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September 23, 2006



My geography teacher said as I went to take the exam ‘good luck - try and get the map the right way up’. I have never understood how a squiggle on a map or sat nav is supposed to represent the road I’m on or want. I am also profoundly deaf so cannot lip-read what a sat nav might be saying. So unfortunately sat nav’s are useless for me.
I’m struggling to ‘prove’ the cannot plan our follow a journey part of my disability claim. Doctors are not listening and just say deafness isn’t a reason. I agree with that but they are not listening to why it is so hard to go anywhere without someone with me. If one of the few routes I can do has a diversion I am lost. I cannot travel to hospital alone as I would never get there. All doctors are interested in are the issues they know of - yet there has never been any reason to discuss my inability to understand a route unless I repeat it countless times to somehow ‘fix’ it in my head. Even then there’s missing sections I cannot recall but on reaching that point when driving I know it.
I know my left from my right, don’t get lost at home, but will in a hospital or other building. I never know what direction I am facing or where to go. I cannot attend family occasions as I simply have no ability to store what counties, towns, roads to use in what order, to get there.
If anyone can advise how to get help in the UK I should be immensely grateful.


Me and my sister both have this. We have theorized it was caused by lead pipes in our childhood home. Though that may just be us looking for an explanation and be unrelated. It's incredibly hard to explain to people, but I think comparing it to color blindness is accurate. In my mind left and right do not exist. No amount of concentration will change that, I just have to cope as best I can.


Entah sudah berapa banyak, saya sering tersesat bahkan untuk jalur yang telah saya lalui atau sering saya lalui. Terkadang saya merasa frustasi dan takut untuk pergi ke tempat baru seorang diri. Tak jarang saya di olok, dan merasa malu dengan teman teman saya. Saya juga tidak mengerti mengapa saya begitu kesulitan untuk menentukan arah, seperti di persimpangan. Saya pernah mengunjungi sebuah bioskop bersama teman, tempat nya tidak terlalu besar. Tapi, saat berkunjung kembali seorang diri, saya tersesat. Senang sekali saya menemukan blog ini dan membaca komentar kalian, bahwa ternyata saya tidak sendiri. Terimakasih telah berbagi pengalaman dan tips nya.


Wow this is so great! My geographical dyslexia isn't as terrible as some people's in the comments, but I do have to think hard and visualise all the routes out of my (relatively small) hometown that I've lived in on and off for 42 years, in order to remember how to get to any of the next towns over. I get lost and disoriented easily and will often take the wrong direction out of a shop or somewhere. It once took me 20 minutes of wandering around a large shopping precinct in order to find the right underground parking lot, and then another 10 to find my car (even though I deliberately always take pictures of the nearby signs that identify the different areas). I have no idea how I managed to get to work before GPS, especially since I work in constantly changing locations. I know I used to memorise the directions and road names line by line every night, thank goodness I don't have to do that any more! I can read maps ok but have great difficulty translating them into the real world around me - it's a bit easier if I spin the map round so that it's facing the same direction I am. Like many others here, I'm pretty intelligent - I qualified for MENSA in the top 1 percentile. My job actually demands excellent spatial awareness, in terms of relating the positions of objects to each other. One thing I am terrible at though is estimating distances or measurements, e.g. I cannot estimate the size of a room, for example. Another thing I think might be related is that, although I have an excellent memory for facts and rote learning (I still remember many poems I memorised in school, and can recite the opening of The Aeneid in Latin and English, because I once had to read it at Speech Day), I have an appalling memory of my own life. I retain very few childhood memories. I can watch a tv show and the next week I will have barely any recollection of what happened until I rewatch it, which triggers the memory. I watched a Christmas film with a massive surprise twist one year, and the next year watched it again and was completely floored by the same twist (which I do now recall). My boyfriend thought it was hilarious and unbelievable that I could have forgotten it. My mind was blown by one commenter's suggestion that it could be connected to premature birth of a month or more, and pregnancy stress hormones. I was 12 weeks premature, and my mum had previously had part of her cervix removed which lead to an earlier miscarriage and an injunction from her doctor to bed rest as much as possible, so I'm sure her cortisol levels were through the roof. I also tried to come out chin first, had jaundice and a hole in my heart, was in an incubator for several weeks and in hospital for nearly 3 months, so pretty traumatic although obviously I have no memory of it. My parents have always expressed surprise that my cognitive abilities were not at all impaired, but perhaps they were after all! Thanks for everyone's comments, so interesting!

