Stop for a moment and look up from your computer. All around you are things that were designed by someone. Even the webpage in front of you was designed. Your computer was designed. The room you are sitting in, the clothing you are wearing? Everything was designed, and chances are they were designed by a person with the gift of being able to think visually.
Some people are able to imagine something in their minds that has not yet been created. They are able to envision a better way of doing things. They are able to envision an object and change the size, shape and color using the power of the 3D workstation called the imagination. The people who designed the objects all around you were often called bad students, day-dreamers and doodlers. They are the visual thinkers.
What if your child is a visual thinker? Only 10% of the population have the power to think visually, rather than to think with words. The people with the most powerful of visual minds often have an imbalance when it comes to standardized learning situations. The visual mind swirls with colors, ideas, music, art, and creativity and drives the visual thinker into a state of constant creativity and movement. Standardized systems of learning try to conform the child and make efforts to normalize him through medication, punishment, and control so he will not be a disrupting in the classroom.
The visual thinker learns differently, and if you ask me, I would tell you that they can not be taught, they must discover. They struggle with the lifelessness of flat pages, the discomfort of the desk, the buzz of the florescent lights, dullness of flat words on a page, and concepts void of emotion, dimension and wonder. They will ponder the mysteries of measurement and time, but their minds go blank when sitting at a desk staring at repetitive lists of math facts. They create works of art and new inventions from items rescued from the trash can, but can't hold a pencil correctly when asked to write down their spelling words. They can tell the most amazing stories and their words will take you to far off lands and fill the air with magic and mystery, but if asked to put a sentence on paper, they might just cry. They are brilliant, they are amazing, they are curious and brave... until they are forced to conform to a way of learning designed for children who have no dancing, no questions, no music and no colors in their minds.
The majority of students will be content to follow the instructions, fill in the blanks, and make their lists on paper, but the visual thinker was not created for desks, for charts, for lists, for textbooks, for flash cards, for teachers, or for chalkboards... they would dance on the desk, challenge the teacher, they would add color to the chart, they would roll up the chart to make a telescope or a musical instrument, they would stack the text books and build houses for invisible people, they would turn the flashcards in to a magic trick and turn the chalkboard into a work of art that belongs in a museum. They are constantly in search of the third dimension, the music and the movement.
The visual thinkers of the world were created to be the designers, inventors, the artists, the musicians, the sailors and explorers. We say they have a problem with obedience and respect or we call it Dyslexia, Asperger's Syndrome or ADHD. We try to tame them. Honestly, we have failed them.If a child is failing in his classroom, it is the classroom that failed the child, the child is not the one with a problem just because he learns differently.
The child must be set free to be the inventor, the artist, the dancer. So who will teach the inventor? Who will train the artist? The child must become his own teacher, and his parents and teachers must become his students, to learn from him, to understand him, to realize that he has within him the power to become great. We need to learn, to discover how to help him become who he was meant to be. We must accept that it may never happen in a desk, in a classroom and behind a pile of textbooks, even if you give the child medication and take away his crayons. Do you want to be the one to take away Albert's compass, Benjamin's kite, or Leonardo's paintbrush or little Thomas Edison's mirrors?
What is the solution for the child who fails in the classroom? Set him free from the classroom. Ask the child what he wants to learn about. Ask the child what he wants to do. Take the child to the book store, take the child to the art store, take the child to the beach, the forest, the ruins of a castle. Give him pets and let him catch lizards. Read to him until he learns to read to himself. Search for learning materials that captivate the visual mind, things like compasses, clay, mirrors and paintbrushes. Let him sail, play instruments, and dig in the dirt. Let him take things apart and give him colored pencils. Let him watch people at work doing all different things in the world, take him to the kitchen, take him to an art studio, take him into factories and show him how to use sewing machines, instruments, scroll-saws, and tools. Let her dance.
Someday you will look around the world and see things that were designed by someone great - your child. You will hear music that composed by someone great - your child. You will read books written by someone great - your child. You will try new recipes invented by someone great - your child. You will use computer programs designed by someone great - your child. Your child, the one who wouldn't sit still, who couldn't memorize math facts, who choked on spelling words, who danced on her desk, who failed in the classroom, who later designed a miracle and learned to tame lions... because she had a parent who set her free to be herself. Because he had a father who gave him tools instead of flashcards. Because she was set free to become who she was designed to be. He was given the love, acceptance, support and trust. She was free to dance, sing and draw.
This article was written by Sarah J. Brown, a visual thinker with Asperger's Syndrome. She failed 3rd grade because she spent too much time doodling and daydreaming. When she was 13 her parents chose to homeschool, because the school system was failing her. Sarah is the inventor of Dyslexia Games, a learning program for children with dyslexia, ADHD and Autism who need a learning program that uses art to teach reading, writing and spelling.