Gifted Visual-Spatial Learners are Twice-Neglected


Traditional School is a Hostile Learning Environment for Gifted Visual-Spatial Learners 

Just as gifted individuals often discover that their giftedness feels like both a gift and a curse, those who are both gifted and a visual-spatial learner experience a double whammy. The vast majority of traditional classroom settings deliver instruction via a linear, auditory and sequential method. Visual-spatial learners struggle to understand instruction and master concepts delivered to them in that linear, auditory and sequential manner seen in nearly every classroom because it is quite the opposite of the way they need to learn–through a visual approach.

Visual-spatial learners are holistic learners who grasp the larger idea when introduced to a new concept or skill, and learn best when information is delivered through more visual methods. For a visual-spatial learner, learning through a step-by-step approach (sequential) when delivered verbally (auditory) as in nearly all classroom settings is like teaching a lion how to become a vegetarian. Strong visual-spatial learners struggle in the traditional classroom setting when differentiation and attention to their learning needs are not provided. Visual-spatial is not a learning preference, but a innate learning process that needs to be recognized and accommodated in the classroom. Although some visual-spatial learners can also succeed in an auditory-sequential classroom, those who have weak auditory-sequential skills will fail to learn and thrive.

Research has proven many connections between gifted individuals and strong visual-spatial strengths. A large percentage of gifted individuals are visual-spatial learners. Our visual-spatial learners are creative, artistic, and can quickly synthesize facts into the visualization of the larger picture–they can see the bigger idea.

 

Some famous visual-spatial thinkers who also struggled in an auditory-sequential environment are Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright and Thomas Edison. One could easily assume that present-day creative geniuses like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are also strong visual-spatial thinkers. Didn’t they all drop out of school at some point?

Our world today needs these creative geniuses, but sadly many underachieve in school due to their inability to learn through auditory sequential methods, and eventually they may drop out. Many gifted visual-spatial learners are never identified as gifted because too many regular education teachers may equate only successful academic performance with giftedness. Teachers need to be educated and trained to recognize the unique characteristics and learning needs of our gifted children, especially our gifted visual-spatial learners. We are disregarding too many of these creative geniuses who will struggle to fulfill their potential because our educational system most often does not recognize or understand these diamonds in the rough.

For the parents of a gifted visual-spatial learner who is underachieving in school, being a strong and determined advocate for your child is critical. Without parental support and advocacy, the typical school setting can be a hostile learning environment fraught with traumatic experiences that can destroy your gifted VSL child’s self-esteem, motivation and love of learning.

Homeschooling is an excellent educational option for strong, visual-spatial gifted learners who otherwise would flounder in the typical auditory-sequential classroom setting. Homeschooling provides the perfect opportunity for visual-spatial learners to learn in an optimal environment that easily meets their unique visual-spatial learning needs.

Through my experience as an advocate for gifted children, I’ve seen first hand how terribly our public school system is underserving and neglecting our gifted children; sadly, our gifted visual-spatial children are twice-neglected.

For more information, resources and how-to’s on homeschooling your gifted child, check out my book, Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling.

50 Comments on “Gifted Visual-Spatial Learners are Twice-Neglected

  1. This is a wonderful site I found while doing research for my book on How, What and Why an Artist Thinks.
    I agree with much of what is here and deeply regret most people (including parents and teachers) do not know what to do with children or adults who have these special abilities. This has made life quite painful at times. My brain has been carefully examined as part of a research project into creativity and I can assure you the artist brain is literally “Built” differently. If we are to benefit from these special people we are going to have to change many of our assumptions, particularly at home and in school. I do what I can to meet and speak to others about this.

    • Yes, “if we are to benefit from these special people we are going to have to change many of our assumptions, particularly at home and in school”–this is so true! Thank you for taking this to heart and going out to meet and speak to others about giftedness and talent!

