"When conditions are good, babies learn spatial awareness with no special assistance." But even with good conditions some children have difficulty with spatial awareness. I knew that one of my 4th graders might have a spatial issue when at least one of these problems showed up:
- A child would often head the wrong way out of the classroom to go to PE and lunch, even after several months of school.
- A child might not know how many stories we had in our two-story school. One child guessed that there were five floors since "We go upstairs all the time." He appeared unaware of the times the class went down the stairs.
- A child would have difficulty finding pages in a book. A request to turn to page 58 would have him slowly starting at page 60 page and moving forward turning pages. When asked "Is 58 less than 60?" the child could state that it was, but continue to go forward.
- A child's handwriting was cramped and intermittently floated below and above the line.
- A child might consistently have the correct letters in a word but write them in incorrect order. For example: a child who only had dyslexia might write sed for said. A child with a spatial problem might write asid or esd for the word said.
Spatial problems can affect many areas in a child's academic life. A child with spatial problems may have:
- Difficulty following directions - especially those involving words such as beneath, behind, right, left, etc.
- Difficulty with handwriting - holding a pencil too tightly, constantly pushing too hard and breaking the point, writing above or below the line, or incorrectly spacing letters and words.
- Difficulty reading and spelling - a child with dyslexia has problems with sound symbol recognition. Add a spatial problem and that child may have additional problems with order of letters or remembering to read left to right.
- Difficulty in math - keeping numbers lined up, remembering to work right to left on addition and subtraction, understanding area, perimeter, or other geometric terms
- Difficulty with other children - always stepping on heels in a line, forgetting which way to run in a game, difficulty with directions when playing a new group game
- We tend to think of these children as klutzes, but some of them are excellent athletes. It is the fine motor skills that may create difficulty for this athlete.
- Some of these children have problems with math, and some of them are very good with math.
- Spatial skills include visual perceptual abilities such as visual discrimination, visual memory, spatial relationships, form constancy, sequential memory, visual figure-group and visual closure.
- A child might have mild to severe spatial awareness problems in the areas listed above. Severe problems may indicate developmental coordination disorder.
- There are some studies that found being tired may have an effect on our spatial awareness of things on our left side. Attention deficit seems to exacerbate the problem.
- Parents can help a child become aware of space words: up, down, right, left, near, far, etc. They can give visual clues with directions.