Is your child struggling with reading, writing or hand-eye coordination skills? This article looks at the different visual processing skills needed to perform everyday tasks and provides some easy at home activities that might be able to build up visual processing skills. Your Occupational Therapists can help you and your child develop fun interactive activities to support your visual processing needs.

What is the difference between visual processing disorder and a vision issue?

Visual Processing Disorder: When the brain is not making sense of what it sees

Vision issue/impairment: The Brain is not receiving accurate information from the eye (needs to be assessed by optometrist or eye doctor)

Some tasks your child might struggle completing with a Visual Processing Disorder

  • Copy words or drawings accurately
  • Quality of written work is poor despite adequate fine motor skills
  • Avoids puzzles, mazes and other “visual perception” activities
  • Letters or words are reversed or inverted when reading and/or when writing (after around 7 years of age)
  • Struggles to learn letters and numbers.
  • Very poor reader – struggles to remember sight words or to identify letters in order to blend

There are different forms of visual processing that help us do different tasks. Under this umbrella is:

Visual Attention
Visual Perception
Visual Figure-Ground
Form Constancy
Visual Discrimination
Visual Memory
Sequential Memory
Visual Closure
Visual Spatial-Relations

See below for in-depth discussion on Visual Perceptionand Visual Attention, two key areas of visual processing that occupational therapy can assist kids with visual processing delay.

Visual Perception

Visual perception refers to the brain’s ability to make sense of what the eyes see.

Visual perception skills impact so much of what we do. For kids who struggle with visual perceptual skills, so many areas are affected. Visual perception impacts reading, writing, learning, comprehension, being able to find objects in a busy space, visual motor skills (including copying written materials), hand-eye coordination, and even social emotional skills! (such as being able to give eye contact)

Distractibility and Visual Attention

Does your child have trouble getting distracted by visual stimuli?

Visual Attentionincludes a variety of areas however Selective Visual Attention refers to our ability to notice and process specific information while disregarding other, less relevant information. This is an imperative skill to be able to discern visual information and attend accordingly. Shared Visual Attentionallows us to shift focus between visual input and filter unnecessary information.

Tools to help build Visual Perception and Visual Attention skills.

  • Dot-to-dots
    • Along with any line-drawing or pairing games, dot-to-dots facilitate building awareness of visual perception, as well as visual motor integration. A great game that can be done alone or with friends.
  • Word searches
  • Card games such as: Spot Itor Snap
    • Spot it: Is a fast-paced game that requires a great deal of visual processing speed as you try to match your card to the card in the middle before everyone else. There are multiple ways to play this game, so if you are getting bored with one, why not try another way.
    • Snap: The card game for younger children to build up there visual memory and ability think quick!
  • Puzzles
  • Where’s Wally Books; or alternate books with hidden figures that need to be found
  • Visual perception work sheets –pleasespeak to your occupational therapist for details.
  • Gross motor activities including:
    • Bean bag throwing games, catch with a ball,
    • Pegging up washing
    • Peg races with friends

Visual Processing Toys