Using visualisationVisualisation is an amazingly powerful and useful therapy tool. It can be used to support auditory processing skills, visual memory (for example, for shapes, patterns, and scenes), visual sequencing skills (remembering patterns) and expressive language skills. For a child with literacy difficulties or dyslexia, visualisation can help them to learn letter shapes and how to spell words, and it can also help with their vocabulary, as discussed above. Several different methods can be used to discover and develop visualisation skills, and for each child the process will be different.
Developing basic visualisation skills:
- ensure the child is able to visualise. This can be difficult as visualisation, despite the name, is not so visual to start with. I often ask a child to draw a picture of him/herself with a thought bubble picturing something we have just spoken about. This can work well alongside the use of language such as “I see....” or “I picture...”, “What do you see?”
- when you talk about what you are visualising, the image can be made clearer, and therefore easier to recall, if you talk about its size, smell and colour, how it feels and what is going on around the image
- once the child has understood visualisation, start at the basic level, which is to visualise single objects. For example, “Let’s picture a dog. I see a black dog...he is black...he is big...he is barking. Can you see a dog? What colour is he? What is he doing?”
- you can then move onto visualising pictures in a row, picturing objects in specific patterns and visualising stories. When reading stories, act out the events with the child, whilst continuously talking about what s/he is seeing and imagining (such as smells, movement and colour). This will help secure the visual images and sequences and therefore the overall recall of the story. To test the use of visualisation after you have read the story a few times, you can ask the child to act out the story and talk about what they saw. For example, “First I saw... then I saw...” Provide models of what you have pictured in the story as well
- you can also use visualisation to support storytelling and expressive language skills, by discussing what you see happening.
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