  2. I have a Visual Spatial son. Coming to a new school the teachers reported about behavior issues. I could not understand because in his two schools before there were never any issues. I did a WISC-V Test. Like prescribed in literacy he displayed variations. Scored very high in Spatial Visual Ability, same for Working Memory and also in Similarities. Overall all all his scores were above age to superior. He does not have an auditory processing problem but if you compare all the high numbers in non-verbal to the verbal comprehension skills, verbal is relative weakness. Furthermore he speaks many languages what has an impact on the verbal numbers on WISC-V. I am so proud about my son because I see his beautiful mind, but we all have to be our childrens advocate to make sure, they get appreciated and the environment they need. I find this Thesis very interesting for all people with Spatial Visual Children, hopefully more people educate themselves. http://mro.massey.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10179/5758/02_whole.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y

  3. I’ve just found this site and have been reading for hours, I should be in bed LOL. I have 7 beautiful and healthy children. Two are classified as 2e, both boys, the 11 year old is on the autism spectrum and has a specific learning disorder of written expression, he is however gifted in math, science and verbal reasoning. The 10 year old has adhd and dyslexia and is a vsl, I can’t remember his scores but I know his visual spacial reasoning was in the exceptionally high range, we have not medicated him for adhd, as we were advised to,because we want him to develop strategies to focus by himself without a crutch, his behaviour is not an issue, so nobody is hounding us to drug him up. I suspect that my 13 year old daughter and 6 year old son are also 2e with them both probably being similar to my 10 year old but haven’t had them tested yet and my 3 year old daughter is also showing similar abilities to my vsl children. The most frustrating thing I am having to deal with is the schools lack of interest in my 10 year old boy. He’s a serial underachiever, a B student, who is perfectly happy to remain as such. I’ve heard all the usual things, he’s lazy, he needs to try harder and even, he’s average to above average while they had his test scores in front of them. The school said he can’t be dyslexic because he can read. They tested him themselves at one grade level ahead and of course he got a perfect score. What they failed to acknowledge is that he had scored 5 grade levels ahead on his standardized tests in reading. I tried to explain that he reads everything as a sight word and if he doesn’t know the word he skips it and works it out with the context of the sentence, I received blank stares. His isolated word reading was at benchmark for his grade as was his ability to apply his phonics. Here’s where I get mad, seriously, he reads 5 grade levels ahead but can’t see the difference between the words tough and through, I mean massive red flags are waving at me, but the school has dismissed it. They will not admit him to the TAG program because he consistently misses the score on one standardized test by 4-5%. They then say they’ll consider him but because his teachers won’t recommend him because of his lack of effort he is excluded. The TAG program in this school is aimed at high achievers, which he is not, yet his teachers have noted that every now and then he’ll say or do something that’s just brilliant. Sorry for the rant, but I’m still going. My 13 year old and 11 year old are both in the TAG program because they were grandfathered in when we moved school districts but I was told they were in danger of being removed from it because their test scores were not adequate. They didn’t end up excluding my 11 year old with asd because I think they felt I’d kick up a fuss, and they do not have a junior high program so my daughter doesn’t have to worry about getting removed from it. What frustrates me the most is that only the high achievers are eligible for the TAG program here, it really doesn’t matter if you are truly gifted or not. My 9 year old daughter is a workhorse in school, she is a high achiever in every part of her life. She works hard and does extremely well, she is a smart girl but she is not gifted in the way that some of her siblings are, I am terribly proud of her work ethic and achievements . She was accepted into the TAG program this past year, her scores were great and her teacher recommended her, the same teacher that refused to recommend my son the previous year. I congratulated her and told her how proud I was, but my heart was heavy, I was so angry for my son, I actually cried for him, as I hid in my bedroom. The only thing valued in this school and I know in many others are the cold test scores. It doesn’t matter that my 10 year old boy can do the most amazing math in his head, or that he can build circuits, or that he can spell complex words by reading them off a sheet of paper in his head, because he can barely spell the word cat, when he tries sounding it out. He’s a wonderful artist, he likes to do clay models, he’s also a talented runner and can sing like a bird. The artistic abilities, singing and athletic prowess are all congratulated and acknowledged by his teachers, of course. Our school district is very small, his intellectual abilities far exceed all but possibly one child in his grade, but no one but me and his dad could care less. I know the school knows what he’s capable of but they just don’t want to bother with him because his needs are too much trouble. He’s floating happily along in a sea of mediocrity, bored out of his mind and totally understimulated, at least he’s happy I suppose, but I know his feeling get hurt when his teachers reprimand him for working problems his own way instead of using their method, even though his way may be quicker. Instead of looking at his problem solving abilities and saying “goodjob” or “that’s interesting” he has been yelled at, and made to feel ashamed and humiliated. It hurts his feelings and makes him angry. Oh how frustrating it must be to be him. I also feel like a fraud talking about him as a gifted child because he doesn’t fit the mould that the school sets out as the “gifted” child. Sorry for the lengthy post but I have no one to speak to about this who understands. Oh, by the way, I only mentioned 6 of my 7 children, my 8 year old daughter is an above average, hard working student who does well in most subjects and excels at reading, she will do well in school but she is not in the gifted range, ( that probably guarantees her a spot in the TAG program LOL)

