Quick Facts about Directional Dyslexia:
Extreme difficulty distinguishing right from left and following a sequence of directions or retracing a path.
While very real and very frustrating for those affected, the term directional dyslexia is problematic. Those turning right not left out of the elevator have a Dys (difficulty) but not with Lexia (words). A better name for this problem would be something like Dysorienta. Admittedly, dyslexics are notorious for mixing left and right ("no, the other right") so there is some 'comorbidity' there, meaning that problems with direction and words often go together.
Interestingly, a common symptom of dyslexia is difficulty memorizing sequences, and since knowing the directions from A to B is about memorizing a sequence of actions ("Left at the store, right at the school then left again at the park") it's possible that the problems getting lost are really just a particular example of a problem with sequences of information.
Digging a bit deeper, the problem with memorizing sequences might be caused by weak short term memory, another very common symptom of dyslexia. It simply takes many more repetitions for dyslexics to learn something, especially abstract things like multiplication tables. This may carry over to learning of routes and directions.
There aren't formal treatments for directional dyslexia, but there are some strategies that can help:
1) For left-right confusion
2) For poor sense of direction
There are many cognitive challenges associated with dyslexia including ADHD and dysgraphia, for example. Directional dyslexia is part of this list, although it is not dyslexia, in the sense of a problem with words. Why exactly so many cognitive abilities are tied together remains a mystery, although as we have noted there are linkages between short term memory deficits and problems with sequences of information tying some of these issues together.
Neuroscience may one day illuminate exactly why some people have more problems with direction than others, but until then, extra planning and prudent use of technology can help all of us get from A to B successfully.
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