Dear Jacqui, Please could you explain more about my 13 year old son’s visual spatial processing difficulties affecting his language and learning?

Often there are difficulties across a number of modalities which interact to make an unusual profile even though overall cognitive abilities are within the normal range. There may be borderline auditory spatial processing difficulties (that is not being able to selectively attend to sounds or a speaker from one direction and suppress sounds or speech coming from a different direction) affecting language processing of conversational flow i.e. listening to what a teacher is saying when there is background noise or someone else speaking at the same time. There may also be some sensory-based motor dyspraxia with aspects of sensory processing disorder affecting visual spatial processing (relating to organizing visual information into meaningful patterns and understanding how they might change as they rotate and move through space) and spatial language (words related to space i.e. between, middle, side, corner). This can further impact on visual spatial working memory.

This creates some difficulties with graphs, diagrams and the layout of information generally.  He might struggle to complete work that depends on spatial reasoning or the structuring of information.  He will probably spend additional time to work through the information and this overloads working memory, further compounded by stress.  A student may also think in different ways to what is expected so affecting inference and prediction.

It is best to have a full assessment and therapy programme to help remediate these difficulties.