Visual Processing: How to Recognize a Visual Processing Disorder in Your Child Visual Processing

Visual Processing: How to Recognize a Visual Processing Disorder in Your Child

Many parents and educators have a hard time recognizing the signs and symptoms of a Visual Processing Disorder (VPD) in their child or students. Oftentimes parents or teachers think their child needs glasses or they can’t see the chalkboard so they try moving them closer to the front of the classroom. Children with visual processing issues often struggle with visual memory, visual-motor skills and processing what they see, which can affect their reading, tracking, writing and math abilities. Your child may see the information clearly, but their brain cannot process the information they see. This may be the reason why they write their letters backward, forget letters and numbers, aren’t able to sequence math facts, and can’t use their eyes to track their hand as they write on a piece of paper or copy notes from the chalkboard.

Visual Processing: How to Recognize a Visual Processing Disorder in Your Child | ilslearningcorner.com

Visual processing issues are often mistaken for Dyslexia and ADHD because children struggle with reading, tracking, attention and focus. The best intervention for your child is to work with a vision specialist who can strengthen the eyes, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination with special exercises for better visual processing. You may also want to check with a vision therapist for a retained primitive reflex that could also cause vision processing issues. Parents can also purchase toys that help their child’s ocular motor skills and visual planning for better processing.

In addition, it’s important to know the differences of what a  visual processing issue is and what it is not, especially if a child could potentially be misdiagnosed with another type of learning challenge. It could mean the difference in how to help a child and what intervention is right or wrong for their specific needs.

Visual Processing: How to Recognize a Visual Processing Disorder in Your Child | ilslearningcorner.com

How to Recognize the Signs

Here are some helpful tips to determine whether your child is showing signs of visual planning issues or if it may be another learning challenge.

What it is

What it is not

How to Recognize Auditory Issues
  • Visual processing is how the brain perceives and processes information that is seen through the eyes.
  • Children who struggle with visual processing issues have trouble interpreting information with their eyes, but typically do not have impaired vision.
  • Children don’t always recognize the difference between shapes, letters, symbols and numbers.
  • Along with visual issues, your child may struggle with gross and fine motor development.
  • Your child could have trouble with one or more of these eight types of visual processing issues: visual discrimination, visual figure-ground discrimination, visual sequencing, visual-motor planning, long-term or short-term visual memory, visual-spatial, visual closure, and letter and symbol reversal.
  • It is not dyslexia. Many times children are often misdiagnosed or mistaken for having dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia and visual processing issues are also not the same disorder.
  • It is not a vision issue. Children can have 20/20 vision and still struggle with visual processing.
  • It is not ADHD or a Sensory Processing Disorder although many children with visual processing issues struggle with attention and focus because they cannot process information they see.
  • Children do not grow out of visual processing disorders. There are tools and resources to improve their skills, but they may struggle with this issue into adulthood.
Signs and symptoms to watch for
  • 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).
  • Because a visual processing issue is not dyslexia, children often pass eye exams even if they can’t identify letters, shapes and numbers.
  • Is not easily diagnosed or addressed by teachers and schools.
  • Children with visual processing issues are not lazy even though their behavior is often mistaken for not caring.
  • It is a myth that children with visual processing issues can’t learn. Kids with visual processing issues are very smart and can progress with intervention.
Is intervention available?
  • Vision therapy is typically the best method for improving a visual processing issue. Vision therapists can provide tools and resources for strengthening the eyes and improving their visual-motor skills.
  • Find toys that strengthen your child’s ocular motor skills and visual planning.
  • Work with your school to obtain an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which can provide your child with special accommodations in the classroom.
  • Ask the teacher to read the information from the chalkboard aloud. If a child’s visual skills are weak, they may learn better through their auditory.
  • Ask for another student to help take notes for your child or have the teacher take a picture of the chalkboard and send it to you so you can give instructions to your child verbally.
  • Glasses and corrective lenses won’t correct a visual processing issue. A child can have perfect vision and still struggle with visual processing issues.
  • Medication does not help a visual processing issue. While children may display signs of attention and focus issues, medication cannot correct gaps with their visual-motor skills or the processing of information.
  • Having your child sit closer to the chalkboard typically won’t help because their vision is most likely working properly.

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Visual Processing: How to Recognize a Visual Processing Disorder in Your Child | ilslearningcorner.com


Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs


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