Helping children with dyslexia: Improving visual spatial relations

May 13, 2016 Published by

In this series from VisionWorks, we are exploring the visual difficulties often experienced by children with dyslexia. This time, we are looking at visual spatial relations and how to help your child develop this skill.

Visual spatial relations is the ability to distinguish differences among similar objects or forms, – for example, being able to determine that an object or part of the object is turned in a different direction than the others. This skill helps in understanding relationships and recognising underlying concepts.

This area of visual perception is closely related to the problem solving and conceptual skills required for higher level science and mathematics. Children with dyslexia often have poor spatial relations.


A person with visual spatial relation problems may have difficulty with:

  • planning actions in relation to objects around him/her
  • spatial concepts such as in, out, on, under, next to, up, down, in front of
  • differentiating between b, d, p, q
  • poor sight word vocabulary (words that are memorised as a whole by sight, so they can be automatically recognised)
  • reading charts, maps and diagrams
  • inconsistent symbol reversals and transposing numbers or letters
  • losing place on a page
  • finding something that is being looked for
  • attending to a task
  • remembering left and right
  • forgetting where to start reading

There are lots of activities that can help your child to improve their visual spatial relation skills:

  • Set out an obstacle course and help your child to navigate their way through it
  • Ask your child to copy 3-D block designs
  • Place plastic letters into a bag, and ask your child to identify the letter by feeling it
  • Write numbers or letters on a chalkboard incorrectly, then get your child to identify and correct each error

Article kindly contributed by Sarah Evans MMedSci, BSc(Hons)

Sarah is a consultant orthoptist working in Jersey and specialises in visual screening, diagnosis and management of visually related specific learning difficulties.


child reading by anthony kelly

Beginnng Obstacle Course_2437c by James Emery

Published: May 2016

Edited by: Anna Taylor

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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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