Monday, 10 June 2013

Odd type of Dyslexia

I‘ve got a strange version of Dyslexia. It was never picked up at school, because it didn’t affect my spelling a great deal, or my learning skills, but I wonder how common it is. I didn’t know it was an aspect of dyslexia until I studied psychology as an adult.

It goes like this:

I can’t tell my left from right – I think this is fairly common with all forms of dyslexia. I have to ‘work it out’ from scratch each time, by asking myself which hand I write with and thinking – ‘that’s my right hand so this must be my left hand.’ For years, I didn’t know that other people didn’t have to do this!

Likewise, east and west are a mystery to me; I’m fine with north, south, up and down. When I learnt to drive, I learnt to use the indicator for direction, so that ‘up’ was one way and ‘down’ the other. I don’t drive these days - I think I’m best kept off the roads, to be honest, because apart from anything, I find it hard to work out which side vehicles are on, in a rear-view mirror.

Reading a map – you’ve guessed it, I’m hopeless. For some reason the worst place in London is Holborn Tube station. When I come out of it, no matter how many different ways I hold the map, I ALWAYS go in the wrong direction.


(Images Microsoft)

This one is hard to explain - I tend to read upside-down markings on the road (eg ‘look left’) as if they are the right way round. I can’t tell that they’re upside down and meant for pedestrians coming the other way. Crossing the road, I always look both ways to be sure!

The last one is to do with playing the cello and is something I’ve only understood recently. I always wondered why I was the only player in the orchestra who had to meticulously mark my music with a special sign to show which direction the bow should go in, when playing a piece. Again, it’s that side to side movement. Keeping the bow going the right way is very important when playing in an orchestra (if you watch professional string players, their bows always go in a uniform direction for purity of sound and to look tidy). No one else but me seems to have to bother with these furiously scribbled pencil markings!

Does this form of dyslexia have a name? Has anyone else got it? It might be worth considering if you have children struggling with left and right - they're not being slow, it's just our brains are wired a bit differently. It's no indicator of academic performance or of motor skills, either - I passed my driving test first time!


  1. I have heard of this - a friend of mine who's a wonderful visual artist has trouble telling left from right. For me, these things are inconsistent - I can sometimes read maps, but not always. Bizarre. And I have no sense of direction, which can be a real difficulty! I have learnt to look out for "markers" to help me find my way! Maybe humans weren't meant to have to find their way around new places. That's my excuse...!

  2. How strange - you seem to have a bit of this, re direction, but not the full-blown left/right thing.


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