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A question for mrz

(23 Posts)
Ineedtinsel Thu 02-Dec-10 11:47:35

Hi there I posted this on the special needs thread, I rarely venture off there but a kind person suggested that I ask you because you might be able to help.

Dd3 has been tested at school to decide what kind of a learner she is, apparently she is a visual learner, ok I get that bit... but then we get the report from OT which states that she is below average for visual perception.

I am probably being really dumb but wouldn't poor visual perception interfere with learning if you are a visual learner??

I have been told that coloured lenses might help and am looking into funding for these as the optician we used for Dd2's tracking difficulties only does them privately.

Hope someone has had experience with this because it is going round and round in my head.

Is there anything else I should be doing to help her??

mrz Thu 02-Dec-10 17:56:44

To be honest being a visual learner is pretty meaningless. You might be interested in this extract

Myth 2 - VAK - We are all either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners

No we are not! Certainly we acquire habits and temporary preferences, but the simplistic suggestion that you can somehow work out which of these three types of learner you are is fanciful and occasionally damaging. For if a learner mistakenly assumes that VAK is like a blood group, something that s/he is stuck with for life, then motivation to learn to play a musical instrument for example, may vanish if a low auditory score is 'measured'.

We all have individual learning styles

The science of learning styles seems to suggest that:

a) as a result of being individuals, we have different underlying personalities;

b) learning styles are not fixed

c) VAK is not a learning style but a way of describing data input

d) effective learners learn to be effective in a range of situations and using a range of different styles

e) some learning styles tests are unreliable

Children with visual perception problems may have -

* a poor sense of direction
* difficulties with organisational skills
* reverse words in both reading and spelling (eg. saw for was)
* difficulty understanding abstract maths concepts, paticularly in the areas of shape, space and measure
* problems with comparative language (eg. taller than, shorter than, longer than)
* difficulty completing jigsaw puzzles
* problems with copying from the board
* problems with interpreting and organising diagrams, charts, graphs, maps and other visual methods of recording
* difficulties judging speed and distance
* difficulty with letter and number orientation
* difficulty with structuring and organising written work
* strengths in logic, verbal and non-verbal reasoning
* enjoyment in using multisensory strategies when learning
* a preference for a phonic approach to learning to read
* a preference to use audio methods of recording information.

does this sound like your daughter?

Activities to develop visual perception skills:

Post-a-shape – matching shapes to the correct opening.
Feely bag – ask the pupils to describe a shape or object by feeling it without looking, then describe it again when they can see it.

What's missing? 2 – complete a picture.

Guess what? – guess the object when only part is visible. A picture of an object could be cut into four pieces and only one part given at a time until the child has guessed what it is.

Object/picture matching – using everyday objects.

Jigsaw puzzles – of varying degrees of difficulty to suit individual pupils.

Matching shape to silhouette – using the correct orientation.

Draw a person – copy the features of a real person, then compare.
Tessellation – arranging magnetic 2D shapes on a board.

Sensory maze activities – using a variety of materials.

PE activities – involving directional and positional language. Use symbols as a reminder.

Multi-link or threading bead pattern cards – and similar activities.

Instructions – follow auditory instructions while using a diagram or picture, to show how to build a model.

Noughts and crosses – using plastic or wooden pieces.

Brain gym type activities help to develop perceptual skills.

Rather than coloured lenses using coloured paper can be helpful and the school may put her work on pastel shades (a bit trial and error finding which is best) you can also purchase these I've just ordered some for school which do the same as coloured lenses much more cheaply.

I recently can across this site which looks promising

hope that helps but don't be overly concerned that she has been identified as a visual learner.

Has the OT made any suggestions?

Chaotica Thu 02-Dec-10 18:01:19

If it's any help, I have recently started using opaque coloured plastic folders to read through because of visual perception problems. (Also cheaper than glasses which can then be acquired if it provides some improvement.)


Ineedtinsel Thu 02-Dec-10 19:04:25

Wow mrz, I have just scanned your reply, I will read it all properly in a minute but I just wanted to say, yes some of the things do sound like Dd3.

School are not being helpful because they just keep saying everything is fine. She is one of the more able children in the class but there are many areas that she struggles with at home.

