How Could He Not Remember Where He Put It?

Shane is a good photographer. One of the few things he wanted for Christmas was a nice, professional camera. And surprise! Santa got one for him.

Two months later, I saw Shane’s camera on the floor, half under the couch. So I left a note on Shane’s bed. “Pick up your camera, and put it somewhere safe,” said the note, “or you will no longer have a nice, professional camera.”

The camera disappeared from its spot on the floor.

A few days later, Shane had a friend over, and they wanted to make a video. But they couldn’t find Shane’s camera.

“I’ve looked everywhere it could be,” Shane said. “And it’s not in any of the places I would put it.” They didn’t make a video.

The next day, I asked Shane: “Did you find your camera yet?”

“No,” he said. “I don’t have any idea where I put it.” We had this same conversation for days, with me getting progressively more upset. How could he not remember where he put it?

“I’ve been telling you for years,” I admonished, “that when you put something down, you need to picture it in your mind so you can remember where you put it!”

Then, quite suddenly, I had a revelation.

Shane had a vision processing disorder. He CAN’T picture it in his mind, because he never developed the skill to do that when he was a baby, or a toddler, or a preschooler. That’s why things get tossed all over the place, and why he can never find things after he puts them down.

Shane is severely lacking in visual memory skills! That’s why he’s always had trouble spelling – and I knew that. But I didn’t think about his inability to remember where he put things.

After he went through all that therapy at age 6-7, I forgot about the things he didn’t learn in the years before he started.

So I hopped on the internet and, sure enough, the part of the brain that allows Shane to write visual stories and songs, and take such great photos, is a completely different part of the brain than the one that creates visual memories.

I re-read the symptoms of kids with vision processing disorder. Among other characteristics, one article noted that memory issues were likely:

Long- or short-term visual memory issues: Kids with either type have difficulty recalling what they’ve seen.

So I started looking for ideas on how to improve his visual memory. It’s fun, actually. These are the games I most enjoyed as a kid: matching games, concentration, what’s missing?, etc. We’ve done a few games this week, and Shane seems to like them, too.

Sure enough, it’s a struggle for him. Not a struggle like, gee the kid can’t remember anything! – but a struggle like, huh, I never realized how much he needed to improve this skill.

Days later, Shane found his camera. It was in a rather neutral place, and none of us understood why he hadn’t been able to find it earlier.

I was glad he found it.

But I’m even happier that we can help him with something he’s going to need for the rest of his life.


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