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September 23, 2006

Comments

Ann S.

I have this, too, and thought it might be an aspect of my inattentive type ADHD. It takes forever for me to form any sort of mental map. I've lost my car in numerous parking lots and have nightmares about not being able to get back to my locker, classroom, dorm, hotel room, etc...and I'm 34 years old with a PhD. I also wondered if it was somehow tied to mathematical ability, as I've always been good with quantitative analytical tasks. I do tend to "zone out" if someone else is driving or leading the way, but even putting all of my attention toward navigation doesn't work as well as normal people perform on autopilot. It's exhausting and embarrassing in new environments. I ask for help a lot. I also couldn't learn dance choreography or basketball plays fast enough to keep up even putting in extra time after practice. Despite interest and physical ability I gave up and fell in love with running track.

Mo

It was interesting reading the comments. Directional dyslexia exists on a spectrum, apparently.

Since most people have already shared their accounts of getting lost on the road, or not being able to navigate their way around a place they've been to a zillion times, I thought I'd share a few other ways in which this wiring affects me/us(?):

1) Following along in an aerobics/kickboxing/dance class, where the teacher is facing us, so opposite limbs are moving. Most of the time they're mirroring us, but the TURNS is where I get thrown off (EVERY TIME). If they twirl clockwise, count on me doing the opposite.

2) Tying knots. I love knots. They're so useful in life, and when I'm watching loops being formed, my brain sort of just blacks out or can't register which way the rope is being twisted or turned. So frustrating. I don't seem to be able to form muscle memory for how I created twists and loops in rope, thread, etc., so it's hard to be consistent, say if I need to create two of something symmetrically. It's that whole mirror-image thing that eludes my brain.

3) Can't tell which way a garment will end up when I turn it inside out, outside in, etc. I saw that there were others in the comments who also use mnemonic devices to remember the orientation of something, but it never becomes intuitive. When I'm trying to sew, and I have to be able to picture how the fabric pieces will come together, that's sheer torture (gotta have that seam ripper handy). I feel like my brain's broken, and it's frustrating that I can't bang my head against something to remove that fuzz or static (like an old TV set, where a few bangs against the edges would restore reception).

As many others have also shared, I'm high-functioning in other areas of my life, so as far as "handicaps" go, this is pretty mild. I can come up with workarounds for most things, but it's tough having that low ceiling for pursuits for which greater progress is desired.

DK

I have been worse at directions whether on road or inside a building. My friends would laugh at me as I would not be able to guide them to my house if I ever needed a drop off. My husband would scream at me on the road for my directionless personality if I was ever guiding him to a place of my interest. Many times he lost his patience behind the wheel, as I would FREEZE if he would ever ask me for help with directions. I was surprise how my & yr old girl who has so many other problems is so good at directions. And today I don't know how I bumped into this thread and realized that it's a problem and not just something that I have much control on.... I am often embarrassed because of this issue of directionlessness that I have...

Brandon

I relate to all these post except the question on guitar (I can smoke the strings but sometimes cross the notes on my scales. I have no problem reading but when I type my letters get crossed. Horrible speller!! Process take a while to sink in to my skull such as new computer programs. Directions is horrible. My wife is my human GPS when she is not there my real GPS stays plugged in 24/7. Has anyone looked at some of the Dyslexia exercises that I have been seeing for kids? Have they helped for direction or anything else?

Tima Priess

how does "diretional dysfunction" relate to being unable to learn something like guitar or knitting while facing the teacher? I can't find any links and this has been a life long problem.

Jo Brettell UK

*dyspraxia not dysplasia

Jo Brettell UK

I wish there was more research into this. I suffer with this really badly and I actually find it really distressing and sometimes life limiting. I'm 44 and I've just built up the courage to go travelling. Up until now I've been so phobic about getting lost that it's held me back. Even though I'm currently in NZ, I'm still not doing all the hikes and walks I'd really love to do through fear of getting incredibly lost. I sometimes think it must be what the first stages of dementia is like, in that I know I should know but I just don't...if that makes sense. It makes me cross with myself but worse than that, makes me feel rising panic and huge anxiety. My family now give it more credence since my niece also displays exactly the same symptoms. I've heard it's a type of dysplasia...is this true. I'd really like it to be treated more seriously so that I can be given strategies. Like someone previously mentioned GPS- I frequently say to my friends that Sat Nav has literally saved my life and given me much more freedom because I'm actually adventurous at heart but without that and Google maps, I wouldn't go anywhere!

Teresa

We were in Utah. My husband and I. Skiing down a trail we’d just done about a dozen times. He was right in front of me. Came to what should have now been a “familiar” fork in the trail. He was nowhere in sight. I panicked and took the wrong turn. He could not believe I took the wrong turn. His bewildered exclamation “BUT HONEY WE DID THIS RUN A MILLION TIMES!” just left me feeling so…you know.

I’m a professional 54-year-old woman. I hold an MA in Education. I excel in many things. Directions are not one of them. We recently moved from NYC to the country. I bought myself a beautiful new car equipped with GPS. I am a good driver. It’s the directions that boggle my mind. Although I am grateful that the GPS voice is a calm and soothing female voice, it does little to help me with my complete angst when I am behind the wheel asking her “What?!!! This turn or the next one?!!!” God forbid I choose the wrong turn! I spend hours on Google maps charting, printing and memorizing directions, only to start my journey and have all the roads turn to spaghetti in my head!

I am so deeply grateful to have found this site. I am so comforted to know that I am not alone.

D

What a relief to find that this isn't just a unique "quirk" of mine! At 27 I've been dealing with this my entire adult life, and it can be a real cause for embarrassment and anxiety. Recently a bus driver (new to the route) told me that he might need directions after I told him I take that bus daily. Luckily I didn't need to step in, but I immediately felt nauseous knowing that I wouldn't have the slightest clue what direction to point him in. Considering he knew that I took the route often, I knew I'd look particularity stupid if I led a whole busload of people astray! After this incident I tried to pay more attention to the route, but it didn't help much.

When I'm inside a building and gesture to landmarks or directions outside, I'm usually always completely off (leaving people with a confused look on their face). For the most part I've learned that it's just the way I'm wired. My close friends and family know that I'm not very good with directions, but it can be frustrating and hurtful when they trade "funny stories" about my lack of spatial awareness. All I can say is thank god I live in the age of Google Maps!

Jill Sharp

I'm so happy to know I'm not alone in having this problem. I have always been afraid to go anywhere new on my own for fear I would get lost. Walking into an unfamiliar building gives me a feeling of minor panic. My husband and I go on cruises and even at the end of our vacation I cannot figure out which direction the front of the ship is in. My husband patiently tests me when we want to head back to our cabin and I fail 95% of the time....The other 5% is just luck because I'm just guessing.
I'm 57 years old and I still struggle with reading. Words seems to move around on the page making reading exhausting for me. I often wondered if my directional struggles was somehow linked with how challenging reading is for me.

Kwame

Amazing, there are people out there with similar experience as me. I am just from the GP and been referred to a neurologist . The Doctors had absolutely no idea what was wrong with me initially when I visited . It took a second attempt for the newly arrange doctor to first referred me to an optician who resolved my eyes were completely healthy and suggested a brain scan or dyslexia. I decided to do a bit of search myself and here iam with this amazing result! GEOGRAPHICAL DYSLEXIA....... Iam 35 now and had lived with this condition as far as I could remember back from Africa. I count myself fortunate to realise it whiles taking my Msc in Scotland Aberdeen. The situation intensified once I got here and being new to the place. imagine the frustration and loneliness i've been through all this while. I guess if there is any effort out there , im happy to be a part and support.

Cleo

I am 58 years old.I have been made fun of my entire life for this.I lived in embarassment.I could not fugure out why.I graduated high school and attended college so could I have been stupid.Straight shoots are ok.Making several turns confuses me or big buildings.I too get very nervous.I think I anticipate getting list or fear someones reaction.I came across this last night.My husband and I had gone to Baton Rouge,where I lived most of my life but only could get bits and pieces of city.I sat at home and thought there has got to be a reason and name for this condition.

Anthony J Pummill

I have what I consider to be this but I don't get lost I just have to go to Maps upside down south is north in North and South for me. Oddly enough though east and west do not mix me up maybe but I have something different in this I don't know I know it is I get lost if I look at a map right side up?

Emma

I came to your page for this article. I have this exact condition. I'm white American female in my 30s and it's always been like this...My coping mechanism is to take planes...because planes never asked you "how to get there?" Or "what road should I take?" ...I ended up having an international Job which takes me all around the planet and therefore I use planes, not cars...I never drive a car myself. I can't even navigate inside my house where I live for years. In all other areas I'm very sharp and successful.

Erin

Glad to know there are others out there. At 66 I should be used to it. But it seems age has brought a lot of frustration so now when I end up lost, I find myself in tears . I am severely challenged and always have to write down landmarks wherever I park or turn. God help me if I ever have to take a different route than the one I have memorized. I also,get sick of being the butt of jokes.


Gabriela H.

I have always had this problem but I could be more aware of it when I came to the US to live here.... everything is a lot bigger than where I come from so I can really really GET LOST... it is so embarrassing to be unable to explain to somebody where I live or when I am in the car with them and they expect me to tell them where my house is... this is just so embarrassing that I sometimes look/sound like a total idiot. I don't consider myself an idiot and, in fact, I have accomplished important things in my life but before I started to even read about this 'Condition' I sometimes felt like telling people: Sorry but I am just DUMB when it comes to mapping! haha.
Well there are more like us out there so please keep sharing your experiences and please let us know of any book that can help us get better at mapping and get a better sense of direction. It is OK to know and admit to our problems but IT IS NOT OK to not do anything about it!

FChap

My mother had this. So did my ex husband. We went back to a house he'd lived in for two years to pick up some stuff and then walk back to the bus stop - he turned the wrong way even though he used the bus every day when he used to live there!
In the days before sat nav he got to be not too bad as long as he was concentrating but if he was tired or had had a drink - hopeless. Now I think he just relies on sat nav the whole time. Not so good if you punch in the wrong postcode. When we got divorced he showed up in court on the second day late because he'd typed the wrong post code into the sat nav - which I don't think the judge or any one else believed. They're thinking to themselves that's not a good excuse you were just here yesterday.
I think people with this disability should be much more up front about it as it might help others to be more understanding. For years you guys have struggled in silence and tried not to let it show and I think that might not be the best way to get this condition recognised.

Always babkward

So glad to see all the posts. Thought I was just stupid. Get lost so easy, have to use markers or get turned around. Have to drive to a place several times to get used to the route and not feel lost. Cant go an alternate route cause feel like I'm getting lost and second guess the direction and then ultimately go wrong direction. It is worse with judgemental folks in the car. Ugg, wish there was a cure.

Richard Henderson

It is somewhat comforting to know that others suffer from this same malady. I remember being 18 and going on a job interview and going the complete opposite way on the highway and trying to reverse my handwritten directions to find my way back home. I crossed state lines that day and cancelled my interview after being extremely behind on time. (No loss, it was with Cut Co, one of those pyramid scheme companies.) It has made me nervous with job ventures, especially any job that would entail me driving or carpooling with others. I have developed a comfort with all my good friends where they are completely aware of my full reliance on GPS or them to get me from point A to point B-Z... but occasionally when I'm driving with people I don't normally drive with they can be amazed that I don't know how to get to the highway from within a town I have lived in for years. I never thought to google this condition because I figured either I was alone in the matter or that there was no cure for it so why bother, but I did like reading a bunch of these comments. I used to think it stemmed from me being hit in the head with a baseball bat by accident as a kid lol, I had a fractured skull and had a lingering thought in the back of my head that I had done some nerve damage to the area of my brain in charge of directions. Anyways, just wanted to add my two cents. Cheers everyone!

barbara

It was great to read these posts although i have known all my life that i'm not the only one with this problem. i have been getting lost all of my life i did learn to drive. eventually i don't know north from south and have been called stupid but i know i'm not I just have no sense of direction so i have learned to live with it. I tell people when i have to go somewhere new so they are on standby to help re a phone call . I have other good skills and have had a good career and my people skills are good and I remember peoples names/numbers conversations that happened twenty years ago and everything important so i try not to beat myself up about my problem as i have realised that it is not my fault and i am not stupid. so I hope this may help someone else to cope i would love to have a sense of direction even a small one but i could have a more serious problem so im grateful and just have to accept ill continue getting lost! most of the time

Doug Bair

As I've been reading the comments above, it occurred to me that, especially since this symptomology has not been studied, that we are probably mixing symptoms of other difficulties with the common traits that we share. Also, there well may be variations of directional dyslexia (the term I prefer-I think it has more romance). I noticed various compensations that are used. Some work for one person but not another. One possible reason might be that we all have particular styles of learning. they are: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic (touching to learn a concept). A person can also have a combination. I'm am generally visual. I have to picture something to understand or memorize it. I generally have no problem with "left" or "right" but with compass directions I have to picture a map, and "see" north. I then determine the other directions from "north". One who is kinesthetic would have to feel their hand or something they associate with "left" and "right". One who is visual might need to look at a map, or something of the sort. I, as one person above discovered, that a positive of this disability is to find places we never would have seen otherwise. I've done this driving as well as walking. I am turned around if more than 1 or 2 blocks from my point of origin. I have to retrace my steps to find my way back. I've learned to accept that I'm going to be nervous and anxious-it helps a little. Something unusual-I do occasional community theatre. If on a small stage I have no problem with "left" and "right". On a large stage I'm lost and have to ask which direction to move. I used to live in Denver and could eventually find my way if I could see the mountains. But then I moved into the mountains. It took me a number of years to understand which mountain peaks were east or west of me. I love to travel by car and explore. But it used to drain the experience when it took so long to find anything, or especially find my way back to the motel. Thank god for global positioning!

Doug Bair

I've had this condition all my life. My dad use to yell at me when I'd make wrong turns (he was always oriented-couldn't make a wrong turn is he tried). I'm a psychotherapist, and have worked with developmental disorders in others. But I always thought there was something wrong with me until it occurred to me that I had a symptomology that can be described and is consistent. At that point, I considered myself as having a learning disorder (just to give it a name of some sort). I recently visited my brother, and he used the term, "geographic dyslexia". That told me that, since there is a term floating around, others have the same or similar symptoms. I copied all the comments, as a support, and will read your other articles. Thanks

scott

well my friend, I don't find too much that is wrong with me haveing what you might say is directional dylexia.
I found this article by typing how come there are so many stupid , dumb drivers in my way.
So I am always, like you, going the wrong way and late for stuff. But I aint like that no more.
So I telling you and anybody else that you can over come these obsticles.
Thanks for your time. amen.

Neeta Khanuja

I never knew there are so many people who face the same problem as I do. I can never even retrace my steps back to the entrance in a large building, even if I have been there before. I found it very embarrassing and would pretend I know what I am doing while secretly trying to figure out where I should be heading to get out. Does anyone here think an assitive tool should be designed to address this problem. And if it is, then will it be helpful or make us more dependent? I thought I should design something for this for myself but when I tried to search for the reason I came across this thread which proves I am not the only one.

Jonny

I'm another lost person. I can't get around town, but I can play Chopin's Military Polonaise from memory.

Robb Dew

I'm an author as well as a very close friend of Anne Tyler's, and she and I have talked for years about this shared condition. She suffers terribly from it, because, despite knowing she suffers from a real disability, she feels that if she only tried harder she could master it. I have taken to being "out of the closet" about my directional disability, but it has caused me truly terrible problems all my life! I dropped out of college because I couldn't find my classes on the enormous campus of LSU. I have avoided accepting the National Book Award for my first novel, "Dale Loves Sophie to Death." I have declined to accept honorary degrees, because I know I will get lost and that no amount of explaining that I REALLY can't find my destination will be intuitively understood and believed. Now, at age 68, I'm at work on a "sort-of" autobiography, and I'm searching for some hard facts on my disability as I wrestle with the slow realization that I have missed many opportunities because of this condition. I also am not good at arranging events in chronological order, alphabetizing, or date-of-the-year-keeping. I would be so grateful if anyone who has more information about this disorder would contact me.( robbdew@me.com). Many thanks, Robb Forman Dew

Tricia Hoffman

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I've wondered if I was just one of two people in the world (besides my chiropractor) who has this directional dyslexia, which really can be a disability, as you say. I'm 68 years old and have had this strange affliction all my life. Learning left from right was a challenge and forget about East and West (which, to me, are just points on a compass, not directions!)! I've actually even gotten lost in my own house once, if you can believe THAT! I've compensated by writing directions down both coming and going to places where I'm unfamiliar. I've even gotten lost with GPS's as they're not always correct. Even Mapquest has steered me wrong. I haven't travelled much in my life as I experience a lot of anxiety when in unfamiliar surroundings. I also enjoy hiking, but won't hike alone because if I come to a fork in the road, I know I'll get lost, never to be found again. And yes, people have made fun of me. One friend said I have the WORST sense of direction of anyone she's ever met. As one person commented, I, too, was switched at school from being a left-handed writer to right handed. I am now "hand specific." Some things I do exclusively as a righty, some exclusively as a lefty and in some areas I'm ambidextrous. It does get confusing as I've played many different sports in my life and I never know in which had to hold the racquet, paddle, bat, bow, etc. or which had to throw a baseball, frisbee or bowling ball. It's been an interesting journey... but, a very long and winding road (as the song goes).