Gwendolyn Robinson

Well... it feels good to be home!! I always believed I had some un-named condition and that there had to be someone else on the planet with the same problem. I am so glad to meet you all. You have described me perfectly. Very intelligent, three college degrees, magna cum laude graduate, Family Nurse Practitioner, fantastic career and at the same time I have often felt "retarded" because of not being able to find my way home. I have always felt like my brain was in backwards or turned inside out because I always seemed to perceive my surroundings as though I was viewing everything in a mirror and everything was on the opposite side. Getting lost a million times, stepping off the same elevator on the floor; often feeling like someone had blindfolded me, put me in the center of a room, spun me around several times then uncovered my eyes leaving me in a total state of confusion and disorientation. In my world, there is no left or right, north or south, east or west. I even got "LOST" on the train after going straight ahead to the dining car but could not find my way back to my seat!! I actually had to draw a map to help me find my seat. Frustrating beyond imagination! I'm so glad God gave me a heart, because that is the ONLY way I can tell my left from my right. The one good way this disability has served me is in performing physical examinations on patients because when facing them, their left side is to my right!! In my world, that is exactly where it should be, in fact everything should be on the opposite side! One of my most embarrassing moments was leaving a relative's house and them giving me directions on how to get back to the highway. They had no idea, that I was paying no attention to what they were saying because I was trying to figure out how to back out of their driveway and whether I should go left or right. Just so embarrassing. All it takes is one wrong turn, and I am totally lost and confused, whether I am driving or walking. I am now 74 years old. I have learned to be patient with myself and resist the urge to panic because I know that eventually I will find my way. It feels so good to be in this community of kindred sufferers.

Julius Koome

Thanks for the text. I am dyslexic too.Its comforting to realize that there others in a similar situation like me. Julius.

Ana Figueira

All my life I thought of myself as being different from other people, because orientation has always been a very difficult task for me. For many years I thought that I didn’t pay attention to the routes and landmarks, just like my family and friends kept telling me. But deep inside I knew it had to be far worse than that. I’m now in my late sixties, and only recently did I begin to wonder if this could be a special condition, something in the brain, and if there were others like me. That’s how I found your comments. I share almost all of your problems. I use my right hand for certain tasks (writing, throwing, ironing) and my left hand for others (sewing, cutting with scissors or knives, washing the dishes…). Someone wrote in other forum: “Even with well rehearsed long journeys, I seem unable to ‘hold’ the entire journey in my head. I experience what can only be described as a series of ‘sequences’ which, in the correct order, ‘become revealed’ as I progress through the journey.” I could have written these same words, because this is exactly how I feel. Big shopping malls are places to avoid… giving directions to other people is impossible, even in my own neighborhood. I drove only during a period of 8 years, when driving to and from work became absolutely indispensable, but I had to rehearse the journey many times… I memorized the journey from point A to point B, and back… and that was all. When the road happened to be closed due to road repair works or accidents, I carefully drove to the nearest place where I could safely park, and called for help. Now I don’t drive anymore. Someone that is always in panic when within a car can be a very dangerous driver… I am, like all of you, a very normal person: always a very good student (I have a PhD), a long and successful career, great family and social life – but I can’t be as independent as I would like to be, because I am always afraid of getting lost. It’s frustrating! The good thing is that, if this is something that affects not only me but a lot of people, perhaps it will get the attention of the scientific community… Ana Figueira, Lisboa, Portugal


My older brother just introduced me to all this information & I thank him for this! I can truly relate to all your comments and now feel that I wasn’t a complete idiot whenever I couldn’t find my way and can’t follow a sequence of directions! Thank goodness I have my phone & GPS for guidance!

