Visual Spatial Processing

Visual Spatial Processing is about seeing - and then organizing and remembering.  Some children are excellent at picturing things in their minds; others are not so good.  Some children learn best from pictures and building models.  Others depend more on language for information.  Some children are excellent in understanding how things work.  Others can't fix anything.  Children who find themselves in the former categories are solid visual spatial learners.  Those who struggle in the world of space may have trouble with things like maps, schedules, diagrams, and picture perspectives.  Spatial perception is essential for the recognition of symbols, such as letters and numbers.   Children who struggle with spatial learning can be frustrated in school and at home in ways that are quite different from the typical learner.  They are often the students who forget their books or have lockers that are like "black holes."

Interventions at school (for teachers & students)

Students who have visual spatial weaknesses need to be seated in the classroom where they have clear lines of sight to the teacher, the presentation areas, etc.
These students may need extra time copying information from the blackboard or other presentation areas.  Leaving graphics displayed for long periods of time can be helpful for them.
Allow extra time when work requirements include graphic work such as drawing, locating materials and arranging materials.  Writing and reading can be affected by poor visual spatial discrimination.  Dysgraphia and dyslexia might affect some students.

Large amounts of information that need to be organized can be overwhelming.  It may be helpful to reduce the number of items on a page.
Teachers can highlight important information for the student or teach or teach the student how to pick up on cues like underlining and bold print.
Provide handouts, notes, and outlines for the student instead of requiring copying from the board.
Reduce the amount of reading, or reduce the amount of superficial information in the reading that may distract the learner.

Keep blackboards and other presentation areas uncluttered and devoid of extraneous visual information.
Use a consistent visual spatial format for organizing information on the blackboard.   Write homework assignments in the same area each night.

Provide consistent organizational formats for keeping track of papers, notes, etc.   Provide organizing compartments in desks, notebooks and backpacks.  Use colored paper and index cards to keep the student organized.
Separate examples, and double space written instructions.
Have the student write on every second or third line.  Use double or triple spacing on typed drafts as well.

Simplify visuals - don't add unnecessary frills that only distract the learner.

Provide materials as students need them.

Don't intermix different types of problems just to be tricky.  Example -- keep addition problems in one set and subtraction problems in the other set.

Evaluate textbooks and other educational materials for visual clarity, organization, appropriate lengths, print size, column size, etc.

When assessing the student, teachers should stress content and accuracy in presentations rather than spending too much time on visual appearance.

Allow the student ample opportunities to present information verbally through oral presentations.

Because the student may tend to lose his/her place during a test, allow the student to write answers directly on the test sheet rather than requiring him/her to use a separate answer sheet.

Provide opportunities for learning using dramatics, pantomime, dance, and other motor-based activities.

Allow students to select materials or modes of presentation: oral reports, interviews, drama productions, collages, etc.

Graph paper can be useful in math to help the student organize numbers on paper.   Stress challenge problems written in words rather than numbers and equations.

Group math problems by type (operation sign, problems with regrouping, etc.)

The student may need to use a marker when reading to keep place on the page.

Have the student work on a word processor rather than handwriting compositions, notes, etc.

When possible, reduce the number of transitions for the student, such as fewer trips to the locker, fewer classroom changes, etc.

Before the end of the school day, teach the student to sub-vocalize what is needed for homework.  Make a list of materials needed for homework.  Pack the materials, checking off each item as they are packed.

Provide models and demonstrations when explaining a task before the work gets started.

Provide checklists for editing and proofreading expectations on writing assignments.

In sports, identify positions that require lesser spatial skills.
Interventions at home (for parents & children)

Children with poor visual spatial reasoning should spend a lot of time describing things in words in order to understand and use them.
Play games with your children that emphasize directionality, such as "Simon Says."

Purchase games or puzzle books that require the player to locate hidden shapes/letters in pictures, to locate smaller geometric shapes in larger wholes or to match parts to wholes.

Concentration games are good for strengthening spatial memory.

Use flashcards for spelling and math facts for children  who are confused by the sight of numbers or letters that look similar.

Word search puzzles enhance attention to visual detail.

Work with your child to teach them how to read a map.  Have them track your travels when going on a long trip.

Assist in math homework by dictating the numbers for the child to write.

When completing reading assignments, especially in visually packed textbooks, read the text first, then examine the graphics and diagrams.

Before beginning a home project or chore, have the child preview the task, discuss what a completed task might look like, make a list of materials that will be needed, and collect and organize the materials.

Purchase a globe for your home, hang maps on the walls, and buy books that illustrate how things work.

Develop a mutual interest in art or photography to strengthen visual-spatial appreciation.

Motor skills games such as billiards and bowling, and space strategy games such as checkers and chess may strengthen visual awareness.

Purchase magazines for your home, and take time to interpret graphs, diagrams and graphics for the child.
Provide an organized workspace for homework and school materials.

Provide opportunities for the child to do construction projects that require measuring with rulers, or cooking projects that require using measuring spoons and cups.

A consultation with an occupational therapist may prove useful, especially with very young children.

Regular ophthalmologic evaluations are advisable.

Emphasize sports that do not require significant visual spatial skills such as jogging, swimming, aerobics or weightlifting.