Digitally Determined: Dyspraxia and Digital Literacy

Looking back at my journey through the world at technology, I notice the marks of dyspraxia. I may not have known I had it at the beginning but when thinking about it the affects are all over my technological timeline even before diagnosis at thirteen. But let's start at the beginning as all stories do.


If there's one thing I find willingness to laugh at myself for is my choice in naming my Webkinz. Of course I named my first Webkinz a white bunny, Snowflake and my second, a brown horse, Molasses. I had to create a new account when I got my second WebKins. This was the side affect of forgetfulness as I couldn't remember my password. Here, my functional literacy failed as I could not use the "writing" function as typing to get into my accounts. This taught me that keeping a log of passwords might be a smart choice. I still sometimes forget to write down passwords still, but nobody's perfect (cue old Hannah Montana track). I learned how socioculturally there's an expectation that one goes to the doctor. This came through the fact that sometimes you had to your WebKinz to the doctor (who was a duck so I guess I took my pet to Dr. Quack. I am not sure that was wise). The graphics now looking back were pretty rudimentary. I did learn however how to take care of an animal or pet even though I did have live one at that time.


My Next foray in technology was the Tiger Electronics game Dream Life. I created multiple profiles overtime as I finished game after game. However, it seemed that the game's cpu's were stereotypical at least in look to what races looked like. Additionally, the quotes were always the same. It reinforced the sense that immediately when meeting the other gender you must first consider romantic feeling. The sociocultural literacy of shopping where sales were or of getting a job was highlighted her. Sometime I would find myself hitting the wrong buttons on the remote.



Further down the line came Dream Life Superstar. Functionally I had similar issues with this as with Dream Life. Also many of the sociocultural literacy aspects were the same. However, this taught me thinking back the from a critical literacy perspective those with more money and fame historically get more attention so therefore you should aspire to be such a person. Also the setting was a beach town which held many different sociocultural aspects than did Dream Life. Many of the bathing suits you could purchase from the beach side stores showed off the skin. Which from a critical perspective highlights how even to today women's bodies are often seen as objects to get looked at.


Well, if anything was as unsurprising as me forgetting a password, It would be me asking for a kindle. This opened up the world of e-books to me. Though, I still prefer physical books I am not opposed to a e-book from time to time. Of course, as outside forces, mostly common sense, lack a bit and I broke it within a month of owning it, It did teach me a lot. Critically it taught me that pages may differ between e-text and physical. It also taught me how to use search applications to discover new stories. Socioculturally It taught me that e-books were their own market. Also sometimes it was hard for me to use the highlight feature because I would lift up my fingers too early or tap the wrong word to begin with and the highlight would begin before or after where I wanted it to. This was also the first piece of technology that I used post-diagnosis of dyspraxia.

It's not too shocking that school, the place where I learn the traditional functional literacy would inform further my digital literacy. Though, computer class had been a part of my academic experience thus far, in 2014, high school would require me to enter the world of tablets with the iPad. This would also open up my world to the multiplicity of apps out there. I would often have issue switching between apps. Also I would learn the sociocultural meanings behind having apps for social media and games that were popular. I would be further engrossed in a way in the world of internet gaming. Though, only through access to social media. I guess you good say that the iPad set me up with social media (pun unintended).




Talking about how the iPad introduced me to social media, I almost immediately downloaded facebook. Of course as you can imagine like any wide-eyed fifteen year old who had thus far been denied social media the first profile picture was far from spectacular. Though in some ways having Facebook meant I was on the social media bandwagon. I also was left out of the loop for a time as I had no instagram. I learned the art of "friending" and "blocking" (that's an interesting story of why I had to that's for another time). Socioculturally, I now had to learn what a hashtag was and what it meant. I learned that sometimes putting words online can be quite tricky. Also I learned how to navigate making albums of photos in my profile.


