Getting lost in the restaurant after going to the toilet, going the wrong way after walking out of the store or not finding your way home. For some this is everyday life. This may be due to misdirection, but there is also such a thing as spatial dyslexia, or Topographical developmental confusion (DTD). Neurologist Phyllis Vanualijm explains what it is. “In some cases it is congenital, in others it develops after trauma to the brain.”
For those unfamiliar with developmental topographic confusion (DTD) or spatial dyslexia, the explanation is quite simple. People with this condition literally get lost in their own homes. And they really can’t do anything about it. “People with DTD have a complete lack of talent to make a three-dimensional spatial plan in their brains based on what their eyes transmit from the environment,” explains neurologist Phyllis Vanwallijm of AZ Monica Deurne.
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Getting lost in your home isn’t the only example of spatial dyslexia. “Suppose there was a puddle of water in your hallway, a person with DTD wouldn’t know how to walk around it. One of the most extreme patients was so completely lacking in spatial orientation that she didn’t know how to turn to face her interlocutor when she heard a sound.”
Not black and white
However, we should not compare the case with people who are simply inferior to directing. “Because they still have the talent somewhere in their brains to draw that spatial map. People with DTD are not able to.”
This condition is extremely rare and is four times more common in women
“I always look at it from a certain spectrum,” says Dr. Vanwalleghem. “You have people who instantly know where north is and therefore have trouble with orientation. You have the average person who has to scan the environment to see which side of the street he or she is, and then you have those who are bad at orientation and therefore have to pinpoint their exact locations. At that extreme end Of the spectrum are those with spatial dyslexia. They are so indescribably bad in their orientation that it is very unpleasant and even invalidates them.”
“You can also visualize the effect of DTD by the way these people draw a floor plan of their home. This has been researched before and that study showed that people with DTD divide their homes because all the rooms follow each other, while the roommate without DTD shows Turbulence ratios of spaces in the same floor plan as in reality.”
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Since the disease was only discovered in 2009, research on it is still in its infancy. However, this condition has already been shown to be extremely rare and is four times more common in women. “But you have to take that last conclusion with caution,” says Dr. Vanwallijm. “I’ve been wondering for a while: is this really the case or do women tend to underestimate themselves and men overestimate themselves in terms of talent?”
Studies also show that individuals with DTD can be divided into two groups. There are people in whom the disorder is congenital and therefore hereditary. Often a parent or grandparent is very poor in spatial orientation. The other group includes people who developed the disorder after a brain injury as a result of a hemorrhage, stroke, major accident, or tumor injury. The effect of turbulence is greater for them, because they have built their whole life without turbulence. So it requires a massive adjustment in the sense that some can no longer practice their profession, such as an architect or a skipper. “
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Unfortunately, DTD cannot be cured, but there are a number of tools that can teach you how to treat it. Always ask people to show you the way on the basis of visual support points. For example: “Go up to the post office. There you will see a red flag waving. Ascend to this flag. GPS will also take you a long way. These means won’t suddenly make you very good at mentoring, but they will make your life easier.”
Unexpected situations, such as demonstrations, an urgent ambulance or roadblock, are a disaster for people with DTD
However, they also have some pitfalls. Doctor. Vanwalleghem: “When the GPS indicates ‘turn left’ or ‘turn right,’ it can still be difficult for people with spatial dyslexia to interpret it correctly. But even more difficult are unexpected situations, such as demonstrations, and an ambulance that has to pass Urgently, roadblock… This is actually a disaster for people with DTD. After that, someone else will walk around the building, but getting to a new road is very difficult for him.”
Not stupid or stupid
Often a person with this neurological problem is not noticeable from the outside. “So be careful,” says Dr. Vanwalleghem. For example, never make comments like, ‘My six-year-old knows where the toilet is better than you do’ or ‘I’ve explained that 15 times now, why don’t you listen?’ “Don’t make someone with poor orientation or spatial dyslexia feel clumsy or stupid, because it has nothing to do with intelligence. These people know that, and they can’t orient themselves.”
She also has another tip for those who get lost in our community sometimes. “Never say ‘sorry’. It’s absolutely not necessary. You have other talents that someone else might not have, so keep developing them.”
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