    • Oh Catherine,

      There is just so much I want to say. I read your comment while nodding my head in agreement and also shedding a few tears because I know EXACTLY how you feel when your gifted child doesn’t meet the high-achieving bar schools set which should not exist in the first place. I get it–as the saying goes, been there, done that. Sadly.

      Did you read my article, “Giftedness is More Than a Function of Education”? Not all, in fact many gifted children do not meet the standards set by schools for their gifted programs. Nearly all public school gifted programs are not really for gifted children, but for high-achieving kids–but you probably knew this out already.

      Yes, there are so many things I want to say to you because I get it, but the most important thing you can do is read all you can about giftedness–the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum website is a good place to start. And then advocate. Fight for your children’s right to be in the TAG program. They need the challenge; without the challenge, gifted children become underachievers.

      Also, there are many groups for parents of gifted children on Facebook. One really good one is Raising Poppies. You can get all the support you need there.

      If you need anything else, let me know, Catherine!

      • Thanks so much for the reply. School starts soon, I know my son’s teacher quite well, we’ve had her before, she knows what type of children come out of our house. I’m going to speak with her about him, hopefully I’ll get further than I did with his teacher last year. I can only hope. Meanwhile I’ll continue reading and reading. It’s hard to advocate for a child when you’re not sure what he needs.I try to keep on top of everything that’s going on in school with my kids, sometimes I might seem overzealous but I just don’t want any of them falling between the cracks.

        • I know, Catherine, and they can so easily fall between the cracks because teachers are more overworked than ever before. Your children are so lucky to have you as their mom! You’ve got this!

    • Catherine, just a quick note to say wow, what an amazing mum you are! With a mum like you your kids will do great in life and contribute to the greater good whatever that might be.
      Follow your heart
      S 🙂

  4. I guess I am one of those. I might have underachieved in class but fortunately getting the stuff into my brain at home helped me a lot! Now im studying, being in my second masters course and i now realize why i just cant get the stuff tought in uni. Either one speaks directly from the heart or i need a laser beam focus to get any of the things tought. I failed in R class because I learned from the videos provided by the lecturer. I have watched some thrice and still couldnt get the content. Yet innately i know i’m not dumb, likely smarter than others who easily passed the tests. But oh my, now having this knowledge i don’t know yet how to proceed….

    • Vera, visual-spatial ability is a complex ability. It has so many upsides and so often considered a talent, a gift. It just doesn’t help when education is delivered in the traditional auditory-sequential way and then seems to become a learning hindrance.

      Sounds like you are succeeding despite being a visual-spatial learner!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Vera!

  5. I am delighted to see that more individuals are finding new approaches to further the development of the visual-spatial intelligence.

    Growing up, I struggled with the average classroom setting. Teachers became frustrated due to my constant questioning and need for explaination on their curriculum.

    Ultimately, I gave up. I began to criticize the education system, labeled the teachers as “bad” and “unable to teach properly”. Next thing you know, I was labeled as a child with a behavioral dissorder.

    A social worker, who actually listened to my stories and understood multiple intelligences, took immediate notice. It was then I was tested on my visual-spatial intelligence.

    One of the tests conducted consisted of 8-16 blocks with red and white shapes and lines. They provided an abstract picture with the objective of creating that picture with the blocks just by turning them in place, not moving a block to another spot. I completed the puzzles, averaging approximately 1 block per second.

    The gentleman conducting the test stated, “In 25 years of conducting this test, I have never seen anyone do what she just did…” to my parents, school staff and myself.

    Sadly, by the time it was discovered, I was already a junior in High School. It was too late. I had gone unnoticed and neglected for too long.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Visual-spatial ability is such a paradox. In our world today, many companies, especially tech and engineering-related firms, specifically seek out potential employees with advanced visual-spatial skills. But yet in schools, advanced visual-spatial skills are labeled a learning disability. We need to learn more about visual-spatial abilities and address them better in school.

