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|Does Your Child Have a Hidden Visual-Spatial Challenge?|
|News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition|
|Written by Ginny Grimsley|
|Monday, 24 June 2013 08:32|
Psychologist Shares 3 Therapeutic Activities
Most children learn in infancy that they can grab a familiar treat and put it in their mouth, and the good taste will make them happy. They use sight, smell, taste and touch to identify the treat, and movement to reach for it and to pop it in their mouth.
“It sounds like a simple accomplishment, but it represents a symphony of developmental milestones,” says Dr. Serena Wieder, clinical director of the non-profit Profectum Foundation (www.profectum.org) and co-author of “Visual/Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling and Movement,” a ground-breaking new guide to therapeutic strategies for students with learning and autism spectrum disorders.
“How we use our senses to figure out our relationship to the world around us is an essential -- and often overlooked – building block to learning,” she says. “In particular, visual-spatial knowledge – understanding where you are in space and where other things are relative to you – is essential to anything you want to do. When development of that knowledge is delayed, it has a domino effect on every other aspect of development.”
Children can be affected physically, socially, cognitively and – perhaps most important – emotionally. But their visual-spatial challenges are often hidden.
“We are motivated by emotion. The baby grabs the toy his mother is holding because he knows he’ll feel happy and will look at his mother smiling, both sharing this joyous moment. Imagine the frustration and anger a person might feel if he lacks the visual-spatial knowledge to know that he can reach for and grasp what he wants!” Wieder says.
Through years of clinical work, she and co-author Dr. Harry Wachs, O.D., a pioneer in visual cognitive therapy, developed hundreds of activities to help children improve their visual-spatial knowledge.
Here are three activities Wieder suggests for addressing a deficit that affects a child’s ability to understand which body parts to move in order to achieve a specific result, such as reaching for a toy or catching a ball. These “mental mapping” activities help a child understand the parts of his body and the way they relate to each other.
Once a child has a good mental map of her body parts, her next activities will help her understand their height, width and length in relation to the world around her, Wieder says. These activities will give her the visual-spatial knowledge necessary to initiate purposeful actions.
About Serena Wieder, Ph.D.
Psychologist Serena Wieder is clinical director of the non-profit Profectum Foundation, which is dedicated to the advancement of individuals with special needs through educational programs. She was co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, and she directed the DIR Institute. Her research has focused on diagnostic classification, emotional and symbolic development, and long-term follow-up of children treated with the DIR approach. Dr. Harry Wachs is a pioneer in visual cognitive therapy.
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