Linda

I have also always had this condition. My theory is that the part of our brains that serves as a compass is somehow defective. I have gotten turned around even on familiar routes, the opposite direction of what feels right is typically right and my kids know to stop assuming I can find my way once I declare that my brain is 'snow-globe-ed,' or totally mixed up.

Stephanie Nguyen

I love this thread because it's comforting to know there are people out there like me who have trouble getting oriented or knowing how to navigate (especially on foot!) I'm building a mobile app called Landmark, a navigation app for walking that uses crowdsourced photos of buildings and landmarks to help you get from point A to point B. "Turn left at the Starbucks... in 4 blocks take a right at the National Building Museum, etc."

We'd love for you to help us become beta testers of the product! If you live in a walking city, please sign up to help us test the app at www.landmarkdirections.com.

Lynneedwards1@hotmail.co.uk

My husband is 68 and a law graduate so not exactly unintelligent but clearly has 'no map in his head'. He cannot say what room is above him when watching TV or what bedroom is above the kitchen. I asked where his bedroom is and he points to the diagonally opposite part of the house. He can't even tell me what garden he looks out of from his bedroom despite having lived here for 10 years. This used to be a bit endearing if frustrating at times as his wife ( having to point out that to get to Scotland on the motorway we had to take the M1 north not south from London among other astonishing compensations for his frequent lapses of common sense) but the other day I found an occurrence even more worrying and assumed it to be the result of alcohol and nicotine abuse all his adult life. I now wonder if this syndrome and the frustration it may have caused him when the child of an extraordinarily clever but stern father have contributed to his psychological problems. Is this also anyone else's experience? And does it appear to others that there is no map in the head? Many thanks. I will try and be more patient with him now that I realise he may have a serious innate issue with this aspect of thinking.

Michaela Howden

hi All I have this too and have always felt different and so stupid,,, one day I was watching an episode of Doctors and I learned it was a real condition I was so relived as I get lost anywhere and have really struggled with left right and north south east west ect..... get lost often in my own Town as well as buildings as well as houses sometimes....... I have set up a Group on Face book for people to chat and learn more about it I would value your opinion please feel free to join it is called "Directional Disability I look forward to talking you.............. kayla

Rathnam

Glad to have found this blog- I am 54 and very poor at directions. When I moved house, it took me a few years to figure out where the roads near my house are. I once went to someone's apartment and it was not a big one and could not find my way out- stood by a bedroom door thinking it was the door out!
I am pretty organised and that helps me to cope with my muddle headedness. It is an amazing world with so many different types of intelligence and coping mechanisms. We are unique beings and it is interesting to find out more about ourselves through blogs like this one.

Joy MacCue

I had never heard of direction disability until the writer Mary Hunt mentioned it in her article from "Everyday Cheapskate". I am in my late 70's and just thought it was old age I was experiencing. Whenever I leave the house, I have to mentally try and remember which way to go even when I have been there frequently. Thanks for the clarification!

MarJean Peters

Wow! It's not just me! I'm 66 years old and felt so stupid all my life because I had such a hard time with directions. Many stories of feeling stupid growing up simply because it took me so long to figure out directions, telling time, etc.. I had to write my name in the air to figure out which was my right. My husband is excellent in directions and takes such good care of me so I rarely drive, and my family lovingly makes fun of me for not driving. I'm so embarrassed not to know my way around places I've lived for years. However, I'm a good driver but terrified of getting lost. I also discovered, to my great relief and delight, that I have a high IQ. Years of feeling stupid can take their toll on our level of confidence. Maybe I'm not too old and it's not too late to give myself some grace after reading these blogs. Thank you all!!

L. Gilbert

I started out not being able to pass Geometry, although straight A's in Algebra! - couldn't see triangles hiding behind other triangles! It has gotten worse over the years - I put the address labels and stamps on the wrong side of the letters, hang clothes backwards on hangers. Cannot find my way anywhere unless I draw a map and practice driving it, so I can memorize the buildings where I turn. Do not know right from left,or understand "inhale" and "exhale." Can't turn R or L in car - just go straight ahead. If I get one street off my planned route, I'm dead! Must park in same place in mall parking lot or memorize the clothing at the entrance. Worst - in France, I went down to middle of village to use the bathroom and the next thing I knew, I was walking down a highway with cars going 60 MPH next to me. I stopped and realized I was on a highway, not going back to my car. Reversed my way along some hedges. Walked for two hours. Found car.Then I realized that I had exited out of the plaza bathroom the wrong way! Can't find a doctor's office in a med. bldg and checkbooks are completely beyond me. Have only met one person who had this. It's getting worse too.

Susan Chester

I was so happy when I read the Accidental Tourist. It was the first time I heard of somebody else suffering from this. I moved a lot as a child and always blamed it on that. I have quit driving because the stress is too much.

Elizabeth

I've never been good with directions and have had to concentrate hard to not get lost. My daughter is much worse. At first I thought it was because she was always in the back seat and couldn't see where we were going, but after sitting in the front seat for years, she still doesn't know where anything is. She was very nervous before starting at a large high school. After going to orientation, the anxiety was much worse because she knew she couldn't find her way around. We went back to the school and got permission to walk around and find her classes. She ended up mapping the school and her routes on the different days, and she was fine. The next year, her school refused to provide a schedule before school started because she wasn't a new student. Fortunately, she was part of a program, and I got someone to send her schedule so that she could map out her classes again. Her father had face blindness, which our daughter doesn't have, but no problems with his sense of direction.

ken

I have always had this issue. It is frustrating/ embarrassing to even attempt to figure out north / south/ east/ west without a map, so I usually avoid it. I always have to rely on landmarks to get around or get directions, street names are useless. I have no problems with dyslexia and I am great at spelling-- but even when trying to go home from an event after an hour I always pick the opposite if the correct direction, as if there was a crossed wire. Has anyone made progress on a reason or treatment for this? Would adderall or other ADHD drug help?

Patricia Syner

Wow! I almost feel at home here! But not quite. Most everyone talks of difficulty driving. I can't drive. I have a MA+45.. I love reading and writing. I freelance write. I teach English. When I go to a restaurant however, the first thing I do is visually mark my chair or else I can go to the bar and not figure out where my seat is. I was always told that I just didn't pay attention. I have trouble with remembering sequenced numbers and had to make up a rhyme to help me remember social security number. Four of my brothers also do not drive for the same reason. One of my granddaughters started driving at 16. The 20-year-old cannot, however, and I am almost certain I have passed this down to her but have not told her. It broke my heart when she said to me, "Grandma, I have been to that house 20 times. How come I stil can't remember which one it is? What is wrong with me?" Like me, she loves to read and write. We both love to draw and are very visual. She attends the same college I went to, a small campus that is easily navigatable. I'm 58 and know I will never be able to drive, Places 30 miles from home escape me, even 10 miles. I have a wonderful husbad of 40 years who is so understanding. He's retired now and I teach 5th grade so he takes me to work and picks me up. I envy his ability to drive along the unfamiliar coasts of Scotland or to just drive to Texas and back as if it were nothing. I passed the written driving test many times but the directions of the steering wheel eludes me. I know I was almost 16 before I could understand clock hands but telling time is easy now. I usually don't say anything to my fifth graders about this but I was embarrassed when one of my students asked me which car in the school lot was mine. It is a relief to know I am not the only one, however. I once went to the restroom and when I came out I turned the wrong way and accidentally went out the fire door and set off the alarm. Even though my four brothers don't drive, my mother refuses to admit we have a problem. We all have good jobs despite the driving. My oldest brother has a doctorate and teaches at a prestigious university. He lived off campus and when the bus broke down one day he got severely sunburned walking the rest of the way to work. He now lives on campus. He is also a well-publisher author who writes educational journals in fluent German. We are all waiting for those cars that drive themselves.😄

Emily

My heart goes out to everyone with this issue, it is very hard on the ego: I was a delivery girl at one point in college for a fast food place, and the owner told the other employees (behind my back) to "be patient" because I am "a little slow." I am an intelligent person, and this was fast food! Needless to say, that job was not a good fit. I have always considered navigation the ultimate expression of independence, and it bothers me to no end that I can't achieve this.

