“You need to make a left at this corner. No—your other left” ~ Mr. Aspie Writer
It doesn’t happen every once in a while; it happens all the time.
Whenever I am asked for direction (I am great at giving directions because I remember street names) I stumble over which way to tell the person to turn. I will point to the left and say right, or point to the right and say left—without fail.
I literally have to pick up my hands, look at them, and remember which one I write with. I write with my right hand. When I get those inevitable odd stares, I just laugh and say, “38 years old and I still can’t tell my left from my right.” Ha-ha. But it wasn’t funny, it was embarrassing.
When I am told, “it’s the first door on the right,” I automatically turn left when I get there. It’s in the right drawer, the right cabinet… I open the left drawer and the left cabinet every time. I always thought I just had some strange mental block or something. I mean with a 50/50 chance of accidentally turning the right way (left or right) I get it wrong 100% of the time! What are the odds?
It never occurred to me that there might be a reason, other than my own stupidity, for my difficulty differentiating right from left. It never occurred to me that autism could be the culprit; that I was having spatial perception problems.
When I was younger (early twenties) I taught ballroom dance at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. I needed to call out which foot my partner had to use, and in which direction he needed to move. If my partner was taking a step with his left foot, then I was doing the opposite with my right foot. I never got tripped up. My movements had to be a mirror image of his—always backwards, so I blamed that dance experience for my difficulty with right and left.
After all, since I taught that way for a few months, it must be the reason I still can’t tell right from left almost twenty years later. Right?
I never did come up with a good excuse for why I had difficulty before I worked there.
Autistic children often have spatial problems; of which telling left from their right is only one of the aspects. I don’t know why this surprises me anymore, at this point nothing should. It just seems like every day I am learning something new about myself; my autistic self.
Things that never made any sense, had no good explanation, made me feel silly, stupid, less-than or alone can now be explained. I have a new set of eyes with which to see myself.
Does anyone feel embarrassment over a seemingly simple task? Fumble over left vs. right? Are there any tricks you come up with to help you come to the correct answer more quickly so no-one notices? Unfortunately, my looking at and comparing my hands, often mimicking writing to remember is not exactly inconspicuous.
[ googleplusauthor ]