What is Visuospatial Processing and How Might it be Impacting My Child with ADHD?

As the parent of a teen who is struggling academically due to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you may be wondering: how can I best help my child? An often overlooked but vital factor in academic success, visuospatial processing plays an important role in your teenager’s ability to learn. In this article, we’ll explore what visuospatial processing is, how it can impact your teen’s learning. 

Visuospatial processing refers to an individual’s awareness and understanding of visual information in relation to spatial relationships. 

Visuospatial skills involve perceiving objects or people in space and interpreting images, diagrams, maps, and graphs. However, while these skills are often essential for many everyday activities, they play a major role in learning, specifically in general education classes such as mathematics, science, language arts, social studies, and art.

What it’s Essential For

Visuospatial processing affects numerous aspects of learning, including geometry, problem solving, reading maps and graphs, art and design, science, spatial organization, and note-taking. Without a strong grasp of these skills, students with ADHD struggle to understand classroom material and follow instructions. As a result, they risk performing poorly on tests, falling behind in class, or getting frustrated when dealing with complex tasks.

How it Can Impact Your Teen’s Ability To Learn

It goes without saying that a well-developed visuospatial skill set is necessary for both academic success and daily life. Not only does it enable teens to understand instruction more quickly and clearly, it also helps them comprehend complex material more easily. Let’s look at some of the commonly affected areas in which visuospatial processing has a significant influence.


Geometry relies heavily on understanding spatial relations between different points and shapes. Having difficulty visualizing angles, lines, circles, triangles, and other geometric figures and patterns impedes learning in this area. Students with poor visuospatial skills have trouble determining length, identifying similar shapes, and visualizing three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings.

Problem Solving

Problem-solving in math involves figuring out a sequence of steps to reach a certain solution. Poor visuospatial processing hinders this process by making it difficult to identify patterns, reason through problems, manipulate equations, recognize similarities between equations, and construct and interpret models. Furthermore, inadequate visuospatial skills hold back mental calculations and pattern recognition needed to solve number puzzles and mathematical logic problems.

Reading Maps and Graphs

Maps, charts, and graphs all require plotting data onto a coordinate plane, graphing equations, identifying trends, and analyzing complex sets of information. Teens with weak visuospatial abilities often find map navigation confusing and have trouble interpreting graphs and tables. Difficulty recognizing shapes, proportions, and distances presented in graphical formats further hampers progress in this area.

Art and Design

Art projects like sculpture, pottery, drawing, painting, and origami rely on accurate perception and interpretation of visual details. Students without strong visuospatial skills tend to struggle with three-dimensional designs, accurately copying and repeating patterns, and mentally rotating objects. They lack depth perception, proper scale, and symmetry when creating works of art.


In the sciences, diagrams, graphs, photos, and illustrations all represent concepts with real-world applications. If not processed correctly, scientific photographs, models, and drawings become abstract jumbles of meaningless bits of information. Thus, good visuospatial skills are imperative to helping teenagers successfully apply theories and principles to practical experiments.

Spatial Organization

Spatial organization entails arranging physical elements in specific ways to facilitate access and use. Many ADHA teens suffer from disorganization, resulting in missing items, misplaced papers, cluttered spaces, and confusion. Weak visuospatial processing makes it hard to remember the locations of things, create systems of organizing items, or prioritize tasks that need completion.

Note-Taking and Studying

Note-taking holds great importance for academic success, yet cannot be done properly unless one has strong comprehension and visuospatial capabilities. Many students with poor attention expect to ace tests and achieve great grades simply by writing down everything the teacher says. Unfortunately, memorizing facts and reciting them verbatim do not equal true knowledge acquisition. Being able to take notes, organize them, and recall the content later requires sound visuospatial processing skills.

Fortunately, there are several cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) tools available to enhance visuospatial processing. 

If applied consistently and appropriately, they can significantly improve a person’s performance in related activities. 

As a cutting edge ADHD clinic for teens, our therapists and brain care experts are ready to help you find answers. Reach out today and claim your free call to find out how we can support your son or daughter.

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The information provided in this blog is for general educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author's affiliates. The author and affiliates make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this blog and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The author and affiliates shall not be liable for any errors or omissions in the content of this blog or for any damages arising therefrom or in connection with the use or performance of the information contained in this blog.

Rey Cortez

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