      Two of my three sons are strongly visual-spatial and school was difficult because instruction in the classroom is given in the opposing manner–auditory-sequential. Unfortunately, there is not enough information yet to convince schools that visual-spatial students need accommodations and should be allowed to learn through their strength and not try to “fix” what is wrongly perceived as a problem.

      I certainly understand what you mean by it being too late because you had gone unnoticed and neglected for too long. I hope that you are now taking advantage of your visual-spatial ability because, despite the ignorance of our education system in regard to visual-spatial students, your potential for future success is significant due to your advanced visual-spatial ability!

      Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to write and share with us your experience with being visual-spatial!

    • Tara,

      There are certain subtests on the WISC and other intelligence tests which can show a visual-spatial strength. As far as I know, there is no specific tests, but here is the website of Dr. Linda Silverman who was the pioneer in bringing visual-spatial abilities to light and contributed heavily to the body of knowledge about visual-spatial abilities. http://www.gifteddevelopment.com

      Also, one of the resources Dr. Silverman offers is this site dedicated to visual-spatial children: http://visualspatial.org

      Between both sites, you will find information, checklists and descriptions of a visual-spatial learner. There are a few other resources which provide information about visual-spatial abilities–do a web search using the term, visual spatial.

      Thank you, Tara!

  6. Hello, could I get your opinion on what I may be dealing with day to day (almost) with my son, 10 (almost 11).
    I don’t know where he is in terms of IQ as he has no FSIQ due to the big scatter. I was just told that he is bright. The issue is that he takes so so so much time doing his homework, showering and eating that I am forever calling and prompting him to hurry. It’s stressful on our relationship and it kills me inside to see him living his life away not having much time for his hobbies or even to just watch a bit of TV. I have asked my self if I should just let him skip all the homework and let him Persue his interests and develop his talents (which seems to be musically inclined) just that he doesn’t have much time to play the piano.

    He is very, easily distracted and does not seem to put in his efforts in his school work. Very sloppy writing and lagging in executive functioning, compared to his peers. I was told it could be a sign of him being passive aggressive but I don’t understand why he’d purposely waste his life away? Even enticing him with iPad time after his hw doesn’t work to speed him up. Only on occasionally he’ll zoom through his work to leave himself with time to play, and it can be fast when that actually does happen. At my wits end with him and don’t know what I should do about it.

    Verbal 116
    visual 132
    Fluid reasoning 121
    Memory 100
    Processing 141

    • Hi Cinnamon,

      Oh, your story sounds so familiar–almost in every detail! I’ve heard from many parents who have bright, intelligent and gifted children just like yours. There could be many things going on, but not all will be because your child has an issue.

      Every child is different and every gifted child is different–some are further from what we think of as typical than others. But that is THEIR normal. Traditional school is a well-defined, often rigid system for learning–not all children will thrive in that system and this is through no fault of their own. Just as the vast majority of us grow up, get married and have children, not every adult is cut out for marriage and/or children. There is nothing wrong with them; they just don’t fit into the traditional roles the majority of society forms or expects. Too many children have been pathologized because they weren’t thriving in school. Yet, it may be helpful while guiding our children into their niche in life, we also help them see where it is also important to understand the pervasive social constructs they don’t quite fit into.

      That said, when I was in your shoes, I had to do a lot of research and learning on my own about my gifted children. I had to learn to also trust my gut instincts and understand that not all “experts” understandd giftedness. Also, IQ tests are not infallible. If you need a better understanding of your child’s intelligence, strengths and weaknesses, find a psychologist who has experience working with gifted children.

      Here is a link to a list of recommended professionals from SENG: http://sengifted.org/resources/recognized-professionals

      Also, here are links to two gifted parent forums. I found that other parents have been invaluable for answering my questions and validating my concerns: Gifted Homeschoolers Forum – http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/online-community/ and Davidson Gifted Issues Discussion Forum – http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/

      I would also start my research here at the Gifted Development Center – http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/resources/visual-spatial-resource And also at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page – http://www.hoagiesgifted.org

      Poke around on all four of the above sites I’ve linked. They have tons of information! But the one thing I do want you to know is that you are not alone–there are many of us parents who have traveled the same road you find yourself on! Yup, it can be frustrating and maddening and crazy and exhilarating–all at the same time!

      Keep in touch and let us know how things are going!

      • Thanks you so much for your valuable reply Celi. I appreciate that you even shared several links with me that I can read and hopefully understand more.

