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Gifted Visual Spatial Learners

"I just wish I had a projector on my head and you had a screen on yours and then you would understand what I am trying to tell you" (Adam aged 9, a gifted visual spatial learner).

Visual Spatial Learners

Many gifted children struggle in school because their intelligence is not recognised and neither is their unique learning style. These children are gifted visual spatial learners who have great ability in abstract random thinking coupled with marked weaknesses in auditory sequential information processing.

Visual -spatial learners think in pictures and they must visualise in order to learn. This means that there is a mismatch between their visual learning style and the auditory logical sequential way in which school material is usually presented to them.

They are frequently not identified as gifted. However, their high intelligence enables them to compensate for their weaknesses so well that their school based learning difficulty often goes undetected. In school these children often appear to be "average" students who could do better if only they would try harder, concentrate more and not be so distracted.

In over 500 gifted visual spatial learners that I have identified,there has always been at least one parent who shares this learning style with their child. I have also met many adult visual spatial learners who have dropped out of school believing that they were "dumb".


If the majority of the following characteristics are present in someone you know, it is probable that the child or adult is a visual spatial learner. However, this is not definitive and they should then be referred for formal identification.

  • A large amount of scatter on the sub-test scores of a formal IQ assessment
  • A history of any allergies, food intolerance, asthma, ear, nose and throat infections, tonsillitis, sinusitis
  • Inattentive and easily distracted
  • Poor short term memory/good long-term memory
  • Is very disorganised, has difficulty finishing tasks/school work
  • Likes complex ideas and tasks and does well on them yet often fails at simple things
  • Has a poor sense of time
  • Has extreme physical sensitivities eg noise, light, feeling
  • Does not maintain eye contact, often seems not to be listening
  • Has poor handwriting, difficulty keeping in the lines or grips the pen and presses very hard
  • Loves Lego, puzzles, jigsaws, computer games, television, making things
  • Likes art and/or music
  • Reads well silently but has difficulty with reading aloud
  • Has difficulty with spelling and/or times tables
  • Can remember the way somewhere after going there only once
  • Has a vivid imagination and/or disturbing dreams
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