Learning To Drive When Your Slightly Dyslexic

When my mother was teaching me how to write, I wanted to write with my left hand, and she made me learn to write with my right hand. She was left-handed and said everything was made for right-handed people. She was right. One day in junior high, in a room full of 30 desks, there was one left-handed desk. I had the misfortune to sit in it one day and I couldn’t barely write or do anything in it while sitting in it. Imagine how someone who is left-handed having to sit in a right-handed desk. Unfortunately, making someone who by nature is a leftie into a rightie has caused some unforeseen side effects: I’m slightly dyslexic and can’t tell my left from my right to save my life.

Being slightly dyslexic hasn’t really affected my ability to learn. I’ll occasionally see letters turned around to form different words then is actually there. But that didn’t stop me from earning a bachelor’s degree and graduating magna cum laude. Not being able to tell my left from my right has, however, caused a few difficulties, especially when I decided to learn to drive a car, last year.

First problem was memorizing which is a left turn and which is a right turn. That was actually pretty easy. Left turns are made against oncoming traffic. However, figuring out which way to move the stick to turn on the proper turn signal was a big problem. Every time I need to make a turn I have to say inside my head, “Upright.” Put the turn stick up to make a right turn, otherwise put it down to make a left. Over time I now know by instinct which way to put the stick to make the correct turn signal come on.

The biggest problem is which way you turn the steering wheel when you’re making the Vermont Turnaround. It took me weeks to come up with a system to do it correctly. I drew a diagram and which way the front wheels turn when you turn the wheel left or right. Then I acted out on the diagram which way the car would go when it backed up. But when I got behind the wheel I’d still mess up which way to turn the wheel. Finally, I figured out that you turn your wheel in the opposite direction you want your car to go when your finished backing up and turning around.

The end result is I got my driver’s license and because of driving I’m starting to know my left from my right without having to stop and think about it when some asks me for directions or tells me to get something for them that’s on the right side. I don’t know if the whole problem would disappear if I started writing with my left hand. I’ve even tried to write something with my left hand and it just feels unnatural to try while when I was a child it felt natural to try and write with my left hand. I guess the moral of the story is when you force someone to be something different than what they are there can be unforeseen consequences. My mother wanted to make my life more easy by making me right handed, but ultimately she made my life more difficult in ways she never imagined happening.

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