Peggy Handy

I am sure this has been my problem for most of my adult life. The most frustrating thing is that people think you're stupid or just make excuses when you're asked by friends to all meet up somewhere and you either have to miss out on the fun because you are afraid you will get lost or ask if someone could pick you up. I can understand them getting frustrated with you asking, that's why I would just bow out of activities. This has been such a handicap for me. If there is a book out there or a group that is or has formed, I would love to know.

Jennifer Davies

I too have suffered being directionally challenged all my life. I rarely leave the house for fear of getting lost. I have my one set way of getting to and from places. I have always had sensory processing issues though and after my 3yo was diagnosed with autism I have realized I too am autistic. I have extreme car sickness due to vestibular issues so I was drugged quite a bit as a young baby and child so not sure if I was unable to develop directional awareness or if I have poor spacial awareness due to my vestibular discrimination disorder. Hoping more research is done. My son is a vestibular seeker unlike me and even though he is 3yo helps get me home when we go on walks around the neighborhood. So glad he did not get my terrible sense of direction.

N Chmura

In my family we have always said that my mother and I are directionally challenged. I am constantly getting lost if I don’t have a picture in my mind of an intersection I am supposed to turn at or god forbid they change my mental marker that signals me that is where I need to turn. GPS has been a lifesaver I only drove a little while without a GPS I still will get lost and turn the wrong way but it is less frequent.

Frances J Kinney

I found your site several years ago and it was a comfort to me All my life I have had this issue. Even as a little child I would get lost on my block! Or going two blocks to buy bread! etc. I lived in Alaska for half my life and fortunately, we didn't have too many roads for me to get lost on when driving! I would drive hundreds of times to the same place and I would still get disorientated. Now living at the bottom of a mountain range in rural Arizona this is still an issue. I try using visual cues like a certain mountain range to drive to but it will always be an issue. I had a great successful professional career, leadership roles even in my retirement but I still get very frustrated with myself going places even food shopping, doctor's appointments, etc. when I get turned around. I try to be more forgiving of myself and just leave plenty early when I have to go somewhere. I love GPS voice directions. Oh, I might mention that although all my family knew of my directional "issues" they also would comment that I have exceptional hearing. I know that's true because often I must block out conversations I can hear going on around me and I always had the ability to hear the proper pitch in music. I often wondered if all of that was related. Hopefully your friends and family will be more tolerant of our issue and that we try to less frustrated with ourselves.

Leslie P

I am going to show my husband all of these comments. He gets to frustrated that I can't figure out what way to turn at an intersection we have been at before, because this time I we are coming at it from a different direction.

It takes me about 7-8 times of traveling a route until I know the route well enough to not need help. GPS can be helpful, but is not a cure all. I will second guess the instructions and turn too early, then panic while the GPS is trying to reroute, but is not fast enough for me not to have traveled too far in the wrong direction, causing me to be late.

When I have to drive someplace new, and it is very important that I get there on time, I leave early. Sometimes I travel the route the day before and always have on my GPS; my best strategy is to use street view on Google Maps to make notes before I start my trip. I will look at the directions on Google Maps and then for each turn, I place the yellow small man on the street at the turn so that I enter street view. Then I can write down note like, "when turning right on NE 57th, you will pass an Arco on the right hand side. The turn is shorty after that gas station. If you see a Wendy's then you have missed the turn and gone too far." I do this for each change in a route i.e. any turn. This helps tremendously. I know many of you use tricks for driving, but if you have not tried this one, I hope it may be of use to someone.

It is not just right and left and North, South, East and West that I struggle with. I have problems with number sequences, such as the Dewey Decimal system. I am a Librarian and have been upfront about my directional dyslexia, careful to explain that this effects not just directions. I can not be counted on to correctly shelve books, for suddenly 104.367 is right next to 104. 673.

If someone spells a word out loud, I have a hard time writing the word down. It takes me a few seconds longer to translate the verbal sound of a letter into a letter and the person will invariable go too fast for me to get the letters all down correctly. I also have problems with turning keys in locks and turning the faucet the right direction for the desired temperature. When tired or stressed, I confuse p, b, and d. Calendar dates are a struggle too. I will write down the wrong date, even the wrong year at times, while the voice in my head is saying the correct date. When reading it back to myself I won't see the mistake, I just read it as I think I have written it down.