To anyone that is holding out on getting a GPS or doesn't have a smart phone: GET ONE. It is a must, and you are not being lazy.

Like many others who have added to this thread, I had coined the term "directional dyslexia" (half as a joke, half as a quick way to explain quickly as I fumble through directions with a passenger in the car) and was surprised to find this post! I am also female, with no other learning issues and painlessly good grades in school.

Dmarie

I've been a "directional dyslexic" all my life. Just the other day I even got lost with MapQuest! Turns out, I'd had the map turned upside down and when I finally corrected my mistake (3 miles later) I was late for my appointment! Then, when I exited the parking lot to leave, I turned the wrong way, of course! And never mind the map, how about trying to read MapQuest's directions backwards when you go home? Anybody tried that one? You have to start at the bottom and move up, then turn a left into a right. Doesn't work too well does it? I don't understand how this gets me so befuddled! I've never had any trouble in school keeping numbers and letters straight, but if you tell me to go south on an up hill street, you can pretty much bet my eyeballs will begin to glaze over in confusion. My own street runs north down a hill to the river and runs south up the hill to the main road; therefore I constantly confuse north with south because to me, "up" is supposed to be north and south is supposed to be "down". I once got lost in an office where I had a job interview late one evening. The interview went great until I went to leave and couldn't find the door! My "would-have-been" boss found me wandering the halls not long after that, and he didn't look pleased at all. I've often wondered if he really believed me when I told him I couldn't find the door. I have noticed something that is worth making note of, and that is the high level of intellect and articulation in the comments on this blog. Could this be related to our directional dyslexia and part of the condition? Given that regular dyslexia might have the opposite effect, perhaps not having an inner compass makes us more focused on our writing and communication abilities? Oh, I just got a chill! This is an area where neurologists should do some research!

Jeff

It's so relieving to hear from you all, and to know that I am not the only one with this problem. I think I was about 18 when I first noticed the problem (but that might just be because this was about the time I started driving on the highway). There was a highway that I used to get to my university, but one day when someone was driving me, I felt the highway directions were reversed. Were were headed south, but I could have sword we were headed north. When I looked the signs that states which mile we were at, it confirmed to me that we were indeed headed in the right direction, but in my mind it REALLY felt like we were headed the other way. This has happened to me multiple times. It's such a scary and isolating idea for me that I many times tend to think of it as a spiritual experience. If anyone would like to talk about this, please contact me at jrp8850@gmail.com.

C. Prayor

I am the mother of an 18 year old girl that is testing to get a drivers license today. I live in a city that is flat, small (20,000 population) and the streets are in alphabetical order east to west and numerical order north and south. I grew up in this town and my daughter has lived here since she was a year old and in the same house since she was 5. I have driven the same route to the local schools throughout her jr high years and throughout her younger brothers jr high years. We have been practicing and practicing. This morning while she was driving her younger sister to the same jr high school we arrive at a common intersection. She asks which way to turn. She genuinely does not know which way to turn. I quickly became infuriated. We have traveled this route over a thousand times. This is a child that had a 98 in her senior calculus class and a 100 in her freshman college trig class. Yet we go to a very frequented park 10 blocks from our home and she can't get home. In my frustration this am I realized there just HAD TO BE something not right. I am still in my parked car writing this because i just had to use google to try to learn if there were other people like this. I didn't even know what to google because I have never heard of this. I feel awful now because I am 100% sure she has this disorder and I have yelled and yelled for her to pay attention and mistook her symptoms for a spoiled teenager that didn't care to learn how to drive. Thank you for this post because it now gives me direction (ha!) on how to start dealing with this.

marie

My mother has had that problem for years and we had no idea what it was. She is 74 now. It comes and goes for her. Sometimes 6 months or more with no symptoms. Other times she has episodes every other month. Episodes last about 15 min. She seems to get lost in her neighborhood. She does not drive. She walks to do her errands because everything is walking distance from her home. She has lived in the area for over 20 years. It happens without warning. She gets disoriented and does not know which way is the correct way to get back to the house. She sees everything in the opposite side. The most alarming thing is that during the episode she does not remember where she walked and for how long or if she has crossed a street. I guess she panics and she can't see or read signs. She waits like 10 or 15 min and then her memory comes back. She has had tests done and they found nothing. But why does this happen? is it hereditary? Is there a treatment? I have prohibit her to walk alone anywhere. But of course she does not listen. I bought her an identification medical tag with my number on it. She does carry her cell phone. But during the last episode, she did not use it to call me. I am very worried about this .

Joy

I have this. To a greater degree, my mother has this. My father can point to all compass points in a breath. My sister has to give me directions to her house. Again. Where she's lived nearly 8 years. She seems to have taken after dad, mostly. I have to have a coworker in the car with me if we go to lunch so I can find the place, no matter how many times I've been there. I just can't get there from here. But I have my dad's adventurous spirit. I'll find it. It may take me three hours, but I won't let myself get upset. I won't park on the side of the road to cry into the steering wheel like my mom. I'll get there, sooner or later. Probably later

Johanna

I am so relieved that I have finally found out what is wrong with me and that I am not the only one. I am a 24 year old female graduate student and I have no problems like dyslexia, dyscalculia, Asperger's or ADD. According to some teachers I had my spatial visualization ability even is above average, yet I get lost so easily.
My main problem are turns, I just can't remember in which direction I have to turn. I also have problems with left and right. I know which is which, but in 50% percent of the cases I intuitively say right when I mean left and the other way round, I can improve if I concentrate on it more. In the other 50% percent I get it intuitively right though, so seemingly it's no general problem. I always felt so stupid because something that is obviously so easy for most people is so hard for me.
Other people accused me of being inattentive (and I have to admit that I daydream/think a lot if I have nothing to concentrate on), but even if I try very hard to memorize a route, I often fail. The only thing that helps is really memorizing all landmarks and all street names in the order I come along them. I own no mobile phone, so if I have to get to a place I haven't been so far, I study the route on Google Maps and print the map out to use on my way (reading maps is no problem for me).
Something that adds to my problem is my short-sightedness, so if I forget my glasses (and that happens a lot, because I am only slightly short-sighted, but enough to not be able to read road signs that I am not standing in front of), I am nearly hopelessly lost.
Does anyone know if there is a forum for people like us? I know that there exists a Facebook group, but I would prefer a safer place, I don't trust Facebook's privacy settings.

stb

This is like a breath of fresh air knowing I'm not the only one who has this type of condition! ever since I was younger I'd get lost even navigating myself out of the doctor's office. I had no idea why I couldn't for the life of me remember directions. It took me a good 4 months to figure out how to navigate around the town I'd just moved into! JEEZE

Linda Cooper

Today l discovered someone else also has no sense of direction. I tell people that l get lost in a paperbag and they just laugh. To read all these comments are almost a relief. I have said l would go on any course if l thought it would help me. I don't care how much it costs. We said we would love a support group.

Maria

I am so relieved to read this! I have never been able to find my way, and I have felt so stupid and ashamed. My friend moved to a house in a naborhood where all the houses and streets looked like each other. She has lived there several years, and I get lost every single time I visit her.

On a vacation I cannot go outside alone, or I will never be able to find my way back. Two turns, and I have no idea in which direction I came from. This week my boyfriend and I visited Louvre Museum in Paris, and even though I tried so hard to read the map to find Mona Lisa, I couldn't... He could, fortunately :-)

I am so glad to see that I am not alone! I think of all the times people laughed at me, and I laughed along with them to save face but I felt so embarrased.

Diana B.

I am 64 and have lived with this agonizing challenge forever, and it only becomes worse. I too have had people laugh at me or act as if I just do not pay enough attention or am lazy or stupid due to my getting lost with such frequency...Once I (finally) learn a way to get to a place, even if there's a shortcut or a better route, I do not wish to hear about it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it...It was fascinating to read about other symptoms which are perhaps associated with geographic dyslexia. For example, I have no sense of rhythm whatsoever. I would never think to use free weights at the gym--the equipment has to be bolted down--nor would I join any sort of exercise class. I can't dance and the only part of my beautiful wedding reception that was awful for me was having to dance with my new husband and my dad. Of course I wound up attempting to lead...A few months ago, one of my dearest friends visited me from out of state. I picked her up at the terminal as I live only two interstate exits away from the airport. I made it there all right, by the grace of God, but took a wrong turn on the way home. It took us over an hour to get back--my husband had to guide us via my friend's cell phone--whereas it should have taken 15 minutes or so. Just to add the final masterstroke to this sorry story, I've spent quite a bit of time going to and from the airport in the past as, until a few months ago, I was a flight attendant for over 20 years. Needless to say, either my husband would drive me to the airport or I would take a cab when I had a trip.