        I am enjoying your blog and articles more and more as I have 3 children of different stages. Just read the post about teaching children to read. I am sure this will be useful for my 3rd child soon 😘

  7. Our story is similar, albeit a little different. At a young age, my son was diagnosed with a language processing disorder and ADD. His executive functioning skills are very behind. He has an IEP for school, accommodations, etc. He works hard with support from us and a tutor to maintain Bs and a few As. He does not pick up a lot of what he hears in the classroom. He is in advanced math and is a rock star at chess. As a kid, no “pretend play”, but great at building legos, puzzles, etc. For his spatial IQ he tested at 140. When you add in the verbal component of the IQ test he is barely average. He has had extensive testing and not deemed to be “on the spectrum” but has a big communication delay. He has trouble processing in the classroom and explaining what he knows. We keep looking for ways to help him in school, but since is he now 14 (8th grade) I am focused on trying to find supplemental ways to get him into more spatial-related activities in HS next year, If anyone has any ideas let me know!

    • Hi Valeri,

      Visual spatial ability is a new body of knowledge. The very best resources are the Gifted Development Center and Visual-Spatial Resource.

      It sometimes seems a long, uphill journey, but finding more spatial-related activities is a great solution. Have you tried the FIRST robotics teams? Great organization and a good place for visual-spatials!

      Good luck Valeri and keep us updated on how everything is going!

      • Thank you so very much for these recommendations. We just had a full eval done and the dr is now certain he is in the top 1.2% on visual spacial acuity. And has massive delays with executive functioning and language processing. So we have a lot to work on with the school, but I am hoping we can find things to interest him in what you suggested. Best regards, V

        • Valeri, thank you for sharing this. And best of luck working with the school–hopefully working together with the school will change the game for your son! Keep us posted!

  8. My 15 yo daughter is a visual spatial learner. During her 7th grade year in public school, she was tested and found to meet the criterial for “educational autism”, and given an IEP (Individual education program). A year later, I was seeing no academic improvement, but I was seeing a very unhappy child. I went back and looked at the test scores (low verbal and processing and over the top non verbal). I started doing my own research and discovered an article discussing Linda Silverman and VSLs. Reading the description of a VSL, I felt like they were writing about my child. After several frustrating attempts to get help through the system, my husband and I decided to homeschool. Although we have had some successes (like using Life of Fred for math), it is hard to find decent guidance for teaching a teenager, whose love of learning was pretty much wiped out by a public school system that did not honor how she learns.

    • I’m so sorry, Connie. I know exactly what you are going through–our story is the same. Visual-spatial ability is such a paradox. It is considered a learning disability in school, when recognized, but a valuable and sought-after talent in the work world where creativity is needed. You hit the nail on the head–schools can destroy the love of learning of children when they don’t honor how they learn!

      I’m sorry you all are going through this. Be strong, be patient and don’t lose faith 🙂

      • I’m trying😆

        AVisual Spacial learner Here.

        Memory Is all relative to the mental imagery I’m able

        to retain.

        Learning with words feels foreign no matter what

        language used.

        Feels like tunnel vision with a spotlight in your eyes,

        very uncomfortable and irritating.

        Double spacing and symbols would help us out

        immensely.

        Just beginning to see the patterns and I’m nearly 40.

        • Chas, such a intriguing description of what it feels like to be visual-spatial. Two of my sons have similar learning patterns. I wish more teachers and administrators understood visual-spatial thinking!

          Thanks for sharing, Chas!

  9. We recently had our 10-year old son tested with a full neuro-psych workup to determine why he is having issues with school when he is clearly bright, and he tested with a 152 IQ (on a 160 scale – no extended test) and as a very strong visual spatial learner. I have since devoured everything I can find online to figure out how best to help him and to get through to his school about what he needs. I am stunned at how little his “exclusive” private school knows about this and how unaccomodtaing they have been up to this point. I’m looking at a new school that was started for gifted kids and fingers crossed that it is a good match, because my son’s current school simply wants to put him in lower classes because he can’t get all of the information out of his brain fast enough for their standards. It’s heartbreaking to watch them quash his intellect (and crush his ego) at such an early age. I’ll go look up some of the above mentioned books now. Thanks for the info!

    • Yes, visual-spatial ability/disability seems to be a relatively new learning need and most schools know so little about it, although I know it can’t be a new “thing.”