I am a voracious reader and can write fairly well. I assume I write better than the average person, but not better than those with the same level of education that I have attained. I struggle with grammar, but thankfully their are many tools for that.

I too find it comforting to know I am not alone in this. One of the saddest parts of having directional dyslexia is friends and family who do not believe you and think that you are just not trying hard enough. That if you just "take a mental snap shot" of each turn, you should be able to remember it the next time. It just takes repetition for me to really remember a route.

I love cities that are laid out like a grid. I lived in downtown Portland Oregon for years and loved that Burnside separated South from North and the Willamette River separated East form West. I could always tell if I was in one quadrant and have a good general sense of the direction I needed to travel in to get to another quadrant. Thank you to the city planners of Portland!

As far as cause, I know that premature babies who are born a month or more premature are at an increased risk for dyslexia. Spatial awareness and sequencing may develop in that last stages of fetal development. I was born 1 month and 1 day earlier than was expected. I think that may have something to do with the "why" of my condition. Yet, many of the commenters here talk about this being a family trait. I am sure that is true too. It may be that those with a family history of dyslexia, of any form, are more likely to develop the deficit and the odds are even higher if you are exposed to an early in utero trauma like premature birth or emergency, high stress birth. My Mom had hyperemisis, 9 month long morning sickness that is present all day, throughout her pregnancy with me, which must have introduced stress hormones , Cortisal?, in the uterine environment. I wish there were more studies on the effects of stress and trauma in utero, how hormones effect dyslexia in utero and the genetic component of dyslexia of all forms.

Thank you for writing about this very real mental deficit.


I am 17 years old and all my life I have suffered these issues. With the exception of having problems recognizing left and right I can relate to each and every thing mentioned here. I will be getting my learner's permit soon and honestly, few things scare me more.
Thank you for putting this out there. I always thought I was the only one. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one facing this.

Doris Hicks

There is something called developmental topographical disorientation. For many years researchers in Canada have been offering a forum for people to communicate with other people who have this problem, and to find out about the research being done. Check out the website at https://forum.gettinglost.ca/topic/624/past-and-future-of-dtd

Dukilda Ha

It’s about that time I have to go see my doctor for a physical and I was debating whether I should tell her about this problem that I have because I am embarrassed. I have always been made fun of by my brother and dad (both of whom have very good sense of direction) for not knowing how to get somewhere even though I have been there multiple times. I get so anxious when I’m approaching an intersection and I have no picture in my brain of where I’m going, where I’m turning, how far away I am and rely only on my passengers direction again usually my dad and brother. Sometimes my dad purposely won’t tell me directions because he expects me to know it but I don’t think he understands that I am not faking it when I say okay I’ll drive us there but I have no idea where to go and how to get there. For some time I avoided looking up whether this is normal because I feared getting being faced with a diagnosis that doesn’t suite me like autism. And in no way do I mean that in a wrong way but I consider myself very intelligent, motivated and I don’t struggle with remembering anything else but directions so it has been confusing this whole time. I’m very happy that I’m not alone and you best believe I read all of you guys stories and I feel relieved that this is “normal” to some extend... except for the embarrassment that we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives

Diane F.

I jokingly say I have a gift for getting lost. But as you all know, it’s no joke. Thank you for giving it a real name, and for letting me know I am not alone.