Her homework this week invovled copying out grids for each maths question, I am sorry to say I drew them for her because it was supposed to be maths homework but the drawing would have taken ages.

She has been in the assessment process for a possible asd for 18 months and the OT assessment was part of that. The report didn't contain any advice other than something about shoulder stability. I am didsapointed that they didn't include everything they said they would and am considering phoning them.

I will read your sugestions and carry on trying to help her the best I can

Thankyou for taking the time to helpgrin.

mrz Thu 02-Dec-10 19:20:43


Many muscles around the shoulder work together to hold this joint stable. When writing, we use very slow, well controlled shoulder movements. If a child has poor shoulder stability, then s/he cannot hold this joint stable. If this joint is loose, then fine motor control needed for writing is impossible to achieve. Clearly, writing skills suffer.

A child has problems with shoulder stability if s/he cannot hold her/himself in a hands and knees position or locks the elbow joint in this position. S/He may brace her/his arm against her/his side when engaged in a fine motor activity.

Try these activities to improve shoulder stability:

1 Stand at a vertical surface such as a chalkboard to write, draw or color on paper positioned on a vertical surface (such as standing at the chalkboard).

2 Encourage child to play with games in the quadruped (hands and knees) position. Try setting up dominoes or play Jenga.

Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm and shoulder muscles.

The joints of the body need to be stable before the hands can be free to focus on specific skilled fine motor tasks.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, and wall push-ups.
Toys: Orbiter, silly putty, and monkey bars on the playground.

Ocular Motor Control
This refers to the ability of the eyes to work together to follow and hold an object in the line of vision as needed.
Use a flashlight against the ceiling. Have the child lie on his/her back or tummy and visually follow the moving light from left to right, to bottom, and diagonally.
Find hidden pictures in books. (There are special books for this.)
Maze activities.

Eye-hand Coordination
This involves accuracy in placement, direction, and spatial awareness.
Throw bean bags/kooshi balls into a hula hoop placed flat on the floor. Gradually increase the distance.
Play throw and catch with a ball . Start with a large ball and work toward a smaller ball. (Kooshi balls are easier to catch than a tennis ball.)
Practice hitting bowling pins with a ball. (You can purchase these games or make your own with pop bottles and a small ball.)
Play "Hit the Balloon" with a medium-sized balloon.

Ineedtinsel Thu 02-Dec-10 19:46:18

"A child has problems with shoulder stability if s/he cannot hold her/himself in a hands and knees position or locks the elbow joint in this position. S/He may brace her/his arm against her/his side when engaged in a fine motor activity."

This is Dd3! She also has hypermobile elbows and some other joints.

You have given me so many ideas, I am so happygrin.

She has 3 weeks holiday at xmas so I will get prepared and start to introduce some of the activities then.


maizieD Fri 03-Dec-10 00:14:06


It's not on your list but would you also say that learning to decode & blend all through words, from L to R, is a good way to help improve eye tracking skills?

I am always awed by your in depth knowledge! Super SENCo! smile

mrz Fri 03-Dec-10 08:03:20

Thanks maizie grin

I agree it is good exercise but often with young children that is where the difficulty is recognised first so they need lots of work before they reach the point they are able to read (and write) words left to right.

I will see if I have anything else to help in school and add it tonight.

Middlemarch85 Fri 03-Dec-10 10:11:58

Sorry to interruptbut I have been going through a similar experience, I Need Tinsel. I thought i would share my experience and ask a question of MRZ if she doesn't mind.

I am a little further on than you INeedTinsel. My yr 4 daughter has just been diagnosed with a visual processing deficit. She struggled to read and write in year 1 in her school overseas. Special Needs advice can be hard to get overseas and is not often well funded. Her teachers couldn't quite put their finger on her problem and she didn't quite fit any SpLd profile. I found an OT for writing help during yr 2 and we attended a spelling class together. She achieved level 3 reading, 2a Science, 2b writing and 2c maths at KS1, after a hard year's work with a very experienced class teacher, after not even reaching level one at the end of yr 1.

A relocation to a new country last Spring didn't help but the school has just had her thoroughly tested in school time (at our expense) by a visiting ed psych over the course of a week. Unfortunately this is expensive - 1000 pounds.

