Visual Spatial Orientation

This photo shows a boy building a scooter from over sized geometric shapes while kneeling on a flat swing and following directions shown on an iPad

A key factor for self care, handwriting and math

Although these basic shapes are made up of the same parts, the way in which each part is turned makes a world of difference to their  meanings and sounds of each letter. As children learn more about how objects can have different meanings depending upon how they are turned,  visual spatial orientation skills  help them learn how to form letters, words, and numbers. 

Visual Spatial Orientation is the knack of being aware of how objects are turned and how they fit together.  For example, in the home this skill helps children learn which hand fits into a glove, or which foot fits into a sneaker.  

This image shows a boy looking at his feet and a sneaker to see which foot will fit into the sneaker

Some of the  basic   notions of visual spatial orientation include mindfulness of size, shape, and how objects fit together.  These notions are important in developing stronger self care,  handwriting and math skills.

This is an image of the letters “d”, “b”, and “p” placed next to each other

Although these basic shapes are made up of the same parts, the way in which each part is turned makes a world of difference to their  meanings and sounds of each letter. As children learn more about how objects can have different meanings depending upon how they are turned,  visual spatial orientation skills  help them learn how to form letters, words, and numbers. 

Later on, in third through sixth grades, visual spatial orientation skills help children deal with math including fractions, equations, and basic expressions used in geometry.

This image shows two algebraic equations along with a triangle with letters indicating its’ sides. These three equations show how visual spatial orientation dominate higher math concepts.

By the time most children reach high school,  they are able to use mental skills to understand and picture for themselves how images relate and fit together. At this stage, they no longer require a library of manipulatives, but can mentally rotate and manage images independently.

When children have Sensory Processing Disorders however, they often have trouble realizing how objects should be turned in order to fit together. Children with SPD regularly  struggle with use of spatial terms to describe how objects are positioned and exactly where objects are located.  Therefore, because these skills ae not well developed,  handwriting and math skills tend to lag behind those of their peers.

This image shows a boy sitting on a flat swing as he builds a tower of blocks

When playing preschool games such as “hokey pokey”, words that include terms of  visual spatial orientation such as  “put your right hand in” are commonly used. 

photo of children playing Hokey Pokey in a military gym

Visual spatial orientation is a skill needed for success in social as well as academic areas of life. 

This image shows two algebraic equations that incorporate use of  superscript with letters positioned above the baseline of each equations

Words and phrases such as “under”, on top of”, or even “at the side of” are frequently used to describe how numbers and letter shapes can  placed and  grouped.  Letters that descend “below the line” as well as those that touch the “top of the line” incorporate use of visual spatial orientation.  Meanwhile math operations such as  multiplication, division, and even writing  fractions are based upon how numbers are arranged.

Appreciation of the  physical properties of objects is generally supported by use of manipulatives during early childhood and elementary school years.  This strategy helps children develop a  better understanding of the physical properties of objects. These features can then be translated into mental images, given names and labels, thereby  supporting the language base of visual spatial orientation skills. 

A girl sitting on the floor is building a Bucket Truck that lifts a repairman up above the street level
“on top of” – “above”
A boy is building a track with the layout in a figure 8
“on the side” – “middle”
A boy is building an circuit with snaps a  battery and  other parts that snap together
“align”, “vertical”, “horizontal”

Occupational Therapists work with parents and teachers to introduce concepts of visual spatial orientation to  children through use of specialized toys, manipulatives,  learning games, and equipment.  These concepts can then be more easily carried over into self care, handwriting, and math skills.

For further suggestions, check out the following:

 

One Response to “Visual Spatial Orientation”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *