What Is Visual Processing And How Does It Impact Learning?
Vision is a complicated process – it is much more than just how well we see. Vision is a combination of visual acuity (eyesight), how our eyes function (tracking, eye teaming), and visual processing. This article will focus on the components of – and importance of – visual processing (visual perception) in learning.
Visual Processing is a term used to refer to the brains ability to perceive, interpret and process information that is seen through out eyes. Visual processing skills are what our brain uses to understand the world around us. It is also known as visual perception.
Visual processing is different than visual acuity (how well your eyes can see). In fact, children who have difficulties with visual processing typically do not have impaired vision.
Visual processing plays an important role in learning for our kids. If a child has difficulty with visual processing skills, children may have difficulties with reading, writing, and/or math, or just a more difficult time understnading the world around them and how to navigate through it safely.
Visual Processing can be broken down into several components, all of which play an important role in student’s visual perception and ability to learn.
- Visual Discrimination is the ability to recognize the differences and similarities between objects. It is also the ability to classify objects, symbols or shapes into categories such as color, position, form, pattern, texture, size and shape. Difficulties with visual discrimination will impact reading and math skills significantly, making it difficult to discriminate between different words, letters and numbers. Poor visual discrimination skills can also cause a child to have difficulty with directionality and laterality.
- Check out some fun games and activities to work on visual discrimination HERE:
- Visual memory is a child’s ability to see and remember what something looks like; Recalling information such as activities, pictures or words that have been viewed in the past. If a child has difficulty with visual memory, they may have a hard time with letter/number recognition, recalling sight words, spelling and copying from the board.
- Check out some fun games and activities to work on visual memory HERE (Thanks OT Mom for the great ideas!)
VISUAL FORM CONSTANCY
- Visual form constancy is the ability to recognize and label object even when they are viewed from a different environment or angle. In essence, the ability to mentally manipulate an object into different positions just by looking at it. A child is using form constancy if they are able to recognize a triangle when the color or size changes, when it is oriented differently, or if it is placed in a different context (within another picture). A child who struggles with form constancy may note recognize shapes, numbers and letters or be able to generalize skills across environments. A child with difficulties with form constancy may also struggle with spatial relationships in puzzles and some math activities.
- Check out some fun games and activities to work on form constancy HERE:
VISUAL SEQUENTIAL MEMORY
- Being able to understand the order or sequence of numbers, items, pictures, and/or words after viewing them. Children with poor sequential memory will have difficulties with their ability to read and spell correctly; this is because every word consists ot letters in a specific sequence. If a child has a difficult time recalling the proper sequence of letters, it can impact the overall word – and meaning – that is being perceived. Suddenly the word name can become mean or amen. This can also impact math skills as well.
- Check out some fun games and activities to work on visual sequential memory HERE:
VISUAL FIGURE- GROUND
- The ability to distinguish, isolate or find an object in varying environment. This is the ability to understand foreground from background in order to help the child understand that they see. This can include faces, objects, landscapes, letters or numbers. Children who struggle with figure ground have a difficult time scanning for relevant information or reading with many words on the page. They also may struggle to locate items within a busy environment.
- Check out some fun games and activities to work on figure ground HERE:
- Visual closure is the brain’s ability to recognize a familiar item, word or picture when only part of it is shown. For example, if your cat was hiding under the blanket and only his tail was sticking out, would you be able to recognize that it was a cat? Visual closure skills allow a child to quickly recognize letter and words without having to fully decode them. Difficulties with visual closure will impact a child’s ability to read fluently and may also impact reading comprehension. It could impact a child’s letter formation, legibility and neatness. In addition, it may make it difficult for a child to locate items within their backpack or desk or a busy area.
- Check out some fun games and activities to work on visual closure HERE:
Visual processing and visual perceptual skills are important for many every day skills and are an important part of academic learning. Reading, writing, completing puzzles, cutting, drawing, completing math problems, dressing, finding your sock on the bedroom floor as well as many other skills could be impacted if they struggle with visual processing skills. But by identifying where the breakdown or challenge is and working to strengthen those skill areas, we can help our kids reach their optimal potential.
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Hi, I am an occupational therapist at South Shore Therapies. I specialize in pediatirc brain injury and stroke, but love working with all families to help kids reach their optimal potential. Our mission with SST’s social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future.
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