Her visual processing speed is found to be on 34th centile but her visual memory on 99.8th, thus masking problems. Her reading is now on 93rd centile and spelling on 97th - due I think to her memory. She also struggles to put her ideas on paper coherently and has trouble proof reading.(ie, she doesn't)

Maths is a different matter though and she is struggling and I am struggling to help her.

The diagnosis is a huge relief to me and we are awaiting a full report with recommendations for strategies to help her. It is so nice to have some understanding of her learning style and to think that we might have some idea how to address her problems. I will take her to a behavioural optometrist too.

The Dyslexia Research Trust at Oxford University might help with testing a a lower or waived cost in cases of need. (They usually ask for a donation of 200 pounds. It might be worth asking Dr Sue Fowler at the Trust. They struggle for funding though. They saw my daughter when she was 6 but warned that she was too young for proper testing. They found no obvious problems then except possible working memory/recall and fine motor skills problem.

My question for Mrz is, what do you think the outcome might be for children like this? Might they able to function adequately at a good academic level at Key Stage 4 or do they fall further behind? She is my youngest by quite a few years, so I have some flexibility of choice. Should I be looking at bringing her home at some stage and looking for a school that provides specialist help to help her achieve as best she can? I am trying to find a Maths tutor so that her learning is reinforced but I don't know what would be best or whether any school can do better for her than her current one, which seeems to have the will to be very supportive so long as it turns out that it has the resources.

Middlemarch85 Fri 03-Dec-10 10:21:10


My daughter had just that problem and I used Toe by Toe during the Summer after year 1 which helped fix it. I don't think her young yr one teacher had picked the exact problem up.


You are obviously exploring all avenues and I know how frustrating it can feel. Good luck. I hope you get the support your child needs.

maizieD Fri 03-Dec-10 11:12:36


I'm interested that you think Toe by Toe helped to improve tracking - I never really think of it as a good programme for teaching all through the word decoding. I think that learning 'chunks' of words is not conducive to decoding straight through a word. However, it must depend to a certain extent on the expertise/knowledge of the person using it. Did you use it alongside an emphasis on left to reight decoding?

I appreciate what mrz says about tracking and (very?) young children needing work before they are able to read words, but I just thought it was worth mentioning as many people do not realise that left to right tracking (needed for reading English) is a learnt skill which includes training the eye muscles. And, of course, reading is as good a way of strengthening the tracking muscles as any other!

Poor tracking skills/weak tracking muscles can explain all sorts of behaviours observed during reading, such as fidgetiness, eye rubbing, headaches, tiredness (exhaustion, even. I had one child who was literally panting by the time he'd finished reading a sentence!), reading words back to front and words apparently moving on the page (it's the eyes that are moving, not the words).

I am not saying that this is the only cause of these behaviours, just that it is a possible factor to be aware of.

Middlemarch85 Fri 03-Dec-10 11:47:09

Maizie - Thanks for your information. Maybe I am wrong about her tracking, maybe she had other issues aswell or instead. She used to read words backwards or grab at a sound/letter she knew - not always the first letter of the word - and guess a word or miss words and lines. Her school overseas was lovely but it was in a relatively undeveloped country and the SEN expertise I needed was just not available inside or outside school so I was keen to try anything I read or heard about. We are in Europe now so there are more and better practitioners around and better information and more support and expertise in school.

Toe by Toe seemed to me to help her reading (well up to p 70 as it got too hard for her at 6 yrs old after that and we stopped because she hated it).

She is an enthusiastic little thing and has two much older sisters who are academic so she knows she is not able to do things as well. It's hard to watch so I admit to trying to find a magic wand to "fix" things. It is still difficult to get help though and as a parent I feel I have had to be so proactive. I see from these forums that this is so often the case and it is such a shame but so nice to read advice from people like you and Mrz as I felt no one really seemed to observe her closely in the way you describe your pupil above and I couldn't seem to find well informed help.

Ineedtinsel Fri 03-Dec-10 12:53:10

It is interesting to read about tracking issues because Dd2 struggled with this and used coloured lenses and excerises to improve it , her reading is now relativly good although she never chooses to pick up a book.

Dd3 who has been found to have visual processing issues ie the 23rd percentile has no reading issues,[in fact reads for pleasure] she self taught at around 3.5 and was able to recognise family names and certain shops well before that.

