Many early sensory and motor experiences also support the development of our spatial awareness. This awareness supports our development globally – in relationships, social skills, academics, and self care to name a few. Michele Parkins has worked with developmental optometrists and is extensively trained in visual spatial development. Both structured and play-based activities are infused into treatment to strengthen this important foundational capacity.
Visual spatial development is rooted in the vestibular and visual systems. Movement of the eye muscles (ocular motor capacities) also impacts spatial development.
Evaluations in this program include eye movements, visual thinking and visual discrimination. The child’s vestibular ocular reflexes and eye movements are assessed first. This is commonly referred to as visual focus, scanning, tracking, convergence and divergence. The evaluation of the child’s capacity for visual thinking includes recognizing similarities, differences, and patterns; recalling information seen and then removed from sight or holding a mental image (used to “see” the letter one will write without looking at an image of the alphabet); and manipulating information presented visually, such knowing a letter “A” is a letter “A” even when it is upside down. Assessment of visual discrimination includes the ability to look for the relevant information in the environment and block out other information. This capacity is used to maintain focus on the teacher in a busy classroom, finding peers on a playground, finding objects needed on a shelf or in a messy room and finding information on a worksheet.
The child’s visual perceptual capacities will be placed and understood on a developmental hierarchy and activities will be designed to strengthen any developmental gaps observed.