Visual Processing Problems (Visual Perceptual Problems)
What is a visual processing problem?
The ability to analyze and interpret visual input is sometimes referred to as visual processing or visual perception skills. This is an important aspect of vision, particularly for children in the first through fifth grades.
Just because a child can see clearly and comfortably does not guarantee that he or she well be able to make use of the incoming visual information. Visual processing can be broken down into several areas:
- Visual sequential processing
- Visual simultaneous processing
- Laterality and directionality
- Visual motor integration
- Auditory/Visual integration
- Visual form recognition
These skills are important when a child is young and is learning letter and number recognition, reading and early math skills. Visual processing skills develop in most children without the need for any special attention or intervention. However, in some children the development of visual processing skills does not keep pace with the child’s growth in other areas. This lag can lead to learning difficulties.
What types of visual processing problems can occur?
When a child has developmental lags in the area of visual processing it can result in a variety of difficulties:
- Reading comprehension
- Mathematical concepts
- Map/graphs interpretation
- Right/left confusion
- Visual memory
- Discriminating words/objects
- Poor handwriting
What should I do if I suspect that my child has a visual processing problem?
If a child is experiencing any of the problems listed above, a visual processing examination is recommended. This is a special examination which usually lasts about one and a half hours and probes the areas listed above. Testing leads to a better understanding as to which areas may be attributing to learning difficulties.
It is important to emphasize that it is not enough to have a conventional vision examination. The doctor must administer tests that specifically probe for visual processing and perceptual problems. This should be discussed with the vision doctor before an appointment is made.
How common are visual processing problems?
Approximately fifteen to twenty percent of children with learning problems have visual processing problems that are significant enough to interfere with school performance.
How are visual processing problems treated?
Eyeglasses alone will not correct visual processing problems. Rather, another form of treatment must be used. This is referred to as VISION THERAPY.
Perceptual therapy is a treatment approach that involves weekly office visits. During these visits, carefully selected and sequenced activities are given to the patient. The treatment is specifically designed to help the child reach his or her normal level of development in the visual processing skills that are found to be deficient. The success of vision therapy has been well-documented in scientific literature.
Will vision therapy alone eliminate the child’s learning problems?
Visual processing deficiencies can contribute to a learning disability. Therefore, improvements in visual skills can result in better learning efficiency and concentration and better enable the child to benefit from mainstream or remedial education. In many cases, the child may require additional educational support to overcome reading, math or other academic problems. The combination of vision therapy and educational remediation will often lead to the best overall result. Occasionally, counseling may also be helpful in solving the child’s learning problems
Vision Therapy can be the answer to many visual problems! Don’t hesitate to contact our office with your questions. To read definitions of Vision Therapy by outside sources, visit children-special-needs.org.