      When we learned our youngest gifted teen was a VSL, we knew the scope of what his school should do for him, but they kept insisting on calling his visual-spatial ability a “preference” to make us understand they would do nothing to help him because it was a choice for him, not an inherent way of thinking and learning. I would say, “he is a visual-spatial learner and needs XYZ”, and they would always reply, “yes, he has a visual preference.” We pulled him out.

      You know that having a strong visual-spatial ability is considered a highly-desired talent–once a VSL becomes an adult. I hope everything turns out well for your little guy! Keep us updated!

  10. Pingback: Mengenal Gifted Visual Spatial Learner | Parents Support Group for Gifted Children JOGJA

  11. Interesting to read. My son was at a regular school here in the Netherlands and became very depressed, he wanted to die (8 yrs old). He felt unsafe, hardly any social contacts and he could not “show” what he knew. When we were told he was a visual-spatial learner and he had to learn techniques to survive in a normal school environment, we decided to try a democratic school. He is happy now, has friends, plays a lot and for example knows everything about acient Greek mythology at this moment and I cannot believe the speed he had to learn everything, but he could do it his own way, reading books, playing fantasy games about everything he read. It’s great to see and I love to read your posts, recognizing a lot. Homeschooling is hardly possible here in the Netherlands, so I am glad we live nearby a democratic school.

    • Jouke,

      Success stories are always so wonderful to hear. To have your son educated in a way that meets his needs and nurtures his love of learning is perfect for him and must be such a relief to you! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with your son; the more we all speak up about our children not receiving the education they need, the more we will all be heard. Many thanks!

  12. Just what level of intelligence does a child have in order to be considered gifted?

    • There’s the million dollar question. Everyone seems to have different opinions. When given the WPPSI my son scored a 147 on the Visual Spatial Index of the WPPSI-IV. However, his average Processing and only high average Verbal Index give him a Full Scale of only 121. According to the world (and us frankly as he does not phenotypically act gifted), he is not “gifted” in that sense of the word. Will he use his visual spatial skills to change the world like those mentioned above? Probably not. But we do know what lights his fire activity wise, and what hobbies and careers to steer him toward.

    • Cerian’s answer below is correct, but IQ tests alone don’t always tell the whole story. There are discrepancies among the different IQ tests and also among different editions & revisions of the same test. Many professionals use several different criteria and behavioral components to determine giftedness. Also, check out Dr. Deborah Ruf’s Levels of Giftedness: http://www.talentigniter.com/ruf-estimates

    • It’s interesting that you cite Deborah Ruf’s estimates on a post about those that excel on the Visual Spatial Index, as her estimates are *heavily* dominated by skills that would be found for high achievers on the Verbal Index.

    • I feel giftedness can be determined in different ways and by different measures.

      Some kids have stronger verbal skills and others have stronger visual-spatial skills. Although my post is about visual-spatial learners, the original question asked that I was responding to was what level of intelligence determines giftedness. My opinion is that there should be a variety of measures used, not just IQ tests, because not all gifted children have the same intellectual strengths. Ruf’s estimates uses behaviors that are heavy in the verbal areas, but not all. It is still a valid identification tool.

      Ironically, my son is, as an example, is a strong visual-spatial learner but still scores very high in verbal skills.

      My belief is that we can’t afford to not identify any gifted child, and we need to be thorough in our identification process using as many available identification tools as we can.

    • Forgive me, but I find this and your blog endlessly fascinating! I guess I wonder, if we can’t afford to not identify any gifted child, do we run the risk of false positives like my son using these qualitative measures like the “Ruf estimate”? He easily mastered about half of the “verbal” Level 3 traits and about half of the “verbal” Level 4 traits, but remember his Verbal Index was only high average. The “feel” would be an IQ between 130-135ish. We know this wasn’t the case from the above WPPSI, and another neuropsych at a later date confirmed the lower full scale IQ.

      Do we not run the risk of misidentifying these non-gifted students via these qualitative methods and placing them in classrooms with gifted students, thus creating the same situation we hope to avoid in the first place by looking for public schools with pull-out or exam based separate classrooms?

      • By the same token, the reverse can be true: The Ruf Estimates would suggest that my eldest child is highly gifted; he’s not, he’s mildly so. Whereas it would suggest my youngest isn’t gifted at all. He’s profoundly so.

