Problems following directions

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Problems following directions

Post by LucySnowe24 »

Hi guys,

I just discovered this forum and I'm really glad there's a place for dyspraxic adults!

I had a really crappy experience this morning - I got up early because I was planning to go for a walk in the countryside near my city, which is something I've planned to do and done successfully before, on a different route. I'm dyspraxic and autistic and one part of it for me is that I can't follow directions at all. I can't read maps. If I have a set of written directions I can get where I'm going in the end, but I'm guaranteed to go the wrong way at some point. I just can't see how the instructions correspond to the physical world when it's in front of me. When I went on the walk before, I got lost three times, but each time I managed to correct my route fairly quickly and go around the route.

On this walk, I found the starting point, and then there were a number of different routes I could follow. I had some directions I'd printed from the National Trust website but I found them very confusing and like they didn't really describe what I was looking at. I tried following the route I thought was right, walked it for a while, realised I was going in the wrong direction, so turned around and went back to the starting place. I then tried another route but I was pretty sure this was wrong as well. By then I'd been walking for over an hour and literally hadn't got anywhere. Even if I managed to find the right route and stick to it with no mistakes, it was still a fairly long and ambitious walk and I was already beginning to run out of energy. So I decided to just give up and go home again.

Ugh. I feel really angry at myself and embarrassed. I seem like a competent and successful person in a lot of ways and I'd be really ashamed to have anyone in my life know I literally gave up on a walk because I couldn't follow the directions. It's such a basic part of being an independent adult and I'm failing at it. Any advice on how I can get better in the future? Or whether I can stop feeling ashamed about this?
Tom fod
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Re: Problems following directions

Post by Tom fod »

Hi Lucy and welcome

I think this is one of the biggest issues with dyspraxia in that it makes us feel and look less than competent. I've been horribly lost on numerous occasions which has been enough to foul up my day. Route descriptions can be very subjective and what seems obvious to the person writing the route description may not be apparent to the person subsequently trying to follow it at a later date. Equally paths can be diverted or become overgrown and indistinct/or someone has put up a No Trespassing sign

I've done it too on numerous occasions. I got horribly lost in Bristol trying to find Ikea and then horribly lost again trying to find my way back. I even asked for assistance from passers by, and I'm a bloke! When I lived in the Forest Of Dean I'd often go on an extended wander and getting lost was all part of the experience even got lost following a route I knew but had veered off of in the dark.

I very much suspect if I'd had the same directions you'd had, I may well have been lost too.

Even following directions using a smartphone/device is not always something that is easy or reliable and batteries too often rundown at the most inconvenient of times. I got lost in Canada too once (2012 iirc and No phone) I was looking for a waterfall and there were steps and signage I completely missed. I swear any local bears were probably too overcome with laughter at my route finding to bother mauling me!

With a foot full of bullets I tried to run faster but I just hobbled on to the next disaster.
(from Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Foot Full of Bullets)
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Re: Problems following directions

Post by Lilz113 »

Pictures and planning - Don't seem to have too many issues and pretty good with directions now (after years of practice) but I still follow my routine everytime. Before leaving, look at the route on laptop/ipad and then close my eyes and imagine the various turns (if ive done the route before). If i havent then i bring up satellite images or google pubs, rivers etc that are near the turnings so i get a feel for what it should look like "in person". I then look at big easy to spot public places nearby like a mcdonalds or library or just somewhere that has a payphone or free wifi in case I lose my way (and bring charger, phone and charger/battery pack - have to keep a special charger and battery in bag by door or i forget (still forget to charge the battery sometimes))

Also it seems to stop me feeling so overwhelmed when/if i get lost. I also put the three words app on my phone and it has a location "find my phone" that my partner can look at if im really lost/panicking about where to go
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Re: Problems following directions

Post by BettyRizzo »

I just discovered this page and this is the first thing I have read and am in tears . I can identify with all of this so much but Tom,s comment "I think this is one of the biggest issues with dyspraxia in that it makes us feel and look less than competent." really hit a raw nerve . xxx
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Re: Problems following directions

Post by Xenavire »

BettyRizzo, I understand what you mean. After all, even tasks we have done hundreds of times before can go totally wrong - and the frustration that follows is only natural. In my experience, most of the time it's better to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and we should just stay calm and try again if possible. Getting upset frequently makes matters worse, although it's a natural response.

I wish I had good advice for how to calm down, but there aren't any methods that are guaranteed to work for every person. Breathing techniques are one of the most common, and they usually work pretty well for me, so I'd say start there and see what works.
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Re: Problems following directions

Post by BecaLindley »

I have no natural sense of direction! I regularly mix up left and right and struggle to read maps.

My tips are:
1) google maps on your phone!
2) Go out and explore! Leave the instructions and just go with the flow!! Espeically if you can follow your phones GPS back
3) failing that try and stick to main roads, public paths and other things that can be followed back
4) use landmarks, playparks, cafes, weird looking trees. Any thing physical to locate yourself

Remember, if you are walking for fun (not to say, get to work) to have fun. Stay relaxed and just go with it. Unless you go somewhere crazy, your only a emergency uber away from home so try not to over think
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