Ro

I'm 17, but I've had this condition since I was younger. Just finding a store up the street used to be impossible for me. It's like you don't know where to go until you actually see your surrounding so giving directions is hard. It is less hard now mainly because I only go places I've been to almost everyday, but anywhere besides that it is difficult to get to. After getting lost I get anxiety or nausea.. especially when I'm with someone. I'm going to try to go out by myself more and explore my neighborhood and others and maybe that'll make it easier for me. Please tell me any tips you guys have on fixing this.

Sandra Barth

I walked into a closet after delivering a note to a teacher . I could not simply turn around and find the door. My father has a genius level IQ as does my brother. They have the same problem. I took a test to be a rural route mail carrier and was the second highest score. I lost the job one week because I was lost and delivering mail at 7 PM. It is funny and yet it is not so funny.

Karen

All my life I have been "directionally challenged" as I tell people. I have been picking up my daughter at college on Fridays for the past 7 weeks and using the restroom there. There are 2 doors in the restroom (1 is a closet)and after 5 weeks of trying to leave the restroom by the wrong door and finding it locked, I finally figured out that the exit door had a different handle. If I remember to stop and look at the handle, I can get it right now! Note that I have not figured out which way to turn, but have adapted by learning which handle is the correct door!
My husband gave me a GPS for Christmas a few years ago. I cried as it was the best present I ever got. Yes I still get lost often with it but not as bad as without it! Before whenever I got lost I would just tell the kids we were “going on an adventure”. I have driven hours on the interstate the wrong way before I got the GPS.
Remember that game where you had to pull a card and draw what was on the card? I dreaded when I got the name of a state. I could draw a vague outline of the US but could not mark on a map where a state was. It took me till in my 30's to really get a good grasp of east and west. Sometimes people think I am stupid. They say, "But you've been here 3 times before!" like that makes a difference at all. I have a higher than average IQ and am very creative and enthusiastic. Yet I have always felt like I am missing a file in my brain on directions. I am afraid to trust my instinct on which way to turn. It got so bad for a while that I would just turn the opposite way from the one that I thought was correct.

Cindy

Helen posted "it looks like you are going one direction but it feels like you are going another" which is something that has happened to me all my life! Or things I know to be on one side of the road seem totally reversed. It's very disconcerting when it happens - especially when I'm driving. I am trying to understand what causes this and what it's called too.

I've called myself "spatially dyslexic" because of this phenomenon. I also have zero sense of direction. I can't tell left from right without looking at my hand to see which one has my wedding ring on. As a child I had a calloused middle finger on my left hand from writing, so I would rub my thumb on either hand against my middle finger to discretely figure out which was left and right.

I know this is an old post, but does anyone have more information about the "flipping" described? It's almost like I visually perceive the world completely reversed - even in familiar settings.

Richard Umbarger Jr

Thank you all for posting. I'm sad to say it dosen't bring me any relief to know im not the only one. but it does make me feel less alone. I have this condition and a very severe anxiety disorder or thats what my symptoms feel like. I've been turned down by social security & have been living in my parents house for 12-14 years with no income at all.

Richard Umbarger Jr

For the person that said something about having trouble learning to read a clock. I had that problem. They tried to get me to count the minutes by 1 or five or whatever and i just did not understand what they wanted me to do. I learned to read a clock all by my self as a teenager. I just could not learn the way they were teaching.

Richard Umbarger Jr

No men not unwilling to fess up. I have had this condition all of my life. im 40 yrs old male.

Beth

This describes me... I also have difficulty with the order of months, especially get confused August - December and writing them as numbers. I had huge difficulties with left and right and learning how to tell the time as well, but I was very good at English and Maths!

With directions, I would describe the route I take from A to B as one straight line, whereas other people can perceive the turns left and right. This means it is impossible to follow the line back or repeat the journey from memory. And they all think I'm just a scatterbrain(which I am but that's not the point)!

Pat Halderman

After 70 years of thinking I was stupid because I can get lost so easily, I find it isn't my fault! I get turned around leaving a building, can't find the right road after leaving a parking garage, get lost in the garage, lost in the doctor's office and on and on. I easily go the wrong way on roads, so now carry a compass in my van and map directions written in large print. I have kept it a secret from most everyone. I learned just a few years ago I have Prosopagnosia or face blindness and saw research that 25% of people with face blindness also have directional dyslexia or navigational difficulties. I have concealed the fact that everyone looks about the same to me and learned to look for clues to who they were.
The research I read said the problem seems to be in the hippocampus part of our brains, a developmental deficit in otherwise normal and intelligent people.
I am also mildly dyslexia. It seems all these interesting problems of not recognizing faces, not knowing where in the heck I am and reversing numbers and letters are all related to something beyond my control and none of it is my fault. I feel so happy! I have learned to cope and figure out who someone is and eventually I will get where I am going! And I am not stupid. :)
I am so happy to read everyone's stories. I am not alone.

Teresa

My friends and I would jokingly refer to my being "Directionally-Challenged." I never even thought it could/would be a dyslexia issue until my husband suggested it! So glad I found you and know I am not alone :)

Shelia

OH MY GOSH!! I HAVE FOUND MY FAMILY!!
And all this time, I thought it was just me!
:)!

Suze

I have always been a very high achiever. I am not at all dyslexic in the ordinary sense; quite the contrary- I never make spelling mistakes and have a highly developed sense of language. My maths ability is fine. I am extremely logical. I was (I am in my sixties) OK in sports and have very good hand/eye coordination. I know my left from my right. I do not have auditory, oral or tactile dysfunction.

However:

• I fall over a lot for no apparent reason.
• I bump into people in the street.
• I have no sense of direction at all- not just a bad one- none. I cannot reverse more than a few feet in the car. I cannot orientate myself. I am completely unable to relate what I see on a map to what I see on the ground. I always build in “getting lost time” to any journey. I am all right near the river in London because I can work out (painfully slowly) where the points of the compass are. I do not know which way to turn at intersections and, “follow the sun”, “go north from here” or “drive along the top” are directions that just have me hooting with laughter.
• Like many of your commentators I suffer badly from motion sickness and have learned the hard way not to travel on boats at all.

Mgrand

Amazed. Stunned. I know what it is that I am, and in a sense, have finally found my way.

To a tee, the comments referring to the nervous, confused feeling when you pull into an intersection you may have pulled into dozens of times before and still have no idea which way to go. The feeling of being totally lost amongst friends who know exactly where they are.

I couldn't figure it out for years now. It is actually quite stressful. I don't like relying on GPS, so I tried making a point to not and instead rely on my own intuition- which proved, as you may imagine, blissfully ineffective.

No one seems to get it. Not in the sense that you and I do- but perhaps that is the way with many afflictions.

Thank you for this. It has been causing me much anxiety and (dare I say) depression, believing I might just be a raisin surrounded by grapes, so to speak.

This has helped me, and I do intend to try and help others if we ever stumble upon each other (both lost, naturally).

Shea

I am so incredibly relieved ro have a name for my disability. I cant count how many times ive been ridiculed, or been commanded to 'pay attention' by friends and family, as if it were that easy. I also cant count howw many times ive been reduced to tears, scared and ashamed of being lost.

I wish scholars would band together and make a well publicized study of this so people would just understand. I dont even want to take my problem to a psychologist for fear they wont believe me. I wonder if this is how other people with unknown disabilities felt until they got discovered.

Jen

I feel like we should all band together and have a parade. A parade with non-geographically challenged people telling us which way to go and then walking us back to our cars.

staffman

I have been directionally challenged my entire life. At age 37, my family cringes when I have to give them directions - or heaven forbid they tell me to 'turn left now!!!' at the next intersection. My family has learned to deal with it, usually pointing in the direction I need to go. I took this test online just a few minutes ago, thinking this shouldn't be that hard. I could tell that my brain was just not cutting it; and there is no such thing as instinctive when it comes to right/left for me. I guess my problem isn't as bad as others, mainly because I have a high degree ability to match and put together complex patterns mentally. If it weren't for that I would be one very, very lost individual.

