Cognitive Ability


Involvement in Learning

Related Challenges to Learning

Visual Thinking

Understanding, manipulating and coordinating visual experiences and mentally constructed images.

Visual thinking is fundamental to academic and social learning.  At the pre-school to elementary school levels, visual thinking supports spelling, writing, word and face recognition as well as locating and arranging objects for play.  Later, visual thinking supports comprehension of new information, conceptual learning, navigating complex information and executive functioning.

• Loses one’s belongings

• Difficulty initiating homework & play

• Poor penmanship

• Letter & number reversals

• Difficulty conveying thoughts through writing

• Difficulty following directions

• Superficial comprehension

• Misses social cues

Logical Thinking

Problem solving involving application of knowledge to novel situations.  Logical thinking includes categorizing objects, patterning, deductive and inductive reasoning.

Logical thinking is important for conceptual learning versus rote memorization. Meaningful and independent thinking relies upon accurate and efficient understanding of information and ideas.

• Tendency towards rote memorization versus conceptual understanding

• Poor understanding of math concepts

• Difficulty drawing inferences

• Trouble understanding causality & grey area thinking

Body & Sense Thinking

Coordinating one's body accurately and efficiently. Body and sense thinking involves the ability to “visualize” body concepts such as a mental map of one's body, body axes and body and space relationships.

Body and sense thinking provides a foundation for visual thinking and improved physical coordination. Body and sense thinking is important for academic learning, athletics, and navigating classroom and playground spaces.

• Confusion with left & right orientations

• Awkward running & climbing

• Difficulty with athletics & bike riding

• Poor understanding of personal space

• Frequent tripping, falling, & bumping into objects

Digital Movement

The ability to effortlessly coordinate and differentiate fingers for problem solving tasks such as writing, keyboarding, playing a musical instrument and artwork.

Fine digital motor skills are needed in school for legible penmanship, handwork, and giving proper care to school and personal belongings. Digital discriminative movements also support personal hygiene, dressing oneself and eating.

• Tires easily when writing

• Difficulty opening packages, cutting, or taping

• Difficulty closing or opening fasteners

• Trouble with keyboarding

• Messy when eating

Ocular Movement

The ability to efficiently and comfortably coordinate one's eyes for tracking and focusing. These skills are evaluated by a Developmental Optometrist.

Reading, writing and other fine motor tasks rely on a solid foundation of ocular motor skills. Ocular motor abilities are important for ball sports that involve tracking people or objects on the field and hitting or kicking moving targets.

• Skipping lines of text

• Re-reading the same lines

• Fatigue or opposition to reading & writing

• Difficulty locating objects & people in space

Receptive Communication Thinking

Understanding of language. Receptive communication involves the coordination of Auditory, Visual and Logical abilities.

Receptive communication is basic to making sense of classroom instruction and social interactions. The understanding of different perspectives and frames of reference rely on receptive communication.

• Difficulty understanding directions

• Difficulty remembering what is said

• Difficulty interpreting social cues

• Shows effort, but has incomplete follow-through with academic work

Expressive Communication Thinking

Expressive communication is the ability to convey knowledge through speech, writing, or gesture. Expressive communication involves the coordination of Auditory, Visual and Logical abilities.

Writing is an expressive communication tool that is fundamental to accademic learning. In social settings, gesture and verbal communication abilities support fluid interactions, allowing one to relate feelings, experiences and thoughts to others.

• Slow, disorganized or incomplete expression of thoughts, instructions, or ideas

• Difficulty constructing a coherent essay

• Awkward social interactions

Representational Thinking

Representing information through drawings, models, sculpture, or sound. Representational thinking involves the coordination of Visual, Digital and Ocular Motor abilities.

Representational thinking is used in school to create dioramas, charts and drawings. Learning that involves representing concepts or information through visual materials is important for math, science, history and language arts.

• Difficulty getting started with visual construction projects.

• Difficulty completing projects in a timely manner without support.

Auditory Thinking

Imaging and manipulating auditory information. Auditory thinking involves knowledge of sound in figure-ground, part-to-whole and memory. Auditory thinking includes the coordination of receptive communication and visual thinking skills.

Understanding sound is primary to reading, making sense of verbal instructions, learning a foreign language and music. Students who can give meaning to sounds are more prepared for learning in academic and social arenas.

• Difficulty reading in a fluid manner

• Difficulty understanding a teacher’s instruction with background noises

• Difficulty following directions

• Difficulty discerning or recalling words & sounds within phrases

Spatial Thinking

Spatial Thinking involves knowlege of personal space in relation to external objects and others. Spatial Thinking involves the coordination of several cognitive ablities to include visual, logical, body and sense, and ocular discriminitive thinking.

Spatial thinking supports most areas of learning. In math, understanding ratios, graphs, word problems and geometry rely on knowledge of spatial relationships. Physics, chemistry, anatomy and biology emphasize complex spatial concepts. Creative play and social problem solving interactions rely on knowledge of spatial relationships.

• Difficulty transforming concepts into tables & graphs.

• Over-reliance on memory versus conceptual understanding to interpret & navigate spatial & visual information.