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Directionally Challenged


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Joined: Mar 13, 2005
Posts: 18
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Posted Mar 16, 2005 at 10:37:27 AM
Subject: Directionally Challenged

Ok...that is what my friends and family call me, and it is pretty fitting.

Just a little bit about myself. I am a 21 year old college student who is in her 3rd year of college, going into special education (as you can see from my sig. lol). I have Dyslexia, auditory/visual and perceptual (not sure if that is the correct name for the lastone) disabilities, but I have the most trouble with auditory now (auditory processing disorder).

Also, when I was a lot younger (3-years old) I fell and hit my head. I was unconcious for 1/2 and hour, and when I woke up I lost most of my short-term memory (I remember people's names, but I lost all the information about numbers, address, and other educational things that a 3-year old would know). My mother, and some other professionals that I have talked to believe that I could have gotten some brain damage from that accident. My mother said I was never the same after that...she said I used to pick things up so easily, and after that I struggled with EVERYTHING. We don't know though...can't say for sure without getting professional tests which are super expensive (and might not show something anyway if there is damage).

When I was younger I had a lot of difficulties...when I was in 7th grade I was educationally at a 2nd and 3rd grade level and wa told (or actually my parents were told) that the long term goal was to get me through my sopemore year of high school and then start working on life-skills.

My mother took me out of the public school and homeschooled me...using the Ortan Gilingham (sp??? sry) method, and there were wonderful results. I went back to the public school and graduated with fairly good grades (Cs, Bs, a few As). I've been doing wonderful in college...GPA is currently 3.7, and I've been on the Dean's list for every semester sense I was a freshmen here.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is during the years I have figured out how to make my learning disability work for me. Everything ... except for my memory and my direction sense. Ok, I can live with my memory. Other people have bad memories...and people just assume I am terrible with names. I also just find ways to work around this in school. Now, my directional sense is another matter.

I come from a very small town...and we didn't realize how bad I was until I got my driver's liceans and I didn't know where the school was. Now, I can get to the school in the small town, and many other places but I need to find the one familiar route that I know. I have a hard time going off my 'home route,' even if it means backtracking to get somewhere (if that makes sense).

I just get really frustrated, and I don't know where these directional problems are from. I've tried reading up about my auditory disability (which says problems with memory), and I have never found any mention here. I'm not sure if this is because of my learning disability, or a result of the brain damage. I never know where my car is...I've tried to pick up little tricks like always parking my car to the left of the parking lot...but then I can't remember my little trick (becuase I keep switching it). Now...I just push my alarm butten and follow the sound lol.

I get lost in Walmart...my still need directions to a restraunt that I have driven to maybe 40 times this past year that is on a fairly easy route with only a couple of turns.

Another concern I have is just my memory. One day I was talking to my friends and they were talking about some of their childhood memories...and I was thinking and just asked "what do you rememeber...do you actually remember all of this or is this from stories and pictures." They all stopped and thought and said they could all remember some things up until 5th grade. Now...I am sitting here right now and trying to think...and I truely can't remember anything about my past past my Freshmen year of college (only 3 years ago), except for things that I have seen in pictures or I have heard stories.

I am having a hard time remembering the names of the classmates that I had been with for 12 years...I can't remember where my lockers were anymore. This is something that I've just realized this year, and I didn't realize I was any different than anyone else.

What is this? Is this just part of my learning disability...or part of possible brain damage or what? Is it just going to keep getting worse? For some reason I feel like my 'past' memory is getting worse...but I can't remember what it was like before. I know this sounds pretty dramatic...I jsut wanted to see if anyone here has any answers for me or can relate to some of my experiences.

Thanks for any help!

I'm a learning disabled student becomming a special education teacher...what am I doing? LOL Tessa

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
Posts: 1784

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Posted:Mar 16, 2005 11:22:57 AM

Well, I am really badly directionally challenged myself. I was never officially diagnosed LD; nowadays they might say dysgraphic but in my time people just said I was a terrible writer. I'm actually a gifted student (both math and languages) but with a few "holes". I don't remember faces either. Or names. If a person who was in my class or even worked with me for two or three years walks up and greets me, I smile and say politely "I'm sorry, I have a terrible memory for faces, can you please remind me who you are?" They think it's funny and weird, but that's the way it goes.
I had a few illnesses and injuries in my youth, nothing as dramatic as yours; but also some of this runs in my family -- my mother has a wacky memory too. Nobody is ever going to know if we get Alzheimer's because we could never remember things like the date and politicians' names and stuff anyway. My daughter takes after us in having very late developing hand coordination and writing and some memory gaps although she is also a great student.

Anyhow, you're one of the very very very few people in the world that I've ever met or heard of who seems to have a worse directional sense than mine. Congratulations, you're one in a million!
I *always* lose my car in parking lots. When my daughter was young, I made a joke of it, and walked through the parking lot going "Here, car, car; here, Honda, Honda, Honda." That method works as well as anything else . . .
You can look in big parking lots and see if they put numbers or letters on the posts; then write the number of the nearest post on your left hand (you can't lose your left hand, and you keep a few pens in your jeans pocket or purse, always.)

