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25 Creative Ways to Use Map Reading

Posted by Emily Dubas, MS, CCC-SLP
Emily Dubas, MS, CCC-SLP
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What do driving, shopping at the mall, and finding the correct room in an unfamiliar building all have in common? These situations are made better through maps and navigation – and our Map Read exercise can help your patients find their way

There are variety of language and cognitive skills accessed in map reading, and the experience can be frustrating for people recovering from strokes or TBI. The Constant Therapy Map Reading exercise can help.

Maps come in all shapes and sizes. When you use a GPS while driving or read a building directory sign, you’ll engage several language and cognitive processes.

The Constant Therapy Map Reading exercise in the Everyday Skills category is a useful patient resource that contains more than a 100 functional maps for clinicians and patients to use to address a variety of therapy goals.  

How to Use Map Reading in Therapy Sessions

Because Map Reading incorporates a variety of language and cognitive skills, clinicians are able to use this exercise in many ways to address their patients’ unique goals in attention, memory, problem solving, visuospatial processing, expression, and comprehension. Let’s take a look at some ideas for optimizing your sessions with Map Reading.

Map Reading Excercise

Attention

  • Sustained Attention: Set a timer for the patient to attend to Map Reading for a given amount of time without fatiguing.
  • Selective Attention: This task is perfect for visual selective attention since the patient must locate important pieces of information on the map while ignoring distractions. To incorporate auditory selective attention, complete Map Reading in a noisy environment.
  • Alternating Attention: Use Map Reading for material during a Switching Sets exercise. The patient works on Map Reading for a period of time. When a timer goes off, the patient must switch to a new task. When the timer sounds again, the patient returns to Map Reading and picks up where they left off.
  • Divided Attention: You can use Map Reading for material during a divided attention exercise as well. Have your patient complete this task while listening to a podcast or conversation, demonstrating adequate attention by accurately answering comprehension questions.

Memory

  • Short Term Memory: This task naturally targets short term memory because to accurately answer a question, the patient must hold the question in memory while locating the information in the map.
  • Delayed Memory: Increase the demands on memory retrieval with Map Reading. Have the patient study the map for a period of time using memory strategies to encode the information. Then cover the map and have the patient complete a retrieval task such as drawing the map from memory, describing the map, or answering delayed recall questions about the map (e.g., “What question did Constant Therapy ask you?” “What building was on the map?” “What store was in the far left corner of the map?”)
  • Prospective Memory: At the beginning of the session, tell the patient to remember three activities that will be done in today’s session (with one of the activities being Map Reading). The patient must use memory strategies to recall and implement the activities.

Problem Solving and Reasoning

  • Inferences: Particularly in higher levels of Map Reading, the patient must read in between the lines to answer questions correctly. You can also discuss other ways to draw inferences with your patient by asking questions such as, “What type of map is this?" or "Where would you find it?”
  • Qualitative Reasoning: Use the maps as your materials for other activities such as putting words on the map in alphabetical order.
  • Deductive Reasoning/Decision Making: Look at the different routes on the map and decide which is the best option based on a set of rules (e.g., “If Columbus Ave has a traffic jam, what is an alternative route to take?” or “Your flight is taking off in Terminal D. What is best lot to park in and why?”)
  • Convergent Thinking: This Map Reading requires convergent thinking skills since the patient must solve for the correct answer.
  • Divergent Thinking: Prompt the patient to generate a list of ideas or solutions based on the map (e.g., If it’s a map of the campsite, "name five different things you would need to bring on your trip.")

Executive Functioning

  • Planning: Trial-and-error will result in incorrect responses or long response times. The patient can increase accuracy by using planning skills to systematically scan and locate important items in the map.
  • Time Estimation: Have the patient estimate how long it will take him/her to complete the Map Reading exercise.
  • Time Management: Create time-based problems based on the map presented (e.g. “It takes you 30 minutes to drive to the Capitol Building, and you need to arrive at 8 a.m. What time should you leave your house?”)

Visuospatial Processing

  • Spatial Orientation: In this task, the patient must connect how each visual detail is related to each other in space.
  • Left Neglect: The patient must scan to the left to ensure all aspects in their visual field are seen and attended to.

Reading Comprehension

  • Word Level Comprehension: The patient must read words and phrases on the map in order to answer  questions.
  • Sentence Level Comprehension: The patient must read and understand written questions in order to answer the associated questions.

Verbal Expression and/or Written Expression

  • Story Generation: Because these maps relate to everyday activities, it is very possible your patient has been to a place like what is pictured on the map. Prompt your client to share a story about a time they were in a similar location as the featured map. This could target verbal expression or language organization goals at the sentence or discourse level.
  • Giving Directions: Point to a starting and ending location on the map and prompt the patient to give verbal or written instructions on how to get to the endpoint.
  • Verbal Fluency: Prompt the patient to name as many items in a category related to the map (e.g., For a map of the airport: “Name as many airlines as you can in one minute.”)

Auditory Comprehension

  • Spoken Word to Written Word Matching: Speak the words seen on the map and prompt your patient to match the word that they hear to the written word on the map.
  • Sentence Level Comprehension: Cover the written questions and multiple choice answers and state the question aurally to the patient instead.
  • Following Spoken Instructions: Point to a starting and ending location on the map and give the client spoken directions on how to get to the endpoint.

Using Map Reading at Home for Carryover

The best way to build independence and continuity between sessions is through home practice.  Patients can log into their Constant Therapy program from their tablet or mobile phone to do Map Reading and their other speech therapy at-home exercises whenever and wherever they wish.

More About Map Reading

Curious about the details behind this exercise? Here is a little more information about Map Reading:

What is Map Reading?
You are presented with a functional map with a multiple choice question. You must locate the relevant information in the map in order to answer the question.

How is Map Reading Leveled?
There are three levels, with the details on the maps and the multiple choice distractors becoming increasingly more difficult in higher levels.

For example, in Level 1, you may be required to locate one piece of information. In Level 3, there are more demands on attention, memory, and reasoninglooking at more detailed maps, counting multiple items on the map,  or answering “if...then” questions.

How is Map Reading Scored?
Scoring is binary (response is either correct or incorrect). The client has the opportunity to review the response before moving on to the next item. Overall score is based on the percent of correct items provided.

Help Give Directions to Your Fellow Clinicians
As we've shared, there are many different ways to use Map Reading in speech therapy for adults and children. How do you use it in your sessions?  We would love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

View our tutorial videos on Map Reading or other Constant Therapy Tasks.

References:

  1. Brunsdon, R., Nickels, L., Coltheart, M., & Joy, P. (2007). Assessment and treatment of childhood topographical disorientation: A case study. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 53-94.
  2. Lloyd, J., Riley, G., & Powell, T. (2009). Errorless learning of novel routes through a virtual town in people with acquired brain injury. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 98-109.
  3. McGilton, K., Rivera, T., & Dawson, P. (2003). Can we help persons with dementia find their way in a new environment? Aging and Mental Health, 363-71.

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Constant Therapy is an award-winning cognitive and speech therapy app, created for survivors of stroke, brain injury, and other neurogenic disorders.

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