Ellie has said from a very young age that she felt ‘different’. She was sure that something ‘had happened’ to her at birth because she ‘felt like an odd piece of a jig saw puzzle’. She just knew.
And we all, yes all denied her that perfectly valid personal insight by thinking AND telling her that she was being awkward, difficult, challenging, spoilt, emotional and ridiculous, always feeling something wasn’t ‘right’ with her wiring indeed! What a little diva! I feel emotional now even admitting that I lost my temper with her at times. When she had so many friendship fallouts over the years I once said to her that it must be her who indeed WAS weird. I blush in that knowledge, now that I know.
She has always been a performer, and loved appearing on stage from age 3 where she played No 1 pumpkin at the harvest festival then progressing to the eponymous Little Angel nativity play when she was 5. Her drama teacher advised us, after that stellar performance, that we just had to ensure she carried on performing, either musically or acting, as she had an immense natural stage presence. We just knew that this was going to be her path, perhaps more than her hobby. We could see that this was where she was happiest and most confident – and talented. That epiphany was to guide us forwards into the world of film and theatre. (And near financial ruin!)
She felt bullied. I’ve felt she was being bullied on many occasions, but now I realise that, although many incidents were totally nasty and uncalled for, most of the incidents in her life were the normal cut and thrust of lippy or confident children jostling and shoving for a pivotal place in the pecking order of the classroom. I now realise that very often it was actually Ellie’s perception of what the girls (some boys too) were saying or doing that was causing the feeling of being bullied and made fun of. I’ve ended that sentence on a preposition but I’m writing as I feel!
All Ellie wanted was to have a ‘best friend’ who would love her like she loved them, and she did love quite a few friends from the age of 3 onwards. She wanted them to show loyalty and not to suddenly be nasty, ignore her, turn away from her, to be someone she could trust wouldn’t let her down when she needed a friend in that chaotic, stressful world of growing up. Sadly, that isn’t real life and she was hurt time and time again.
Now I realise that she didn’t have the ability to get over the hurt she felt, it cut her right to the heart and she has sobbed so many rivers over the years. The only times Ellie has been truly happy and not felt threatened by the capriciousness of other children has been at home secure with us, or on stage or film, playing a role usually with adults who always like and respect her, as she is a very enchanting, funny, bright and talented young lady.
This is my beautiful and loving daughter, Ellie. She was (in January, 2015, at the age of 15) diagnosed as severely Dyspraxic and Dyslexic. And you know what? She was delighted, liberated from the fears and turmoil of just knowing that there was something not quite right in her ‘wiring,’ as she put it. It’s something she can’t help, something that she, and we, have to work with and through and around. Together we are doing just that and her future seems even brighter now that we all understand it’s ok if she doesn’t like tight skinny jeans (she looks amazing in them too!!), can’t read or spell as well as she would like, will only eat a selection of (mostly healthy) foods, doesn’t see her untidy bedroom (that could be a teenage vision also, but hers is definitely a vision that just doesn’t register the mess), whose motor skills are such that she can’t process what she has heard quickly enough to write it down in her Year 10 GCSE classes. Her short term memory is diabolical but……so what! I’m so cool with that now. And now that she understands herself, her confidence with friends has gone through the roof and she is working on being tolerant and accepting that not everyone has to be the same as her (hating smoking, drinking, the usual teenage rebellious acts are not for her – now I’m proud of her taking that stance!)
My annoyance is why the hell did no-one flag this up before now?!!! She has changed schools a number of times, but that isn’t a valid excuse for the professionals who indeed said to me on many occasions ‘are you sure it’s not just Ellie’s perception that she is being ignored/left out/made to feel so alone?’
Surely that is one of the signs of a child with Dyspraxia? Then my girl would have been saved years of stress worrying that she was a disappointment to us, worrying daily that friends were going to be nasty to her, worrying that she couldn’t read as much as she wanted…… and yet her school reports have always been excellent. It’s now that the workload has cranked up for GCSE that she started to have a meltdown over the work, but her school have now been wonderful and educational support is all there.
So, Ellie, aged 15, shortly after her diagnoses, wrote a short film. It’s called ‘Taciturn’ and I think it’s moving, heart felt and bloody marvellous! It is about being a teen, trying to fit in, trying to be moral and standing up for others (in this film it’s her sister and a girl in her class who are autistic and being picked on). I decided that it deserved to be brought to life and I’m co producing it, the first I’ve ever done, but I’ve been on so many film sets with Ellie that I’ve made great contacts and picked up what needs to be done, plus my background is in events management. We are shooting on July 27th 2015 for 4 days!!
I’d love you to take a look at our Indiegogo campaign, where you will meet Ellie herself and she will tell you all about her film. After all, it’s her work - and boy does it come from her heart.
I think that this is an amazing story, and if you'd like to find out more and see Ellie talk about her film project, and perhaps support it, please click on the link below.