Beth

My wonderful, amazingly bright 17 year old has this condition that we've always referred to as "Directional Deficit Disorder", but maybe Directional Dyslexia is more apt! She is a senior in a huge high school, and after 3 full years there, still can only get herself around using ONE staircase. That means walking from one end of the building (past several staircases) all the way to the other end of the building to use "her" staircase, just to go back to the other end of the building on the second floor. This is a kid who takes AP and Honors classes, and carries a 97 GPA. She does have a touch of (un-medicated) ADD, so I wonder if that could have something to do with it. She's currently learning to drive, and about to take her test. I'm scared to think of her in a car by herself - or just as bad, lost on a college campus in a year. Has anyone heard of any therapies that help with this condition?

novice88

I have had this for all my life too (25 now). But because I was always aware of my inadequate navigation skills, if you will, I have noticed that I have sub-consciously adopted certain techniques to get by. I have very good memory, so I have a tendency to memorize landmarks (signs, shops etc.) to retrace my steps to any location. But ask me what direction anything is and I will have no answer.

I have also found that I have a hard time recognizing songs based on melody/music. On the flip side, I have found that I am above average in recognizing faces and names. If any researcher interested in this field is reading this, I would gladly volunteer information to better understand the condition/ how the brain works.


CS

I can't even park a car as I can't tell if it's going left or right. I'm so embarrassed and have stopped driving altogether. Any advise anyone?

Squeak

Im glad I am not the only one that feels like this. I used to never be able to get myself home. My mom always got mad at me as a kid and a teen for not paying attention in the car. If I didnt have a GPS to tell me where to go all the time I would be hopeless. I remember once when I was 17 I started at a school kinda far from my house and my mom was working and no one could give me a ride. So I decided to start walking home and I was walking for hours and seeing places I passed all the time and not being able to figure out how to get to my house. I never did find my way. My mom was driving around looking for me and I flagged her down at an intersection. It made me feel like such an idiot failure. I have never been able to give someone directions or let someone drive me home. Now I dont feel so bad because im so not the only one.

All the d's

I could do with a remedy or any tips anybody could offer? Recently I had to observed working as part of a placement. I drove with my passenger the observer to get to the destination. I had been there before and it was only a couple of minutes away. I was stressed and took the first turn wrong. My memory of the next 15 minutes is that I drove around 'blind' completely filled with panic, confusion & nausea. It was recorded against me. I am dyslexic and every other d word that I cant pronounce or spell too. I do use a sat nav when I'm on my own but when there are passengers I can't concentrate on the instructions. Good to read all your experiences guys. Maybe I'll be able to find my latest humiliation funny in time? I hope so as ATM it's painful. The observer is responsible for deciding if I pass placement & he made it obvious that he thinks I'm completely stupid. He was openly shocked that any person could be so ridiculous. I have 6 more weeks to go. Cure please . . . ,

Lola

I am thrilled to discover that there's thousands like me out there. I always face ridicule from my friends and colleagues. Whereas this is welcome, at times it is quite stressful and frustrating... My question is, what is the remedy?

laurie

Wow, there are a lot of us. I just figured that out. I am going to share this with my husband. He has been writing me detailed directions starting with "pull out of the driveway and turn..." forever.

Dan Beane

I am a man, 52, and have had this all my life. My mother says I used to go in closets and be unable to find my way out when I was very young. I must drive somewhere at least 5 times during daylight in a week to have any idea where it is, but still must use gps all the time. I know how to get to church and work from my home. I lost my car in parking lots all the time. Many "friends" have made fun of me for this my whole life. It's great to find a name for it. I saw "The Accidental Tourist" movie, but only remember it had immorality in it. I live in Austin, TX.

Ricky

I have to say it's amazing to read about this and to find out it's an actual disorder. I always thought it was just a personal trait of mine. Especially when getting lost whilst dropping my friends off at their houses over and over again - much to their amusement!

It would be great if there was any way to have this properly diagnosed, as there are times when this issue can give people a significant disadvantage in life - being late for a job interview for example.

Question for students: If dyslexics get extra time to complete exams, does that mean we should be given extra time in getting to exams?!

Sheila

Oh my Gosh! I have tried to hide this for years! I thought I was the only person alive who has this. I get made fun of all the time. It gives me anxiety and panic attacks!

jenny diop

Brilliant! I've been laughing like a drain since finding this forum and reading the comments. I have this very problem, inherited from my mother and I feel I'm getting worse. I go the wrong direction when coming out of shops. I can't work out which end of the high street I live on unless I really concentrate hard on the shop signs. I've worked in the same school for four years and still can't find my way around. Remembering routes is a nightmare.Its like my brain reboots overnight and wipes all my data. Interestingly I have a photographic memory and recall the location of any object in my house by building a mental picture. Not so with my external environment. Also I can't touch my index finger with my other hand when my eyes are shut. I have hypermobility syndrome and I have no awareness of my own body in space it seems. I'm sure these things are related. I do laugh alot about it but also panic in certain situations at my complete disorientation.I read Accidental Tourist and loved the characters for this reason. I'm female and an artist. 4 out of the 5 teachers in my art department suffer the same affliction.They're women too. I'd be interested if any of you have hypermobility too or are artists.

Sarah

This is a great discussion! I am 32 years old, from a small enough area, yet I cannot figure out how to get someplace I've been hundreds of times if I try and drive there myself. I get all panicky. This is not a big city, but I cannot visualize how to get somewhere. I know in my head what the building looks like but have no idea which roads to go down to get there. I will spend 10-15 extra minutes navigating streets (some of them one way streets so I have to be careful), frantically search for my destination. I can also be in the basement of my house I've lived in 7 years now and I don't know which rooms are above me. Whenever I leave the office at a clinic appointment, I stop outside the room and don't know how to get to the waiting area. I have constant dreams of being lost. In fact, I got lost during the first week of school in 7th grade, searching for my math classroom for 15 minutes before having to go to the office, and the secretary had to take me to class. I was 20 minutes late. It was a small school and only had one floor! My dreams, which are recurring, have the common topic of getting lost in school and not being able to find my locker, going on a trip and not being able to find the hotel room, or being lost on a cruise ship and unable to locate my family or our cabin. I wish I knew when someone said "go North", which direction that actually was. I do not "get" this concept and it doesn't come naturally to me. I have an amazing memory otherwise and can memorize things by sight and associate birthdays and dates with peoples' faces, and I'm an awesome speller and consider myself to have an above average reading level/intelligence, but directions = terrible. My mom is the same way but probably a little better at me at navigating.

Ruth Lightner

This is an amazing site and I am so thankful to somehow stumbled into it. I have been challenged all my 72 years with things that these wonderful people have shared. Somehow I have learned to accept that this is a part of who I am and find ways to cope and live with it. At times it has been quite frustrating when I would get asked what"s wrong with me and they would just roll their eyes as I did not have a clue why this was happening - getting lost in a restaurant coming back from the ladies room, lost in an office building, visiting in a hospital, getting off an elevator, getting back to the highway from dropping someone at their home, leaving a hotel room to try to find the elevator or way out, line dancing was a disaster trying to learn, could never follow which way hands and feet were going in exercise class, having to write down how to get back out of a place as I could not process in my mind to reverse directions and a whole bunch of other things that challenged me. Best of all, I was a truck driver both local and over the road for over 40 years and could not even figure out which way to turn coming out of the truck stop. I had a stack of index cards with all kinds of information written on them, neatly filed and organized to I could function in my career. People who knew me and what I went through to cope and survive in life just shook their heads. The biggest challenge was the fact that no one knew how I could be so smart, intelligent and tops in my field when I couldn't find my way out of a paper bag. I decided a long time ago that I was very grateful that I had all my marbles, had my health, blessed with many wonderful friends and family, lived in the good ole USA, loved my chosen profession, as an owner-operator, and at times a company driver and later in management positions in the transportation industry which I totally loved, and was able to teach and mentor the younger ones coming up, What more could I ask of anyone. I figured out some will like me, some won't for whatever reason, so what, NEXT. My Creator gave me so much more that the few challenges I deal with and I live every day with an attitude of gratitude for the fantastic ride I have enjoyed in my life. Thank you all so much for sharing as I now understand that there are quite a few of us out there with the which way do I turn, how to I get back to my seat, and what other kind of exercise or fun things can I do that won't totally confuse me. You are an amazing group of people and I am fortunate to have found all of you. God bless you all and sending you lotsa Angel hugs. Ruth