Then came the wondrous landscape known as Instagram. Of course my first post is the cringy post of any overzealous 15-year-old. Instagram taught me the skills of combining photos into collages (technically this belongs to piccollage, but that's not included here). From a critical perspective, Instagram taught me how social media was advancing. From stories to top nine, I learned much. I learned more about replying to comments. Also there was a sense that those who had been there longer knew more or had better posts. It also taught me how to use @ for including people in posts. I also learned the art of following back. I also learned that you must post photos of vacations in the moment. There was also a visual literacy of the ads that popped up or certain advertisements on popular stars accounts. There was also videos and the art of making a story. Also I had to decide what made the most sense to post to a story (this ended up being a lot of videos that weren't clear or of weddings).



Ok so to some I came quite late in the fourth quarter to the iPhone game. I mean it was 2017 for the love of technology. I also got the oldest model (which I actually don't mind). It taught me the schematics of smartphones. With each IOS update (which seemed to come out every six months. just like a version of the iPhone), I learned a new skill. Some how learned how to use the alarm function. Socioculturally, I learned that having an older iPhone model meant I was behind, but also that I had more problems. I learned how to navigate touch id (which always seemed to forget my fingerprint or wouldn't allow me to resave my fingerprint). I often couldn't get (or seemed unable to) my finger in the right position to allow the phone to read it. Additionally, downloading apps made me realize that a limited amount of space existed in the phone (even if I forgot that sometimes). Also the voice texting is often hard for me. Dyspraxia causes me to have a difficult time forming words with my mouth muscles. The voice texting and predictive text often feel like the enemy. Talking too fast means it just becomes gibberish while taking it slow and trying to enunciate causes words to have spaces where there shouldn't be. Talking at normal speed predictive text often makes mistakes anyways so I have accept the reality of having to edit my text before sending them. Though even just not using the accessibility functions on the phone have given me much insight. Often my fingers will press in between two icons so both letters or the letter that I do not intend to type will appear. I really can't walk and text because my fingers have as bad a memory or maybe worse than my mind and will inevitably hit the wrong letter when I am not looking at the screen. Well, at least I could do a laptop or could I?


Ironically, I can definitely say that high school taught me brand loyalty. Mac desktops littered the school not to say pcs weren't there but perhaps not as much. Working already with the iPad made transitioning to the desktop much easier. Well, then there was the MacBook. My first time using a mac laptop came during my senior year. I took it home to edit photos using photoshop. Using this program in particular, taught me the ethics of what photojournalists do. Also as sometimes I shot photos for the yearbook, I learned that different aspects of journalism had different rules. The Newspaper could "play" with the photo a little more than yearbook could (though the Yearbook was printed though the same people who did the class rings so...). Using editing software brought to the knowledge that perhaps I didn't one hundred precent understand the power that photoshop had. Socioculturally, I started to understand that one picture purposefully edited could do much good or much bad. Critically, I saw that the powerful could use photography to their advantage at least looking back I know that. Then I purchased my own MacBook or rather my parents purchased the MacBook Air that I am currently typing on as a graduation gift. Having this mobile device perhaps means that I have fallen into the hands of the corporate moguls at Apple. It's quite ironic to say the least I thought I would outright love any MacBook I would own after my experience in high school (oh eighteen year old Mary how wrong you were). This actually did increase as sense of multimodality. With the split screen function, I can be reading a document in one window while typing a response in Word in another. Which brings me to another thing. With Apple having power I see that it makes it hard to download Microsoft. Also Safari is as good a browser as I first thought, but you have to jump through hoops to get other browsers. In my opinion having a personal computer has to some extent helped my typing skills. Though similar to the phone I cannot type too fast or I make too many mistakes. Mostly these mistakes come in letter reversals or words missing (don't you just hate it when you mind moves faster than your fingers).

Though I know I have much more to learn in my journey with the digital world and that while technology such as voice-to-text or note taking software may help those with Dyspraxia not all technology is 100 percent helpful. Voice texting software on cellphones doesn't always type the write word for even those who don't have dyspraxia. Nothing is a catch all and that's fine because I am digitally determined.