When she returned from the summer break last year, British politician Emma Lewell-Buck searched in vain for her office. Many visitors to Westminster are confused by its labyrinthine corridors. However, it was not just the layout that made her walk around the wrong floor of parliament.
Ms Lewell-Buck, 37, has the life-long developmental disorder dyspraxia, which affects the way the brain organises movement and thought. “My sense of direction is very poor,” says the Labour MP. “Even if I have a map it may as well be a blank piece of paper. I have to find my way in an area through landmarks.” As with many people who have such a “hidden” condition, she has devised methods to cope at work. “My paper usage is probably tenfold everyone else’s,” says Ms Lewell-Buck, who represents the constituency of South Shields in the north-east of England. Reading from a screen is a struggle, so she prints out documents and uses highlighters and colour-coded ring-binders to organise key topics.