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All my life, I have had to personally devise ways of coping with directional dyslexia. I didn’t know what it was, (till recently of course) but I knew I had to deal with it since it wouldn’t go away, try as I may. I discussed my experience with this disability here.

Rather than risk getting lost and panicking, I will jot down the direction, pay serious attention to landmarks and signs. Of course, when all fails, I will ask people for directions. Most people are willing to help though sometimes, I end up more confused or lost from wrong directions.

Short term memory issues are also part of my directional dyslexia. I make up for that disability with writing. If I don’t want to forget instructions, ideas, thoughts, and every other important stuff, I jot them down immediately before they get lost.

To distinguish my left from my right, I demonstrate eating or writing knowing I mostly eat with my right hand. No, you won’t notice nor understand what I am doing because I’ve become a professional at the acting. I recently learnt that the hand where your wristwatch usually resides can be a pointer too.

I still have fear for driving, though GPS seems like a cold comfort. Not like I can make head or tail of maps.

I have given up on distinguishing east from west or north from south, unless of course I see the sun setting.

There are many other minor coping skills that come in handy as each occasion demands. I’m still learning too because the skills are never enough.

Being rid of directional dyslexia will beat all the coping skills. Maybe researchers can help save our souls.


Difficulty Distinguishing Left From Right, Getting Lost Too Often? – Could be signs of Directional Dyslexia.

Difficulty with directions and locations, right and left, east and west, having short term memory, losing track and getting disoriented are all signs of directional dyslexia or geographic dyslexia. It may sound simple, but it is a complicated disability.

I thought it was a condition peculiar to me. I thought it was just me that find it difficult to differentiate my right from my left. When I tell close friends and even family that it I always have to discreetly lift my eating hand before I can recognize my right, they look at me aghast. So it felt like it was a ‘me’ thing.

Imagine my joy and peace when I recently discovered (thanks to a Quora user), that there is someone else on earth that has issues with directions, locations, sequences and such. I was elated. Yes, you will not understand how weird it is to move about in fear because you are likely to get lost and disoriented at the next intersection.

I learnt it is a condition christened directional dyslexia and so I stormed Google with that information. Lo and behold, there were many others with same handicap, most groping in the dark like me with so many questions and very few answers. I laughed so hard at the experiences of the others with directional dyslexia that I instantly felt an affinity. Some experiences were way weirder than mine; imagine a whole family getting lost always or not knowing where they packed their car, a car all of them alighted from previously.

My personal experiences are shameful, embarrassing and hilarious but I live to share it for others facing same predicament.

Buildings! Large buildings are my nightmare. There is a way they construct buildings in Eastern Nigeria, Onitsha precisely, that should be looked into, seriously. Don’t ask me to explain it, how do I explain what I don’t understand? A friend will tell you that she lives on the front flat of the second floor (two front, three back, as they term it) and expect me to waltz up to the right door and just knock.

Buildings in Onitsha


What do they know? I can barely distinguish which one is the second or third floor talk more of whether it is front or back. Lord have mercy. I cannot locate that apartment without assistance; it is as simple as that. You better come down and get me or else, I will climb a few flight of steps and call or ask, that is if there is someone around to ask. Otherwise, I might end up knocking on all the doors. This is not a one-time thing. Even homes that I have visited countless times, I find it difficult to locate the right floor and apartment without assistance.

School buildings, malls, large offices, hotels, hospitals, hostels, please number your buildings, it helps a bit. I am bound to get lost in the hallways, miss the exits (which is why I adore multiple exits), floors and rooms without assistance. Help a sister here and put some signs up. My first days in boarding house were not funny. What with all those bunks parked together, how do they expect one to know which one is her bunk or not? I got lost several times before I taught myself to look out for signs like my neighbor’s boxes and cupboards.

If buildings are this terrible, then roads are monsters especially when in a strange city.

Confusing road intersections


I’d rather pay a cab to take me everywhere even if I have to pay with my last dime. Attending a conference, I step out for fresh air, I majestically stroll few blocks away from he venue, bam, I cannot retrace my steps. I try to hold the rising panic in check as I try to mentally remember my bearing. My brain goes blank till I see a familiar sign or ask someone for direction. One thing with asking though, the Good Samaritan might say, ‘go left, then turn right at the intersection, walk a few yards and turn left again’. My oh my! That’s a whole lot of information to my befuddled brain. I will try and hold on to the first information for starters – go left. Cross the bridge when I get to the next intersection because I will not recall whether it was left or right that will follow. Short term memory issues here.

Approaching a well-known destination from a different route often proves disastrous as everything looks new and different. Getting lost becomes inevitable as panic follows closely behind. And please do not remove the signs and landmarks that help me navigate even the well-known routes or I’d get confused.

Sequence and logic are aliens with horns. Deciphering simple sequence of instructions, layouts, events, locations, logic, and such are uphill tasks. Visualize the big/whole picture thing is not for me, I’d rather take it one step at a time because that is all I can visualize.

Sometimes I wake up with zero sense of direction of where I am.

I panic because I cannot locate where I am or where the doors and walls are, completely disoriented. Everywhere looks vague till I am able to see through the windows or door. This is a room I have lived in for ages.

We come for a large gathering, park somewhere and in the middle of the program, I need to go back and get something from the vehicle. Geez, no one would understand the severity of that exercise. Finding a needle in a haystack is easier than locating where that vehicle is parked except I was careful enough to mark the position with some landmark.

My personalized Coping skills and more on geographic dyslexia coming up soon.

Do you know anyone with these issues? Are you a sufferer of directional dyslexia? Share your experiences with us. Come to think of it, we should form a support group.

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