Visual Perception Problems

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Visual perception problems affect how the brain perceives and processes what the eyes see. Visual perception abilities include:

Visual discrimination is the ability to distinguish similarities and differences between objects like letters (d, b) or shapes.  In reading, this skill helps children distinguish between similarly spelled words, such as was/saw, then/when, on/one, or run/ran.

Visual sequencing, or visual sequential memory, is the ability to determine or remember the order of symbols, words, or objects.  This skill is particularly important for spelling.  A child who struggles with visual sequencing may omit, add or transpose letters within words.  He or she may subvocalize (whisper or talk aloud) while writing.  Recognizing and remembering patterns may also prove difficult.

Visual figure-ground is the ability to locate a single object within a complex background.  This skill keeps children from getting lost in details. A child with poor figure-ground becomes easily confused with too much print on the page, affecting his or her concentration and attention. He or she may also have difficulty scanning text to locate specific information.

Visual-motor processing is using feedback from the eyes to coordinate movement of other parts of the body.

Visual memory is the ability to recall characteristics of what is or has been seen.   This skill helps children remember what they read and see by processing information through their short-term memory and filtering that information into their long-term memory. Children with poor visual memory may struggle with comprehension. They often subvocalize, or softly whisper to themselves, as they read in order to help compensate auditorily. They may have difficulty remembering what a word looks like or fail to recognize the same word on a different page. They may also take longer copying assignments because they must frequently review the text.

Visual closure is the ability to know what an object is when only parts of it are visible. This skill helps children read and comprehend; their eyes don't have to individually process every letter in a word for them to quickly recognize the word by sight. This skill can also help children recognize inferences and predict outcomes. Children with poor visual closure may have difficulty completing a thought. They may also confuse similar objects or words, especially words with close beginning or endings.

Visual spatial relations are the ability to distinguish differences among similar shapes and forms. This skill helps children in understanding relationships and recognizing underlying concepts, and is closely related to the problem solving and conceptual skills required for higher-level science and math.

Visual spatial orientation, or a visual spatial relationship, is helpful with letter reversals. While some parent and educators consider letter reversals after age seven to be a symptom of dyslexia, the most common cause of reversals in older children is a lack of visual spatial development, or consistently knowing left from right, either in relationship to their own bodies or to the world around them. Children with poor visual processing have not developed adequate skills in visual perception and spatial orientation, such as laterality and directionality.  Also, children who experience frequent double vision deal with confusion resulting in their brains misinterpretation of visual input.

Visual form constancy is the ability to mentally manipulate forms and visualize the resulting outcomes. This skill helps children distinguish differences in size, shape, and orientation. Children with poor form-constancy may frequently reverse letters and numbers.

Children with visual perception problems may have difficulty with letter reversals, learning the alphabet, recognizing words, and understanding basic math concepts.