Building Spatial Awareness Using S.T.O.P. Dots

Spatial awareness is the ability to be aware of oneself in space.  It is an organized knowledge of objects in relation to oneself in that space. Symptoms of spatial awareness difficulties often include bumping into things, poor sense of where a body begins and ends, difficulty keeping track of time, poor attention span, and trouble planning and organizing thoughts.  About half of the diagnosed ADHD population struggles with spatial awareness.  (

Often spatial awareness difficulties are treated through occupational therapy.  Sarah Ward, a renowned occupational therapist from Concord, Massachusetts has developed a method of building those essential skills at home and school.  The S.T.O.P. dots process is taught to students using systematic, direct instruction.  It is meant to prepare students for transitions from room to room or activity to activity.  Using visuals, the acronym is presented, along with questions a student asks themselves before a transition.

​S – Space (What space am I going to next?)
T –  Time (What will this be time for when I get there?)
O – Objects (What objects will I use?)
P – People (What will my role be when there?)

Once a student is familiar with these questions, small red dots (preferably in the shape of stop signs) are placed in transition areas.  At home these include; doors, thresholds, bottom/top of stair cases, edge of tables, and inside of car doors.   At school; edge of desk, classroom door, bathroom sign out books, cubbies/lockers, or agendas.  Each time a student sees a S.T.O.P. dot, they are trained to stop and ask themselves the four questions to be more spatially prepared for their new surroundings.

​The coaches at Effective Effort Consulting have been trained in this method and have seen tremendously positive results in our students.  Those receiving this type of instruction have become more aware of their surroundings and thus more productive in their daily lives.