Neurodivergent students are often big-picture thinkers, permanently curious, always wanting to know why, with their heads full of amazing mental images. For example, to picture a giraffe, a big picture thinker may think of a whole herd of giraffes roaming across the savanna, with a multitude of other animals. Also known as visual-spatial intelligence, this occurs when students possess the ability to visualise the picture accurately and modify their surroundings based on their perceptions.
Unfortunately, lack of control of their mental images can lead to confusion, anxiety, internal chaos, closing down and even withdrawal from the world. The latter is the last thing we want for these students, who have such great talents to offer us.
When neurodivergent students manage to avoid this confusion, they develop creative and imaginative skills, which are mainly rooted in their ability to create and use mental images in all sorts of areas of their lives, including art, design, sports and entrepreneurship.
Developing the skills to control mental images is such a relief; as one teenager said, “I have up to 100 images at any one time and when it becomes too much I just fall down a hole in my mind, for a few moments – known as zoning off in my family. You can’t help me with that can you?” 10 minutes later he was making changes as he learnt how to control his images, with a look of wonder on his face.
This is an extract from “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning” To find out more invaluable tips and relevant information go to www.tiahl.org/new-perspectives-books-and-cds or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com and order your own copy.