By SHERRIE FAULKNER

Rantoul Press columnist

I am writing today because I am so frustrated. I have a very hard time remembering directions, and my family often teases me and says that I "couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag". I laugh along with them, but inside I feel so frustrated and ashamed. I hate to go to new places and feel panicked just thinking about trying to get there. What is wrong with me?

First, there is nothing wrong with you. We all have our own unique skills and characteristics. A characteristic of yours is that you have a hard time remembering directions.

Secondly, I can totally relate to what you are going through. If I come upon an intersection from a different direction or different time of day than normal, I am completely disoriented. If I finally learn how to get somewhere on my own, I can only go that way — there are no short cuts for me.

When you get a second, look up the term geographical dyslexia (sometimes called directional dyslexia). You will find a lot of information that helps explain what you are experiencing, and more important you will find there is nothing wrong with you and you are not alone.

Something I encourage you to explore are things you can do to cut down on your distress. For example, having very clear landmarks works well for me. When I am given directions, I ask people to include these.

When they say, "turn south on First Street", I ask them, "What will be on the corner?" When I write down directions I find I also need to write down the directions in reverse so I will not get lost on the return trip. I also need people to say "left" or "right" and not use any reference to a compass. In the end, though, if I get lost, I have learned to pull over, take a deep breath and call my husband.  Best wishes to you!

My partner and I are being transferred to Colorado for a new position. While we are very excited about this opportunity for our family I am also a bit worried about how to help our 11-year-old daughter make this transition. Any ideas?

Congratulations on this wonderful new opportunity for your family. I appreciate that you are thinking of the changes your daughter will have to make; even good things can cause us stress.  

I have found that having open and honest communication with children always works best. I suggest, when appropriate, involving your daughter in all your conversations about moving and letting her have as much input as possible into things like where you will live and what school she will go to.  

Allow your daughter to have time and concrete ways to say good-bye to her friends here.  Perhaps you could host a going-away party for her. Encourage your daughter to think of ways to communicate with her friends once she leaves. Besides good old-fashioned letter writing, technology has allowed for many opportunities to stay connected to family and friends.

Once you are in your new home, make sure to continue to check in with your daughter to see how she is feeling. Sometimes keeping a journal can help children transition.

Check out what your new community offers and help her explore the new opportunities and friends that will be available. Children, when well supported are amazingly resilient. I wish you and your family well.

If you have a question you think will help others, please send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com.

This column is not intended to provide counseling/legal advice. Before you undertake any action, you should consult your own social worker/counselor. In the event of a mental health emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Sherrie Faulkner of Rantoul, who writes a monthly column for the Rantoul Press, is a supporter of the local community. If you have a question that you think will help others, you may send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com