Wow what a great and comforting website. I have had directional dyslexia my entire life (inherited from my father apparently though I didn't realize this until we took a trip together after i was an adult)
I also had no clue what it was called until 15 or more years ago when I was explaining to someone that I needed to write down the directions both to and from her house and she said "Oh I have directional dyslexia too - I completely understand." Until then my family just laughed at my "spacy" directionally challenged thing. Every time I'd walk out of a restaurant or movie theater, etc. I would begin striding confidently in the wrong direction. My husband learned to just wait a minute before asking where I was going or to just say nothing until I figured out he wasn't with me. My granddaughter now struggles with several learning disabilities and I realize that she is also dyslexic in this way. Like nearly everyone else has mentioned, I have college degrees and have had a successful career. However many people have not heard of this "disability" which is what drove me to the internet today after trying to explain it to the Director of a Chorus I have sung with for several years. I was alway comfortable standing near the middle of the chorus on the middle level on the risers. When she moved me to the end of one of the rows today, I suddenly became disoriented and even felt a little dizzy. Spatial disorientation. Really appreciate this site!

Ed Reints

Thank God for this! I finally discovered that I am not an idiot. I work at a very complex electrical job. I never have problems with my actual work, but I often hear "I sent him to get a part next door, and he has been gone a half hour". " He is screwing off". "That new guy is an idiot, can't find his ass with both hands" etc. I just moved to a new city, and I have to rely on my phone GPS to get home, even after 50 times. I use all the mentioned aids, making notes etc. I have a pilot's license, and no difficulty with flying at all, but I can get lost trying to park. The parking lot at Walmart can bring me to tears. I am going to bring it up at with my doctor.

Tony Waterfield

I have always known it was a real condition - I knew I wasn't stupid- but that was often how it made me feel, that plus panicked.I am spatially aware, can figure 3 dimensional objects, worked successfully as a Mechanical Engineer for 40+ years, know my left from right, can read maps and in all other respects seem to be "normal" but somewhat absent minded. I have no sense of time either nor any real sense of place. I live in a sort of isolated geographic bubble isolated from other places and where time doesn't really exist. I can work round this and with prompts, lists etc can manage to get along. I panic when keeping an appointment. I inevitably set of much, much to soon and panic my way to the meeting/show or whatever only to get there far,far too early and well before anyone else arrives and then panic that I have got the wrong place or the wrong date or the wrong time.
My problem is really connecting up things to make sense of them. I can remember fine detail about a small part of a walk I have done but as an isolated detail. I will often remember several bits of different walks and be convinced that they were in fact a single hike. Same with driving.
My wife has a wonderful sense of direction (fortunately) but there a couple of noteworthy observations.
Inside building I am much better at navigating than she is. Hotels, Airports etc are no problem for me but outside I am hopeless. Shopping Malls however get classed as outside and once in I can rarely find my way out again. Like many of you I almost inevitably turn the wrong way, very often 180 degrees out - but not consistently enough to rely on this error!
We live in the UK but once spent almost 6 months in South Africa- Southern Hemisphere - and suddenly I was the one who had a sense of direction while my wife experienced my normal condition for the first time in her life. I somehow knew North, South etc and which way to turn. Weird! Maybe I have got a Southern Hemisphere brain in a Northern Hemisphere head!

I am not sure that sharing with others will help me at all but maybe you might recognise some of the symptoms

Naomi Thomas

I feel your pain!
I've described my problem as "directional dyslexia" for years, without realising it's becoming slowly recognised as a genuine entity.

My Mum's speech, in rhyme, at my wedding: "3rd of March, at 4.15/ born by Caesaerean Section/ Trying to enter the world knees first/ says much for her sense of direction!" Much (good natured) laughter all round.

I initially dismissed that I had a "left/right" problem, because I wouldn't describe myself as having a problem there. Yet EVERY time I have to think which is left or right, I pinch my finger and thumb together as if writing and work it out that way - it's just so quick that I'd forgotten it used to be a problem when I was quite small.
My husband is a neurologist, and did a masters in neuropsych. He practiced his neuropsych tests on me, and, being a pretty bright, professional woman, I was in the top 5% band for almost all areas, except testing short term memory of complex sequencing.
Trying those tests was such a bizarre feeling - I described it as like suddenly developing a funnel shaped sink hole in my thought processes, and I could almost physically feel the thoughts slipping away down into it like sand.

My usual approach to not being able to do something is to work really hard at it, until I can. I've got pretty good at finding my way around, for short distances, on foot, but I don't think I do it in the same way as other people. I deliberately note landmarks, and mentally picture the route in several different ways. It helps that walking means I have the time to use these strategies, but I am more likely to bump into people whilst doing it though - it uses too much cognitive horse power.