Lora Whitney

Thanks for this article which I can print out and show to friends who don't understand where I'm coming from. I used to think I had directional dyslexia because my grandmother dropped me on my head when I was a baby. I am glad this isn't the cause of my disability. No one else in my immediate family suffers from this, although my dad had some problems as a child from being a lefty forced to write with his right hand. I even hesitate when forced to make quick right or left changes of direction. I have to think which hand I write with first. Sometimes I stop for green lights and go through red lights, although I am not color-blind. If I manage to get to a new destination O.K. I often have trouble reversing polarity to get home again. Turning the map upside down totally perplexes me. I never know what direction I am facing, but I learned the directions from my home. If there are alternate routes to destinations I visit frequently for shopping, etc. I always take the same route which I navigate my visual markers. I am distressed when forced to take a road detour and I really resent those quasi-official guys in the orange jackets who stand at intersections and tell me I have to abandon my chosen route, then won't give me good directions for getting back on track. I never drive on strange back roads just to see where they lead because I am afraid I will go miles and miles out of my getting lost trying to get home. Sigh. For some reason, I can interpret walking tour maps much easier than driving maps, maybe because then include pictures of landmarks. Another frightening aspect of my disability is that I can drive a route repeatedly over the years, but if some time has elapsed since I last went that way, my mental map is a complete blank slate. If there is a continuum of how severe one's disability is, I think I have a bad case of directional disability. Heaven held the person who asks me for directions on the street! Thanks for the chance to share...

N.G.

Really amazing to read all of these comments. I am 44 years old and have known I was different from everyone I know when it comes to finding my way. Simple things like leaving a table to go to the ladies room in a large restaurant and then finding my way back to the table can be challenging for me. I use my GPS everyday and worry that it will malfunction when I am far from home. I too did very well in school and am high functioning in all other ares of my life. My husband, friends and colleagues often make fun of me for taking the "long way", little do they know I'm just happy to get there at all! Get this - I work in residential real estate! I often get "turned around" when I am in large houses and really need to do my homework if I am showing houses in an unfamiliar area. It really helps to know I am not alone. I know there are successful treatments for dyslexia. I wonder if there is anything people like us can do to improve our sense of direction?

Jess

I've known for a few years now that I'm directionally dyslexic.
People are always amused by my lack of ability to find my way around. It's such a stressful thing to deal with; especially when you need to be somewhere by a certain time. My dreams are forever consumed with feeling lost and not being able to find my way...
I try to explain it to people as: I have a clear vision of where I am and where I want to be,... It's just all the steps in the middle of how to get there are missing...

Kaye McMullin

I have had this most my life but did not know what it was until I read the Accidental Tourist and then looked up your website. I am 68 and been married over 50 years and thank goodness my husband is willing to help me with this and not be upset with me. Right now I may have to report for jury duty tomorrow and I am just petrified as I cannot figure out how to get to the courthouse. I cannot read a map. My husband has offered to drive me there even though he has to work tomorrow if I am called in. I am shaking I am so scared and don't know what to do. I am not stupid. I am retired but have worked as a secretary and office manager etc. with 45 years experience and done fine except for getting lost. My husband has to drive me to my new job several times before I can do it alone. If I have to make two or more turns I am lost. I now have a GPS and that so helps me but I will not get on bypasses and it wants me to so that is bad in town and will not help me tomorrow. I know left from right but not North from South etc. and cannot learn them. It won't happen. Kaye

Anne

I know everyone has been saying this but I feel the same comfort just to know that I am not the only one out there who cannot find their way around. I have been teased by my family and friends so much that it has really started to upset me. You can only laugh at yourself so much before you start to wonder if you really are as stupid as everyone thinks. Today I had to choke back tears when my sister laughed at me and made fun of me in front of my friends for not being able to find my way back from buying a water bottle twenty feet away. I have to drive a route between five to ten times before I can memorize it. Even then, if there is a road closed or something I am completely lost. When I was little I would always get lost in restaurants finding my way BACK from the bathroom. Everyone figured that I would just grow out of it... but this happened more and more. I would wander around until a waiter would take pity on me and escort me to my table. If I have to alter my driving route in the slightest way I will get completely lost in areas that are very close to me. The night before my sixteenth birthday I was severely nervous because I knew that I would be driving soon and all of my friends would realize how directionally challenged I was. I didn't drive for a long time mostly because I was anxious about getting lost. It is so great to hear about other people undergoing the same stressors (not that I am happy that people are stressed out a all) because I feel less like a total freak. I wonder if there is any "cure" or way to make this go away. I just don't want to live my entire life like this...I feel like I am hard to put up and am constantly apologizing for myself. My mother thinks that it is sort of endearing, but I fear that with age it will become more and more irritating to people around me.

Ros Nunez

I hate maps and I've always wondered why I couldn't understand directions when people explain them to me. When they start gesturing with their hands on which way I should go, I get even more confused. Then when I heard that my dad is the same as me, I sorta realized that it was probably some kind of condition which he could have passed on to me. My sister think it's funny, and sometimes laugh with her (my own accidental tourist experience are kind of funny) but I do get frustrated. Like when I need to get someplace and I can't find it, even if I've been there several times.

I remember, when I was in the first grade, I told myself that if the hand I write with is my right so the other must be my left. Now I'm already 24 and I'm still doing it. I run my thumb over the callous on my finger (from writing) just to make sure it was my right hand.

It's really comforting to know that it isn't just me; that other people are with me on this. My family has always been very supportive, even before knowing that it's an actual disability. They have always been very careful when giving me directions. Sometimes they give them to me in installments. Like, to get to point C, I have to get to point A first and then they'll text me how to get to point B and so on.

T`

Ha. I used to get lost on the floor I worked on for a big corporation. All those rows of cubicles. I tried to be slick @ first, but people started to catch on. Like....your cube is that way.I could not tell you which way is North. I was 9 or so b4 I really got L and R down. I have to write everything down and really focus. Cause one wrong turn and I lose it in my head. I started to look this up to see if something in me was possibly broken cause I was looking @ a map of a place I wanted to go to literally 2 miles form home and was confused as to why the freeway was where it was on the map. So sad. lol

Sarah Sparks

Oh my word! So good to know that this is real! I have been talking about it lately because I still can't get around chicago by myself because the L is a mystery to me! I have absolutely no sense of direction (in fact, it's usually exactly wrong if I guess) and I have always struggled with left and right (driving test=nightmare).

I don't know if other people have this either but I also blank on people's names that I've known for years for one to two minutes sometimes. The worst was my senior year of high school when a boy I'd known since kindergarten greeted me and I couldn't think of his name. I recognize them, but I cannot think of their name.

I also have a really poor memory. I write my own music and then have to play them over and over again in order to memorize my own written words. I memorize the music fine though (I don't know why that is).

Sue Williams

I am 75. Years ago I read the Armchair Traveler and was overjoyed to put a name to my odd directional problem that family never understood and made fun of. The hardest part of my job was traveling because I got lost so often and then sometimes panicked. I was an accomplished student but in school when I came to drafting and projected forms at different angles, etc. I had to quit the class. My nightmares have always involved being lost in school and late for class or unable to find my locker. One odd thing in my life makes me wonder if it's related to geographic dyslexia: I always have to pause a few seconds and decide which hand or foot to use in sports like soccer and baseball and I cannot follow someone facing me giving dance or sports directions. I am a professional artist and can use either hand to draw, paint or weld equally well but I prefer my left hand for the most part. Obviously there is some kind of brain activity that works differently for all of us with this directional affliction.

lori buchanan

this is a documented and (now) well studied disorder. see http://www.gettinglost.ca/ for all kinds of data, researchers, videos etc. a young researcher from he psycology dept at the university of calgary is leading the charge on the investigation of this. he has a test in which one of the questions is something like : how many times did you get lost in your house this week? I am bad but I ain't THAT bad. It seems that some people are though and a look around this website is fascinating.

Mandy

Thank you. I have spent the last 46 years being made fun of. I have absolutely no sense of direction what-so-ever. I feel sick for days if my Company send me to an unfamilar destination as I know I will get lost. My husband prints out maps photos etc. for me to follow - which sadly rarely help. I often lose my car in multi-storey car parks, and lose myself in trying to find my way out of a department store. All I hear is blah blah blah if I have to receive verbal instructions. I have had 16 house moves (not sure if this is relevant). I also had great trouble in learning to tell the time as a child (even now I still struggle with the 24 hour clock!) I don't consider myself a stupid person as I hold a managerial position within a large company, however I have often found myself being used as an example by so-called work colleagues, friends and family as the butt of many "getting lost" jokes. I have even joked about it myself, all the time though wondering why I have this inability to follow geographical directions. To my delight, today I discovered your page with the help of my eldest Son who also suffers from the same condition. I am so relieved.