She is being assessed for a possible ASD but I would certainly not think of her as having reading issues. She can decode any text even if she doesn't always understand what she is reading. She struggles with inference but I believe that is due to poor theory of mind.

Each time she has an assesment it seems to throw up another kind of borderline difficulty and now I am feeling totally overwhelmed.

We are currently awaiting an appointment at CAMHS but in the meantime we are left to flounder and battle with school who "don't see" any of her issues.

Thanx again for all the ideas they are really helpful and will keep us busy while we wait.

Ineedtinsel Fri 03-Dec-10 13:01:20

OMG... have just phoned CAMHS to find out how long we will have to wait and Dd3 has an appointement for the 20th of December...this yeargrin.

Fingers crossed they can give us some insight into what is going onhmm.

Middlemarch85 Fri 03-Dec-10 13:04:41

I would be interested to hear how you get on. Good luck.

Ineedtinsel Fri 03-Dec-10 14:47:00

Take a look on the special needs thread. I usually post on there and I am sure I will after the

Ineedtinsel Fri 03-Dec-10 14:48:48

Sorry should have said special needs, children topic not

mrz Fri 03-Dec-10 17:28:24

The following activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent switching hands at midline.

Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.

Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.

When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

General Activities

* Double drums or bongos: challenge your child to bang the right drum with the left hand and the left drum with the right hand.
* Push toy trucks and cars while crawling on the floor along a path made with tape; create lots of turns and waves
* Floor play: when playing on the floor, encourage your child to lean on one hand or elbow. Place the toys or games on the side being
leaned on. This forces the child to cross the middle when playing.
* Play sorting games: place objects to sort on the left side and containers to place them in on the right side: sort coins, cars vs. trucks,
pompoms, marbles, bingo chips, etc.
* Scoop sand into a bucket using one hand to hold the bucket and the other to scoop and reach across
* Play flash light tag in a darkened room on the ceiling and walls while lying on your back; be sure to hold the flashlight in the same hand
* Steering wheel (found in many playgrounds): encouraging using the same hand to turn the wheel all the way around
* Alternating hand-over-hand activities such as pulling along a rope while on a scooterboard
* Make figure 8's and other motions with streamers; one hand at a time and crossing left and right
* With a group of friends, play circle games to music while sitting crossed legged on the floor, such as passing a balloon or ball, toy, etc.
* Play body awareness games like the Hokey Pokey and Simon Says

mrz Fri 03-Dec-10 17:34:48

I think many children work extremely hard and are able to "function" (succeed) to the extent they effectively mask their difficulties. If specialist help is an option I would think it is something well worth investigating not because I feel she would automatically fail without it but because it would make her life less of a struggle. Her current school may well be able to meet her needs given expert input in how best to support her.

Ineedtinsel Fri 03-Dec-10 19:46:09

Yes she does work extremly hard at masking her difficulties, to the extent that the school are unable to see them. However this is such hard work for her that she is exhausted every day both physically and emotionally.

Things have been a little better for her since I threw my dummy and insisted that all members of staff should be made aware of her difficulties.

What do you mean by specialist help??

She has so far been seen by,
A General Paed,
2 community Paeds,
A SALT and

We have a CAHMS appointment this month.

All the people who have seen her are in agreement that there is something about her but they either cannot put their finger on it, want to wait and see how it develops or refer her to someone else!!

She is 8 now and in year 3, I am beginning to wonder how long she should wait.
Without a Dx her current school are as far as they are concerned meeting her needs!!

Thanx again for all your advice there is loads for us to be working

mrz Fri 03-Dec-10 19:57:04

Sorry Ineedtinsel that part was for Middlemarch,

I think the best thing for your daughter is to do some of the fun activities (which should help) while waiting for CAMHS findings re ASD diagnosis. The school should IMHO also involve an Education Psychologist to further investigate how best she can be supported in school.

Ineedtinsel Fri 03-Dec-10 20:02:47

LOl mrz... you are right, fun activities are what she needs!! I think maybe a couple of home days per half term would probably be a good idea too. I find it hard to keep her off though as I worry that I won't get her back.

Middlemarch85 Sat 04-Dec-10 09:03:45

Thank you Mrz

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