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An Introduction to Visual Spatial Disorder

What is Visual Spatial processing?

This is the ability to tell where the objects are in relation to other objects or in each space. That may include our own body parts. This can also include understanding of distance, geometric measurement or reading a map or driving a car and navigating GPS.

We also have to keep in mind that most tasks we think of as primarily “visual spatial” require other visual processing too. For example, practicing dance moves from YouTube. What we see from the video is the visual-spatial processing but dancing in the same movement style which you have to remember in your mind and perform the same steps has a different visual processing involved in the task.

Importance of visual-spatial processing for everyday tasks:


Have you ever wondered why some children are good with real numbers while geometry seems to be challenging task for them?

Mathematics require visual-spatial processing skills. For example, to solve a problem like 9 + 6 = 15, a child must:

1. Perceive how numbers and symbols are placed in relation to each other on a page and how that placement matters when solving an equation ( this also involves visual-sequencing skills). For example, “ 5-3+2” has a different answer than “ 3-2+5”.

2. Be able to place numbers vertically so that the student can add or subtract multi-digit numbers.

3. Some forms of higher math, like trigonometry and calculus , require the ability to imagine an object rotating in space. This also requires visual-spatial processing skill.


Visual Spatial skills are required for reading as well. A child needs to know that certain shapes, like “w” and “m” and “6” and “9” can have different meanings on how they are rotated on the page. Similarly a student might have to remember the arrangement of letters on the page to form a word. For example “spot” and “pots”.

Sports and Other Physical Activities

From the very early years , visual-spatial processing begins with simple life skill activities like tying a shoe lace, catching a ball, playing table-tennis, basket-ball, badminton as well as activities such as taekwondo, karate, kung-fu and so on.

Even walking through a crowded space also requires this understanding to avoid bumping into anyone.

Navigating through Mazes and Reading Maps

Reading a map also requires the student or an adult to know where she or he is in relation to the starting point of the journey. Such difficulty might complicate life skills such as learning to drive, reading GPS and so on.

Watch this space for more on Visual Spatial introduction and what can help a child have better understanding of the same and overcome challenges through learning.

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