Visual perception is our ability to process and organize visual information from the environment. A person may be able to easily read the individual letters on the chart, but have difficulty organize and making sense of visual information. Making sense of what you see is vital for school skills such as reading, writing and math, as well as life skills such as reading signs and maps, finding objects in a busy space, and taking part in hobbies or crafts.

We use our visual perception in everyday life when we catch a ball, distinguish a moth from a butterfly, read a road sign, recognize a face, or find an object in a messy drawer. It’s how we know the difference between a stop sign and a yield sign (both red signs). It’s how we know how far out our hand has to reach in order to pet the cat.
If visual perception is not developed properly, reading and writing may take extra cognitive effort and may slow down the learning process.

  • Visual Discrimination: The ability to visually discriminate similarities and differences.
  • Visual Memory: The ability to remember the characteristics of a given form after a brief presentation.
  • Visual Spatial Relationships: The ability to see differences among forms when all or a part of a form has a different spatial orientation.
  • Form Constancy: The ability to see the essential elements of a form, and identify them within other forms that may be smaller, larger, rotated, reversed or hidden within other designs.
  • Sequential Memory: The ability to remember for immediate recall a series of forms in their specific order of presentation.
  • Figure Ground: The ability to locate a form when embedded within other forms
  • Visual Motor Integration: The ability to take in, analyze, and reproduce visual information using paper and pencil.
  • Directional Concepts: The awareness of one’s own left and right and being able to project that onto other people and objects
Signs of a Visual Processing Problem:
  • Struggles to copy notes from the chalkboard.
  • Has difficulty identifying words and often leaves sounds or letters out while reading.
  • Struggles with directionality of letters, often writes them backward.
  • Confuses letters, shapes and numbers.
  • Has trouble with reading, cannot track words on a page.
  • Displays signs of poor visual memory. Can’t remember what they saw (i.e., phone numbers, words, letters and notes on the chalkboard).
  • Has trouble sequencing symbols, words or images, which is why they may have trouble with equations and math facts.
  • Displays attention and focus issues, has poor balance and coordination, runs into furniture or people.
  • Trouble with spatial awareness.
  • Struggles with visual-motor planning, which affects their handwriting and fine motor skills (their eyes can’t track their hand as they write).

Treatment may include vision therapy, and a multi-disciplinary approach with collaboration with education professionals, occupational therapists, psychologists, speech therapists, if needed.