For finding my way, I find I do a lot better if I visualize. Are you a visualizer? If you can picture things at all, use these techniques -- and use *all* of them, together, because if one falls through you have the other(s) as a backup.
To find the car or another location, stop after you get out, turn around and *look back*, and make a picture in your mind of where you are in the position you will be coming back out. Focus for a second or two, store the memory, and then when you come out see where you are.
Study maps of your town and of other areas where you are going to travel; trace with your finger where the main roads or the highways go. Ignore the small streets except the ones you are looking for specifically. Then when you are travelling, call up the picture of the map on your mental computer screen, and trace whether you need to go left or right or whatever. (First make sure you are not in busy traffic!! Pull off the road or take an exit if necessary!!)
As you are travelling, focus on places where you have to make a decision such as turns and exits, and make mental photos of them. Concentrate on what you see so that the next time you see it, you will remember where you went.
Start a map bag in your car. Get a Rand-McNally road atlas of all of North America and then you will never be stuck without at least a general map anywhere you go. Buy a city map or two of your area and the area where you go to school. I have a really nice city map of my city, Montreal, that has an alphabetical street guide on the back; I can look up any street in a city of four million and find out using the code like H15 what part of the city it is in, and find the roads to it -- learn to use something like this. Buy a good large-scale state map too. Get a nice carryall bag and put these maps in it, and store it in the back seat area of your car for easy access. When you take a longer trip, stop in a gas station in each new state and/or city and buy a map and add it to the bag. Then, if you go back a six months or a year later, if you get mixed up you can just pull to a safe rest stop and get straight again. Even in your own city, if you get lost or truned around or have to go to a new address, you have the city map and street guide. The map bag is a growing collection and is never discarded.
Before going on a trip to a new area, use the MapQuest site on the computer and find it visually; you can also use MapQuest to get verbal directions -- write these down on paper and keep them beside you as you drive; *pull off* and check these as needed. You want *both* visualization *and* verbal directions, belt and suspenders approach.
When people give you directions on the phone or whatever, tune out all the " now you have to go a long way past the market and the flower shop and . . ." junk, and focus on the elements: road names, landmarks *only* at turns, straight or left or right, and distances. Write the directions down and keep them beside you.
If you do make a mistake, just stay calm, go to the next exit, and come back. You have the maps and road names for backup. Stay calm.
Tell people your schedule has to be a bit flexible because of the traffic -- it is easier to blame traffic than to explain why you don't know left from right. Yes, this very thing happened to me last week; I was half an hour late meeting a tutoring student because I took the right exit and not the left off the bridge and couldn't figure out why none of the street names looked like the ones in his neighbourhood. Then I got turned back around, found him, apologized for bad traffic in the city, and taught him pre-calculus for an hour. Today, going back there when I leave this site, wish me luck; only my third time to his place so, well, still focusing in on it. Last week also I was not well, asthma and not sleeping, and managed to forget on appointment; it doesn't happen often any more but it happens. I apologized profusely and went on -- don't think one mistake is final.

Oddly enough, all of this is getitng very much *better* as I age. I have finally gotten a grip on what is happening and figured out how to deal with it; even recognize faces better (sometimes half an hour or even a day later, but recognizing them.)
The fact that you are thinking about your own memory may be a good sign; before you just didn't notice, and now you do -- that is a sign that you are becoming more aware and starting to improve it.

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Beth from FL
Joined Jun 15, 2003
Posts: 621

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Posted:Mar 16, 2005 6:00:58 PM

Some things I've read would suggest that directionality is a right brain activity and brain damage is one way that right brain weaknesses such as what you describe come about. Most of the time though there is no known cause.

Beth

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Tessa
Joined Mar 13, 2005
Posts: 18

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Posted:Mar 16, 2005 7:23:36 PM

Thank you Victoria and Beth!

Victoria, I am not quite certain about if I am a visualizer...I've been asked this before and sometimes I think I am but other times I don't think so. I think I think in pictures (does that make sense), but not so much from my own memory...so that makes me think I'm not. I can't see that idea about parking (where you just look), because I'm not the best spatially! I do have a notepad in my car, and I take down notes some times...rarely (by the L), and I should do this more. I like the idea of keeping maps in my car. So many times my father writes one up for me to go somewhere, and they are just stuffed in one door and I can never remember which one is where.

It is nice to hear that your directional problems seem to be getting better...maybe there is hope for me. I kind of think that it gets worse though...but then I also think I am doing a lot more driveing than I used to.

LOL, yeah I'm aweful with faces...sometimes I feel so stupid that I will carry on an entire conversation with someone about some past experience that I know nothing about lol. Thank you!


Beth, that is what the Dr. that did a physological evaluation on me said...that what I was describeing could be from my auditory difficulties, or brain damage.

Yeah, that is about right now...it is really easy to blaime something...and I think it would be something that I always think and wonder about. But how I am is how I am, and I will probably never know the cause.

I'm a learning disabled student becomming a special education teacher...what am I doing? LOL Tessa

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ellyodd
Joined Aug 16, 2004
Posts: 94

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Posted:Mar 16, 2005 11:07:28 PM

I love your signature :D

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PT1
Joined Mar 07, 2005
Posts: 34

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Posted:Mar 22, 2005 7:53:53 PM

<<I *always* lose my car in parking lots. When my daughter was young, I made a joke of it, and walked through the parking lot going "Here, car, car; here, Honda, Honda, Honda." That method works as well as anything else . .>> .

Hi Victoria,

As one who owns a Honda and loses her car in the parking lot constantly, I am LOL at what you said.

Frankly, I don't think anybody in my family has great visual spatial skills even though I am the only one who has LD. My mother and I used to be hopeless in trying to find where we parked the car. It was like the blind leading the blind.

One time, when I was with my brother, he asked me if I remembered where we parked his car. I jokingly told him that he should know better than to ask a question like that. But guess what, I spotted the vehicle and was so proud of myself.

PT

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