With a car, I'm still terrible. It will probably take me 20 times to learn a route to work, and I can still take a wrong turn and get lost if I'm distracted.

Other forms of spatial awareness, like manipulating complex shapes, and picturing the course of a vein as I insert a long line (I'm a doctor!) are not a problem at all. The trick with the mirrors you sometimes see in science museums, where you have to move an object along a complex course when you can only see mirror images of your hands - I'm BRILLIANT at that! I wonder if that's part of lifelong compensation for a lack of instinctive knowledge of left and right?

I have a couple of other areas that might ally with this, that are somethimes associated with dyspraxia and dyslexia - clumsiness in crowds, distractability, and naturally poor organisational skills - but I worked at this so hard, with lists and tick boxes, that I perform above average at work.

It's nice to hear from other people in the same boat. You're not alone, and somehow, knowing that this can be a genuine cognitive disabilty, makes it less embarrassing. As someone else said, no-one expects a colour blind person to be embarrassed when they can't distinguish crimson from scarlet!

We're lucky we live in the era of sat-nav. Other things I've found that have really helped are developing little strategies to pass off the work of remembering where you're going into a different brain area. Reciting directions aloud like a poem, commenting out loud on what can be seen out of the car whilst driving along (helps when you have small kids in the car), taking mental pictures of everything around you. I might not be able to recall a complex stream of abstract instructions, but I can learn a poem easily, or remember that there is a beautiful meadow with weird sheep that look a bit like pigs in the field near my house.

I've also, on occasion, written directions down when I've had to ask for them - it's amazing how pleasant and patient most people are when you cheerfully tell them "I've got directional dyslexia; I'll forget this after the second instruction if I don't write it down!" I think it also makes people more careful in the directions they give you.

Despite all the coping strategies though, sometimes having a label can make you feel more normal rather than less!


I was told by an Occupational Therapist yrs ago that I had "spatial dyslexia" pertaining to my complete absence of sense of direction. It was so comforting to find more information on this subject. My husband now realizes this is an actual condition, and I can't just suddenly obtain a sense of direction. I drive & he navigates. In any choice of 2 directions, I will always choose the wrong one. Can't do puzzles, chess, backgammon, etc. I have a degree in business, one in nutrition, and a master's degree in nutrition and institutional administration. I'm an intelligent person with this awful problem! At least now I know it is a recognized, scientific problem with specific limitations.


What a relief to find this site. I have so many stories, and so much of what people have said here is true of me. I worked in a small conference center twice a month (for 3 days at a time) for several years and EVERY time i left the room to go to the restroom i turned the wrong way (BTW my nickname is 'Wrong Way')
Someone mentioned NYC - I've been living here for 30 years and most times i get out of the subway i head in the wrong way. I also can’t reverse direction. When I need directions – traveling on my own (before GPS) I always ask for ‘directions for dummies’ – that’s how specific they need to be. Fortunately has an amazing sense of place. Years ago my husband joked he should put R /L on my hands.
I'm 65. I own a successful business; have done well professionally. But I began to worry that this was the beginning of early Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Today, when I once again took the wrong direction I thot I better google and see if I could find info.

Thanks to all who commented here. It was so helpful!

Chloe Ganser

I've always referred to it as "geographically challenged" when trying to explain to my friends and family why I need the address when it's on the same road that I live on. It's nice to know that this is a real thing. My first day of middle school I was looking down at the map and I ran into a Pole. As a young child I would get lost in big houses. My father was a marine and we once spent 9 hours learning how to read the hands on a clock. I can drive, with a map not a paper map Google maps. I was born in Florida and it only took me 18 years to learn the roads in my town. I was just learning north,east,south and west when I moved to indiana for work. The seasons make it more challenging. Everything looks different in the winter. I don't remember my dreams and I have a bad short term memory. Any cure?


Is there a support group for directional dyslexia patients? or anyone i could talk to I felt like I was the only one in the world that had these problems till read this thread.