Martain Chandler

During the day: never get lost. Landmarks are easily remembered. The sun gives me clues as to the direction I'm going.

At night: agonizingly disoriented when I drive some place new. Even the moon, which I rationally know should give me clues to which direction I'm going, seems rather ambiguous.

Kaye McMullin

I have had a problem with directions and getting lost all my life and I am 67 years old now. It was not a large problem for me until at age 34 we moved from our hometown to another state and that is when I realized I could not find my way around and could not learn it like people would tell me to do. I can't tell you how many times I have been lost and had to call my husband to come get me. Anytime I needed to get anywhere my husband would draw me a map or take me there the day before to show me what to do. I had no idea this had a name until I read The Accidental Tourist and saw this in there so I then went on line to see if it was a real thing and found out it is and also was relieved to see the author in the book say it is not treatable which I already knew. I can learn to cope with it and I can do things to get through with this and with my husband's help and now having a GPS (boy, is that ever a help) I can make it. I always knew I was not stupid as I have held office jobs for over forty years and always done a good on any job but if I make more than one or two turns I can't for the life of me figure out then how to get where I need to be. I don't tell many people as they give you a look like you are stupid as if they don't have this they do not understand it at all. I did not grow up on a farm and being told where the sun is and such and now it just means nothing to me.

Maria

(First of all, sorry for my bad english)
Now I feel relieved... I'm 23, and all my life I've made excuses to hide I have no idea which way turn to go home. I have no problems with maps, maths, or tell wich way is left or right. But I can go 30 times to the same place with friends, and not be able to go alone. So I thought it was a big lack of attention. If I walk a new street, I can walk 2 streets away and be unable to tell how to return to the shop/car/ whatever. In my first day in highschool, at 13, I got lost even when I had been there before with my parents, and my mother gave me directions. I saw a classmate facing the opposite direction and I didn't follow him because I was embarrased to confess I didn't know where I was going. I almost cried and I felt so relieved when I asked a girl and she was going there too, and walked me there...

It's so embarrasing, people ask me why I don't get my driving license, and I just tell them I don't need it, because if I admit I think I would get lost, they just say I'll be used to it easily, but I know it's not true. I'm terrified thinking about driving with a friend and get lost a few streets from a common place.
There was once, when a friend insisted a lot about driving me home (to my summer residence), and I refused it to the point he thought I was scared of going alone with him or something, when the truth is I was afraid he could drive along streets I don't know, and be unable to tell him which way to go (so I took the bus).

Now I don't feel alone anymore.

Optimus

I have recently met a friend who has this condition, something I haven't seen before and I was puzzled how she would be even lost when getting outside of her hotel room.

While I am fairly good at finding my way, even in a new city I have not visited before, there is something else that puzzles me and I am truly bad at. I have a very hard time actually giving directions. Ask me how to get in my house and I can't answer. Stop me in the street to ask me how to reach a certain place and I will get very anxious and not being able to give an answer unless it's something very obvious. I can't even understand how some people when asked about direction, reply so fast with such detail. It's like the have a GPS in their brain. While I could also find my way, I have to walk it instead of imagining it. I can't imagine the way before hand, I have to see the landmarks to decide where to go next.

I am wondering how many people have this problem with giving directions.

Robin

It is comforting to find a website with others who share my problem. I have read articles over the past few years about directional dyslexia. It is miserable, affects all aspects of our lives. I cannot go too many places by myself, but will drive anywhere if someone is in the car & can direct me. It affected my choice of career, jobs and just about everything I do. Thank G-d my daughters do not suffer from this & my husband has an excellent sense of direction. My parents also had a good sense of direction. I am the only one in my immediate family with this issue, but do have one first cousin who says she has problems with directions also. Living in NJ which has lots of confusing highways does not help - I try to stay on side streets, even if it takes longer, since it is easier to turn around & try again. Our parkway and turnpike terrify me, since there are few turnarounds. I will drive highways that may seem more dangerous (like rte 22 in NJ) since there are many places to turn around & correct my route. Hoping one day for cars with built in systems that can be programmed to drive themselves - I probably won't live long enough to see them (I'm 52) - but a blessing for future people with this issue!

John (Portugal)

I've noticed that the overwhelming majority of the posts here are from women which makes me think that this condition is not very common in men. I dont think it has to do with men being afraid to admit since you can post anonymously..
I'm a 25 year old man and i dont want to sound too dramatic but i feel this 'condition' has ruined relationships and careers i might've had. I relate to a lot of what has been said here. I only started noticing i had a problem after i got my driver's license and at first i thought i was just not paying enough atention but i've come to the conclusion that it was something i couldnt control.
I feel like the humiliation in my case is heightened by the fact that i'm a man. Not knowing which way to go, or worst, not knowing how to get to a place i was just 5 minutes ago when u're driving with friends in your car is incredibly emasculating. When i go to dinner parties i get incredibly anxious because there's a good chance someone will need a ride.. The worst question someone can ask me after inviting me to something is "Are you driving there?" because i know that means i'm going to be asked if i can give person X a ride and i dont have a reason to say no, so a lot of the times i just find an excuse and just dont go. It annoys me how easy and intuitive it is for everyone else.
I'm sorry for any misspellings. English is not my native language. Any news on the message board for the... directional impaired?

Kathy

How wonderful to read these posts! I'm laughing because some of the examples of directional dyslexia are so ridiculous sounding -- but they're true! I have experienced most of these examples myself! How about when you use a public restroom in a mall? You have to walk down these long corridors, make a few turns....of course it's a nightmare trying to find your way back out! I always turn the wrong way leaving the bathroom. And how about parking lots? Horrible. They're so big and generic, impossible to find your car unless you are very diligent with remembering a lamppost or something. I too, cannot reverse directions to find my way home, and must write each reversed direction on paper. Even at that, I can only hold one or two directions in my head at one point, and must constantly refer back to the page while driving. I've passed it along to one daughter, unfortunately, and she seems to have it even worse than I. She's 15 yrs old, and says she will never learn to drive because she will never know how to get anywhere.
Thanks for making me smile (with relief that I'm not alone).

okolo

I thought I made up this phrase (directional dyslexia) for myself. You tell me left or right, and my brain just goes hey-wire, and because I cant figure it out, I just choose a direction. I get yelled at soooo many times while driving. "I SAID RIGHT, WHY'D YOU GO LEFT?"
"I'm sorry, I'll just turn around" I'll usually say.

Forget trying to tell me go north/south/etc on so-and-so street.

I feel so stupid, but I really don't think I can help it. I tell people that it has to do with me being left-handed so my brain works differently. Is anyone else wo experience this left-handed?

All I have to say is - THANK GOD FOR GPS! And I'm glad I'm not the only one with this problem.

Alba

This is wonderful!!!! I realized that I am wrong 90 to 95% of the time when I have to decide to go right or left, even in my work building I say I have to go "up" when it is down and viceversa. When I realized that it was a three dimensional problem I started joking that I have "directional dislexia" which lead to searching the net, which lead to this wonderful blog!!!

I hate it when people think I am an idiot when I am behind the wheel.....My father used to have the same problem. I believe I am worse than him.

So.... cool for this!!!

Brenda Wederquist

I just found this site by accident. I had coined the phrase, "Directional Dyslexia" for my condition, thinking that I was the only person in the world with this problem. It makes me feel a little better knowing I am not the only one out there that can't find my way back to the table at the restaurant without leaving a bread crumb trail. I have it really, really bad. It is so difficult to explain to people why I never go to the city to shop and am content to stay in my small town where I can find my way around a lot easier. If I get lost, I can just drive around awhile until I finally recognize where I'm at and nobody is the wiser. In the city, my heart is in my throat and I am terrified. I am fine if I have a navigator telling me every turn to take but even a GPS is not enough help for me when driving in a city of more than 15,000. I have had this problem my entire life and can even remember my first episode. I was walked to school on my first day of kindergarten by my parents and the school was only 3 blocks from home. In the "old days", one walked to school and home, parents didn't pick you up and bring you home. When it was time to go home, I walked to the corner of the school and just stood there, crying. I had no idea how to get back home, which was just three blocks away. Luckily, a neighbor saw me and knew who I was and took my hand and led me home. My parents had to walk me to and from school for over a week until I learned to walk the three blocks by myself. I also have a problem with "up" and "down" when trying swim under water or when jumping on a trampoline. Obviously, my athletic skills are nil.

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