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Suggested Strategies to Address Learning Weaknesses of Students with Spina Bifida, Visual-Motor -- SHNIC Educators Information

Visual-motor (eye-hand) difficulties are often seen in students with spina bifida who have shunts due to hydrocephalus. Visual perception problems mean that they have trouble "seeing" or "picturing" things in their heads, finding their way around, and poor coordination. Poor fine motor skills, combined with visual perception problems, impact the student's ability to use educational materials and tools, move around their school environment and succeed in reading, math, and writing activities. These suggestions have been found to be helpful when working with students with visual-motor difficulties.

  • Use a multi-sensory approach to instruction. Instruct through all modalities (visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, kinesthetic and smell), not just one.
  • Students with spina bifida need to develop an awareness of themselves in space. They should be involved in physical exercises and adaptive physical education activities.
  • Provide the student with many activities that give him practice in using his eyes and hands together. They should participate in a variety of fine motor tasks that involve a variety of materials (i.e., clay, paint, paper mache, crayons, markers, paste/glue).
  • Students with visual-motor problems will most likely have difficulty copying from the chalkboard. Allow the use of peer note takers or provide the students with a printed copy of what is on the board.
  • In practicing copying from the chalkboard, reduce the amount of material to be copied and enlarge or highlight material to be copied.

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