaction with stakeholders. “I just have to think about tactics to get my words across in a different way, to help clients understand what I’m trying to say”, says Patrick, “I often type up emails after meetings or presentations, to express what I mean, just in case I’ve been misunderstood. I don’t think any of the clients I work with know that I have verbal dyspraxia, but this doesn’t bother me.”
As for myself, I try and think of dyspraxia as a capability, not disability. I am so conscious and aware of how bad my time management and organization skills are, that I overengineer and pre-plan every little detail of my day. I’m not even going to begin to talk about my co-ordination skills, that’s a whole other ballpark. However, there is always a lot going on with my job at Clever Software Group. I rely heavily on my notebook and diary, to accurately record and write down everything, not to miss anything out. I am often exhausted by the end of the day, due to the amount of focus and energy I have to put into tasks and remain on track. It may take me a little longer to complete things, but I know I have put my all into it and accomplished a task to the best of my abilities, to achieve good results from the work I do.
Water cooler moments and conversations act as gentle respite throughout the day and allow me to reset my focus, whilst working in the office. Consistency is often key with dyspraxia, in general. I definitely find it easier to work and concentrate within an office environment, whilst Patrick finds it better to work within the familiar surroundings of his home setup.
When asked if he had any advice for anyone with dyspraxia, verbal or otherwise, who wish to work within the software development industry, Patrick said “Don’t let it put you off. Dyspraxia is only a weakness some of the time, but it is more of a strength. I don’t see if as an impairment, just more of a hurdle. You might hit it on the way, but that won’t stop you from trying again.”
This is a very nice remark to end on. A hurdle can be easily overcome, and so can dyspraxia.
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