Thursday, January 31, 2013

Creating White Space

(I apologize for the low quality pictures. I'm having problems with my phone, and am in the midst of troubleshooting. Hopefully, much better ones will be coming soon.)

Our eyes are constantly taking in and processing our world. Everywhere we look we see shapes, colors, shades of light, and shadows create darkness. Sometimes our brain registers this input as soothing. Sometimes it registers it as irritating, overwhelming, or even painful.

For certain individuals it just proves to be too much and their brains get confused. Suddenly, it's as if they've forgotten how to perform even basic functions or execute a plan of action.

Now this can happen to anyone, some of the time. However, there are some that this can happen to anytime. This makes certain jobs of daily living very difficult. Take for example my children and their school work.

A normal page of math may not present a very big challenge to you or to me, but on some days, for my children, it can be paralyzing. Not everyday. Not every page. But when it happens, then they are completely at a loss of how to proceed.

Zak will just draw instead. He draws something, does a math problem, then draws some more. I would not object to this system if it didn't take him over two hours to complete one lesson!

Grace will get really upset and eventually dissolve into tears. She simply cannot proceed when this strikes.

Now, while she does not present enough evidence for me to suspect that she has SPD. She does have a few specific sensory difficulties. This may be one of them. Or maybe it's our first indication of ADHD, or something else. Or maybe she's just six and sometimes school is hard. I don't know. Yet.

What I do know is that we have found a HUGELY helpful solution! Thanks to one of the suggestions made in the book, The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. She suggested using a cardboard template to create white space around a singular task, a math problem, for example.

Well, I didn't have any cardboard at the moment so I just taped three envelopes together since they are thicker and more durable than just a single sheet of paper. I made two, one with a square cut-out, and one with a long skinny rectangle.

They have helped both Zak and Grace enormously! I made them with Zak in mind, but as it turns out, Grace actually uses them more often. She likes them a lot and will specifically ask to use them. And not just for her math either. She especially likes them for the sentences that she copies everyday.

They have proven very useful to Zak as well. They help him go from doing this:
To something I can actually find his math work on:
Not to mention it helps him to accomplish his math assignments in a very reasonable 20-30 minutes. We really love these!

No doubt there are many kids out there that might find a template like this helpful even if they don't have SPD, or other sensory issues.

It makes so much sense that this technique works. Just think about how nice a photograph looks when it has matting around it. Or how we arrange pictures on a wall with space in between. Or how much easier it is for us to read black print on a white background than white on black. 

We use white space all the time to draw our eye to a focal point. So, naturally, creating a little white space around a math problem or a single sentence can automatically make it easier on the brain to know how to proceed.  

Hooray for white space! A brilliant solution to a couple of our school day blues!


  1. Awesome idea! And so glad to see it such a sucess. :-)