Welcome to the Visual Spatial Learner - Not a disability, but a World of Opportunity

Leigh Ann - posted on 02/05/2009 ( 3 moms have responded )




My daughter was an "A" student in the second grade. She made high honor roll yet again, but luckily for us, her teacher noticed a problem in the classroom. She was struggling to consentrate. She wasn't able to finish her classwork. She seemed to be day dreaming most of the time. She suggested that we have her tested by a child phycologist.

First I stayed in the classroom to watch what was happening. For the first thirty minutes she was supposed to write in her journal. Copying one paragraph off the board and then create 1 or 2 more on her own. She was all over the board. If there was any kind of noise, she would turn and watch. She would try to get back to writing, but just couldn't. Feeling the pressure that the other students were finishing, she would almost breakdown. During the day, if she didn't get her classwork finished she just started stuffing it into her desk, or just turning it in unfinished.

We realized that we did need to do something. When she was "one on one" she did great, but just could not keep up with the classroom environment. So I called a child phycologist and set up the testing appointment.

WOW...what I learned about my child. She was absolutely brilliant. She scored extremely high in an IQ test. But as the testing continued, her problems became apparent. She was a visual spatial learner. I wasn't even sure what a visual spatial learner was, but soon I was diving head first into the world of knowledge. Taking in everything I could to learn how my child saw and dealt with the world around her.

VSL see their world in pictures, even 3-D pictures. They ask lots of questions and think out of the box. They need to know what is the big picture! They tend to learn all at once and when they get the big picture, it's their AAH HA moment. They learn better visually than auditorally.

Unfortunatly for children who are VSL's, school mostly use the auditory sequential style of teaching, "Step by step, then shown the big picture", "follow verbal instructions", "sit and listen to a lecture". VSL's are hands on, out of the box, picture thinkers. If they can't follow what the teacher is trying to get across to them in the auditory sequential style, they feel lost, inadequate, even stupid. They get easily distracted and then just shut down. Appearing to the teacher as having attention problems or even worse ADD or ADHD.

Hopefully we can discuss what's going on at home and school. What is working and what is not. How to help our children realize their true potential. Most agree that VSL make the best engineer's, doctor's, artist's, and scientist's.


Jessica - posted on 03/02/2009




My son is in 5th grade. He was diagnosed by a child psycologist in 1st grade with ADD. My husband and I chose not to medicate because we decided to just take on a very proactive approach at home and with the teachers. In 3rd grade, he was placed into the gifted program through the school, in which they are incouraged to "think outside the box". It was then that they tested his learning style and told us that he was visual-spatial.

I didn't think too much of it at the time until his 5th grade year and we noticed his grades slipping. I started talking to a good friend of mine who specializes in gifted education. She told me that she didn't think my son had ADD at all, that he displayed all the charachteristics of a gifted, visual-spatial child. After reseaching into it more, I think he was misdiagnosed in 1st grade. I am so glad we didn't medicate!

Now, is the hard part of getting the school administration to understand that he is not lazy, or ADD, or just daydreaming. After all, he is in their gifted program. He was also placed in the DUKE Tip program this year for his high test scores on the standradized testing. Which is interesting because his report card grades do not reflect this. This just tells me that the traditional classroom setting is difficult for him. Another example, he was able to subtract fractions in his head and get all the answers right on his homework, but he couldn't show his work. Needless to say, he did not get full credit because of this. Grrr...so aggrevating!!

I am at a loss for how to help him or even where to start with the school at this point. He is so smart and I do not want it to harm his self-esteem. There seems to be good years and bad years, depending on the teacher. I would love to know what has worked for others!


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User - posted on 07/09/2012




My 6 year old son is just like this. He finds it very difficult to follow verbal instructions. He is also a visual spatial learner. The psychologist that did his psycho-ed evaluation thinks he may be ADHD, but our pediatrician is skeptical. She does not think he's ADHD, just a typical 6 year old boy.

At age 4 he would sit for the full hour it would take me to read a Magic Tree House book. From age 4- 4 1/2 we read over 40 Magic Tree House books - most 2 or 3 times. He would fully comprehend those books. Now he can sit for over an hour and read on his own. I don't think kids with ADHD can usually sit for such long periods of time and concentrate. I don't want to be in denial either. If he does in fact have ADHD I'd like to do some sort of behavior therapy for him.

In the classroom he does not pay attention well and has a hard time following through with tasks. His report cards to not reflect his abilities. The psychologist who did the psycho-ed said that he is "very intelligent" and has great skills. He scored above average or superior in all areas - except spelling and hand writing. Yet school continues to be a challenge for him. I think it because things are taught in a auditory- sequential way that does not work for the visual spatial learner. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Does anyone know what the best type of schools are for a visual spatial learner?

Colleen - posted on 11/12/2010




my 8yo daughter was displaying ADD-like behavior. I hadher evaluated by the public schools. She goes to catholic. Turns out.....she is a visual learner. learning what this means. Should I pull her from private for the public services? im afraid her bottom will fall out in 4th gr next yr. and self-esteem will take a big blow..any suggestions?

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