I feel so relieved that I am not alone in this. I can't forget this scenario when I was in college and we are playing like a dance revo game where there are arrows (up, down, right, left) on the floor and you will just follow/step on what was displayed on the screen. And I am confused why do I step on exactly the opposite way and I get lost in the middle of the game. I felt so stupid and I was traumatized. And also when someone says left or right, it takes for like 3-5 seconds for me to distinguish which is which. I always feel stupid and I thought I am dumb because I can't understand my situation back then. And also I get lost all the time. when I go to the bathroom for example in a mall, and then when I need to come out and come back to where my companions are, I have no clue which way to turn, it's really frustrating for me. Then one day I learned the term dyslexia. It's like the condition of a person reading something in reversed. And i correlated it with my condition with directions then researched about it. And there's a term directional dyslexia or dysorienta. which is also the result of weak short term memory which I exactly have. I tend to forget things easily and it is very difficult for me to store long term memory. I felt relieved because from that day I will not label myself as stupid or dumb anymore.

Gina Holmes

I loved reading everyone's comments. This is such an embarrassing malady and I get laughed at a lot, or assumed that I must be an idiot. I'm very intelligent except in this one area. Can tell my left from right but literally have entered my home address into GPS while sitting in front of my house in the dark. I get lost in bathrooms as well. I must look like I'm on drugs sometimes. I also worked as a dialysis nurse for a year and trying to set up the intricate dialysis machines, was problematic because of this. I'd love to read studies on this disorder. I had difficulty learning to tell time, and did get some letters and numbers backwards, but I'm an award-winning novelist who loves to read and has no real difficulty with words. Just geography and things like time zone conversions (oy vey on that one). Thanks to everyone who shared their stories!


I believe I've been suffering with Directional Dyslexia as long as I can remember. How can I find help?


I was a truck driver for 25 yrs.traveling all over the US. I had an almost super sense of direction. Never lost my sense of direction, during all those years..
In 1989 I moved my family about 90 miles north of my home town to a 12 acre home place.Since day one on this property I've lost my sense of north, south, east, west.
I can'n find nothing about this online, I thought I'd post in case someone else has experienced anything like this?

Nancy B.

I'd also like to add that, unlike some websites that like to lump this in with directional dyslexia, I have never had problems differentiating left from right.

Some sufferers of "directional/geographical dyslexia" have mentioned that they never recall their dreams. I'm wondering if anyone else has this because I do. I only remember one or two dreams a year, if that.

Nancy B.

The idea of "switching the directions around in my head" sends me into a bit of a panic. My brain simply isn't capable of doing it. I'm pretty sure my "directional dyslexia," as I've referred to it most of my adult life, also relates to an inability to see spatial layouts in my head. For example, I can't visualize how I'd like a room decorated or a poster laid out. I have to physically lay things out or sketch them and then make changes until it looks right. I'm not a fan of jigsaw puzzles either, and I think that's related.


Great thread. I’m 42 year old woman, with a law degree and I’ve always had this same, mysterious and remarkable lack of geographical orientation even in finding my home of 20 years. This despite my family members, by and large, having extraordinary ability to know where they are in relation to where they want to be (even the first time they visit a new city. Graduated first in my class undergrad, with a full ride to law school but I had great trouble learning left from right (I don’t know actually know my right from my left without “cheating” and pretending I’m going to write because I know I’m right handed, and I know which hand holds the pen if I think about it), and I struggled to tell time, learning to tie my shoes, finding compass points, graphing slope, etc. My late Grandfather, an Colonel in the USAF, and fighter pilot in WW2 was fascinated with my problem, and spent a whole summer testing my geographical deficits. He confided one day that he wish he had known that this- whatever it is- is a real condition because as a pilot, when he trained new pilots, and later trained cadets at a large college, he assumed men who seemed unable to orient themselves were shirkers or idiots- and because Grandpa knew I was intelligent, but so completely lacking any geographical orientation in any surroundings, he felt terrible for those men- I imagine they were shunted to some undesirable duty, but realistically, despite 20-10 vision, I could never see myself being able to pilot or navigate a plane with this problem so probably best those lost men weren’t dropping bombs from above. When I was 20, I once tried following phone directions to a meeting at my bosses’ home about 45 minutes away, and I ended up in the wrong state, three hours away. My first husband was actually very understanding and helpful about my problem, and he was a police detective, and I know he told all the dispatchers that if I called, I’m probably lost, and unable to find my way home, and he asked them to dispatch a radio car for me to follow, which, God Bless them, they did, on more than one occasion. I’m hoping GPS continues to improve because I lack the ability to know when it is sending me the wrong way. I always keep my gas tank full, and phone charged in preparation for getting lost. So long as you don’t panic in getting lost, you’ll get home. If you panic, then it’s easy to compound the problem and have an accident.
In any case, we’ve all learned coping techniques, and anxiously await the day medical science can explain what this condition is and why we have it. It would be nice to know how many of us there are....


