I’ve never been good at distinguishing between right and left. If I haven’t prepared myself for it, I have to think about it first. If something tells me to make a left or right turn, I have on numerous occasions turned the wrong way.
People have provided me with ways of figuring it out. I am left-handed, so I should be able to know that the side I write on is the left side. But when unprepared, I cannot recall which hand I use for writing right away – it takes a second or two to figure out.
Another method – hold out your index finger and thumb with your palms facing away – the hand that makes an “L” is your left. Here again, they both look like an “L” to me…
After talking to a few guys at work, I learned that this may be out of the ordinary – so I shoved off to the internets for some diagnosticizing.
Here is a little more background:
When I write using pen and paper, I very frequently get my g’s and q’s mixed up – to the point that I will repeatedly do it wrong, and repeatedly correct. I very frequently switch the order of two commonly occuring letters (like “ng” or “th”).
If I am not careful, I can get confused about the direction a letter or number should face. E and 3 for example: I have on several occasions not been able to remember which one faces which way.
The self-diagnosis condition of the day is: “directional dyslexia” aka “directional confusion”
I was, like everybody else I know, under the impression that dyslexia meant you saw things in reverse. I suppose if I had given it some thought, the title should raise some suspicion: “lex” means word, and “dys” means bad.
What do you know, dyslexia is a reading disorder – where a person simply has trouble understanding and processing words and language.
My reading speed and comprehension are juvenille. I cannot read things that don’t interest me, and even with things that do, my reading is slow. I cannot read without pronouncing the words in my head. I have had to drop classes in college because I simply couldn’t read well enough to keep up with the requirements.
I have always assumed that my writing difficulties stemmed from being left-handed. This new-found information provides an alternative explanation.
BUT WAIT!! There’s more!
Out of my entire edcational career, I had to quit two classes because of reading load. It is very possible and likely that this is more related to ADD than anything else (lack of attention)
There is another, related problem that I have had all my life that had convinced some teachers that I was just no good math.
I cannot do math in my head. At all. I can sort-of add (as long as one of the two numbers is 1 or 2), but I can’t subtract, multiply, divide or anything else in my head. I cannot remember numbers. I can barely tell the greater-than and less-than symbols apart.
So, in 3rd through 8th-grade math, I barely passed. Math was a nightmare for me – I hated it, I feared it, I didn’t get it. Calculators were stll generally forbidden at my school – particularly on tests – and when allowed they could not be graphing.
There was a change in the tides in high school. Graphing calculators were being allowed. Graphing calculators can remember numbers very well. They can remember formulae, and sequences. And they can perform those darn calculations I cannot.
Math was no longer so scary, but I had to have to calculator, and I HAD to “cheat”. (Cheating means storing formulas because I was practically incapable of remembering them with any accuracy)
I learned early on to count using my fingers. I’m just slightly able to remember smaller numbers, so I found I could add numbers whose sum was larger than 10 by counting fingers more than once. Additionally, I learned to count my fingers without looking at them. In this way, I was able to avoid being chastized my by 3rd grade teacher whose responsibility it was to break us of the habit.
And so it is that even today at 25 years of age, I cannot add 23 + 5 without counting up, and I cannot tell how many numbers I have counted up without using fingers. (I’m not kidding. I have to either look at my hands, or move the fingers, otherwise I could not do it)
Totally by accident, I stumbled upon the explanation for my number problems: Dyscalculia.
(Unfortunately the wikipedia article has some validation issues, but you can get the basics)
Even my left-right confusion is included in the list of symptoms.
So now when people at work give me heck for not being able to perform simple mathematical calculations, I’ll give them a silly sounding latin condition that means “counting badly”.