WARNING: Weird Humor lurks below.
DYSLEXIA: A not-quite-right state of being that is different for every person who has it.
VISUAL IMPAIRMENT: A not-quite-right state of being that is different for every person who has it.
I certainly hope that clears it up for you.
People have asked me, in an unpleasant accusatory tone, “Why do you look blind when you first walk into a new place but after a few hours you don’t?”
I think that deserves an explanation, since the problem involves holes in the visual field, depth perception, and dyslexia.
Imagine that someone has thrown a plain brown box on a table in front of you with the words “Office Interior” written in 2-inch high letters. The box contains a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. When you dump it out, you see various shades of red, blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, blue, white, black scattered on the table.
The fluorescent lights are easy to find, they glare at you in blinding white.
Now that you know where the ceiling is, you can find the walls and put them together. If they’re the same color as the ceiling, that might be a problem, but most ceilings are white and most office walls are off-white or distinctive colors like blue and green.
Once you know where the color of the floor ends and the reception desk begins, you can put together the color of the chairs in the waiting area and, if you’re lucky, the rug on top of the floor tiles might be a different color so you don’t trip on it.
Now that you’ve put the jigsaw puzzle in some sort of order, you know what you’re up against. The floor is white tile, chairs are light blue, a rug the color of cat poop has a light oak-colored table on top of it. Better yet, there is white tile all the way from the door to the oak-colored reception desk. You don’t have to walk between chairs or over a rug to get there.
The next step is to take what you know and find ways to avoid plowing into the desks, walls and furniture.
I’ll start with something easy; how to determine the distance between you and the reception desk. Walk slowly toward it, your hand in front of you. Your body will plow into the desk, but it won’t hurt as much. When you hear the sound of a coffee mug hitting the floor and someone yells out, in his/her surprise, “#*@&^% what the hell?” It’s probably the receptionist.
Hallways aren’t always the same width, and sometimes there are things like water fountains or shelves jutting out to the side. Have your arms slightly out with your hands bent upward looking for the edges of the walls. After a while, you might be able to walk down the hall with your eyes closed, count the doors, listen the the echo of your feet and tell where you are.
At that point, you’re able to navigate the building without much problem.
It should come as no surprise why it takes time for the picture to become clear to me, but it does…eventually.
Faces are a bit of a problem. I can tell who is walking toward me by their gait, and remember the color of the shirt s/he is wearing. Yes, I’ve walked past my own children without recognizing them.
There are 2 things my children are happy to tell you:
- Mom has always worn dark glasses, (they’ve rarely seen me without them), and
- It’s a lot of fun to change your shirt in the middle of the mall so that mom can’t find you.
It might surprise you to know that I have a perfect driving record. After all,
- cars come in colors, too,
- bumpers are easy to stay away from if you never allow your car to lose sight of the bumper in front of you, and
- most cars aren’t the same color as the road. 🙂