    • Fascinating in a good way? lol

      Yes, of course, we do run the risk of misidentifying non-gifted students. We have several identification tools, but none are 100% accurate. Also, historically schools have done the testing and set the benchmark at which a child is considered gifted or not. And some school systems have different benchmarks. One child could be gifted in one school system but not in another. With gifted education a low priority in our schools, advocacy is needed to raise the level of focus on giftedness and subsequently on better tools to identify gifted children who may otherwise fall through the cracks.

      I do have to say that, as a teacher, I believe that a non-gifted student could very well benefit from the educational strategies used in gifted classrooms. Gifted specialists use some pretty cool educational classroom strategies that any child could learn from!

    • My 4.5 yo ceilinged the block design subtest of wppsi-iv (solved the final question in 1/3 of the allotted time), and we were told that his raw score was well beyond the scaled score of 19. He is identified as gifted, having high verbal index (98%) but low speed processing index. The FSIQ was 136, and I don’t know what it might be if he gets full credit for the score where he is in the extended norm, but what we are curious about is what to do with this extremely high VSI, and what it means. What we see in real life, is obsession to building with any building materials that involve logic and geometry (not found/natural objects), rapidly advancing with legos (working independently completing ~1000 pcs lego in 1-2 days), and really good understanding of mechanics. He also has very good picture memory, will run the board in memory games. He does not read yet.

      • I highly recommend Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child” by Alexandra Golon.
        It has similar information to Linda Silverman’s book, but not so technical. The author is a mother of two Visual Spatial boys, so it’s written with love and humor. Its easy to gain insight and ideas when you see your child in the stories she tells. I felt like every story she told was about my son. I have given this book to many people who I thought could use it.
        What I have learned. . . Always remember to start with the big picture or the end result first.
        Look into whole word approach to reading and avoid phonics (especially as delivered by public school) until after he/she is already reading. VSL should learn spelling rules separate from “reading”. There are also good tips for teaching spelling in the Golon book.
        VSL kids DO NOT need repetition to learn. don’t make them write spelling word, or do the same math facts over and over. It hurts them!
        And as for school . . . I agree that currently even a gifted program in a public school is not a good fit for a VSL child. To a school, gifted means good at school, and most programs only offer more homework as a reward for qualifying. Many parents I know seem happy with Montessori style preschools, or early elementary (hard to find in Montessori for upper grades). I can personally recommend Project Based Charter Schools for offering the flexibility and understanding that truly gifted kids need. They are free public schools and admission is always via lottery. My son can finally learn everything he wants to know about a subject before being forced to move on. The teachers have time to answer questions, or explain things one on one, and we have zero homework. Every charter school is different, so do your homework -pun intended, and make sure you like what you see. If there are no great Charter School options in your area, then homeschooling is also a blessing for gifted kids. The secret is that gifted kids are usually easy to homeschool. No matter how hard it is to get your child to do their traditional homework or participate in school, it’s irrelevant because homeschool is not like school. You know that you could teach your gifted kid in 20min what the school works on for a week. Right?
        If homeschool is not an option -advocate!

        • Oops! The book was “Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids – Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child” . The first part got cut off.

        • I agree – Thanks. My son is extremely visual-spatial and PG. We are lucky to be able to homeschool but he still hates reading and his spelling is horrible. I have noticed he gets very frustrated if he doesn’t understand the big picture before I explain something. I will have to read the book you recommended.

  13. The first place I went to for resources on teaching my visual-spatial learner was the website: The Gifted Development Center. The Director of the center is Dr. Linda Silverman who pioneered most of the information that we know about visual-spatial learners. There is a lot of information and resources for visual-spatial learners on the website. The web site is: http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/index.htm

    Books I have read:

    Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner by Linda Kreger Silverman

    Visual-Spatial Learners by Alexandra Golon

    Serving Visual-Spatial Learners: The Practical Strategies Series in Gifted Education (Practical Strategies in Gifted Education) by Steve Coxon

    I still struggle to find the best strategies and curriculum for my visual-spatial teen. I have encouraged him to, and now expect him to, become an equal and involved partner in his education by letting me know what strategies and curriculum works best for him. I turn to him to help me give him what works best.

    Thanks for your question and Good Luck!

  14. Do you have any suggestions on books and/or curriculums that talk about teaching these gifted visual/spatial learners? I am homeschooling my 10 yr old son, and he falls into this category. Teaching him can sometimes be a challenge.

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