Thank you for this comforting, and hysterically funny blog. I have often said to myself, Kathy, you couldnt find your way out of a paper bag...and how many times did I turn right to enter the bathroom at Walmart, and failed to reverse that coming you and walked into a wall. It certainly does make life interesting. I read where this can is associated with spacial dyslexia, and would explain why I had such a hard time learning to drive. Judging distances is very difficult, and where I am suppose to be on the road. There is much more to this, everyone should do a through research to understand this dysfunction. And yes, thank you, just thank you! Kathy


Thank you. Just, thank you.


I remember driving home from work one day, and my phone ran out of battery, and I couldn'the use it as a GPS. And yes, I still need a GPS to get from work, even though I go there all the time. I've actually almost gotten into legal trouble because of this. A cop that pulled me over for some traffic infraction found it suspicious that I was using my GPS to get from work. He thought I was lying to him.
It took me over an hour and a half to get home when I live only 15 minutes from work. I kept driving in circles. I would often not realize I was going the wrong direction until I passed a sign saying I was entering a completely different city.
I have many other problems as well. For example, I still don't remember the way to my old high school.

Carolyn Barcus

I have always known I had "Dyslexia of Direction" because my optometrist explained it to me more than 40 years ago. I once was on North High street unable to find South High Street! But have successfully navigated solo motorcycle trips cross country--I always reviewed maps at rest stops. Reviewing written directions is not helpful; I really need to see the layout of the roads on the map.

However, on a couple of trips to Great Britain, I was able to easily find my way around, even on my second trip to find the same little B&B I had stayed at ten years earlier, and to find a short-cut out of a castle from the third floor great hall. Surprisingly, I was never lost in GB.

Denise E. Reddick

I thought I was the only with "dysgeographia", that is other than my father, uncle and son.
I thought I was rather clever at hiding this condition from others until I was re-certifying for BLS and one of the doctors yelled out, "Hey Dolly I didn't know you were left handed" (I'm R-hand dominate). After thirty something years of doing CPR how did I come up with this? Oh well, it's been effective (sometimes).
As everyone else has mentioned at times it can be amusing(?)but it can quickly turn to panic and further confusion in certain situations.

 Norma  greenwood

Thank you for this blog. I get lost in the ladies room trying to figure out which door is the exit. If there are two door I usually choose the wrong one
I always thought it was just because I wasn' really paying attention to my surroundings. Right now I am traveling in Europe and while I love exploring, I panic at the thought of getting lost in the small ally's and twisting strets. I cope by taking cell phone photos of landmarks as I go along_like dropping breadcrumbs! I too was left handed and trained to use my right hand- also had lifelong problems with sports- never could remember which way to swing the tennis racquet. I can't tell you how many times I was patiently taught to knit but once I take a break, can't remember which direction Ito continue working. Same is true for sewing. I am an artist and love travel- and can count on getting lost everyday-thankfully, there are so many people willing to help!

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.


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.


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...


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!


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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!


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!


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


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.


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.( [email protected]). 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).


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.


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


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.


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.


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.😄


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.


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!


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 [email protected].

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.


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 .


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 :)


And all this time, I thought it was just me!


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.


• 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.

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