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Visual Processing Disorders: 8 Visual Processing Disorders to Watch for in your Child
This article provides helpful information regarding visual processing disorders and how to recognize the signs in your child. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
When people think of eyesight, the terms 20/20 vision, sunglasses and eye exams come to mind. Vision is so much more than that and can affect the academic process in ways you might never think of when your child is struggling with reading, writing and spelling. When you realize that 80 to 85 percent of learning occurs through your child’s visual system, it makes you rethink the learning process and focus on the importance of eyesight and how it impacts how they process information through their visual system.
The ultimate goal of the visual process when your child sees objects and processes information is to arrive at an appropriate motor or cognitive response. It’s our eyes that take in the images, but it is the brain that processes our world around us. Things like symbols, pictures, movement, distance, and colors are part of the endless stream of stimuli that reach our eyes. From that point, the brain must process the information accurately to give your child the opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes, a child can see perfectly fine, but there are weaknesses in the brain functions that process visual information. These weaknesses are called visual processing disorders or visual processing issues.
Visual processing affects everything your child does. Learning in the classroom is affected, as well as how a child responds to movement and distance. Visual discrimination problems can impede a child’s ability to play or participate in simple activities like a game of soccer. Ordinary day to day tasks such as sorting socks, climbing the stairs, putting away silverware, and picking out specific colors in a crayon box may be challenging for a child that silently struggles with visual processing disorders.
Visual Processing Disorders – What it isn’t
Visual processing disorders cover a variety of vision issues that have nothing to do with nearsightedness or farsightedness. A child with a visual processing issue may pass the eye exam with flying colors because the eyes are just fine. The problem lies in the brain, where the occipital lobe has trouble processing the signals that come from the eyes. While we think of vision as something to do with eyesight, it is much more than that. The eyes may be sending a perfectly accurate signal to the brain when they see shapes, letters and words on a page (for example, a triangle drawn on a piece of paper), but it won’t process the information. The eyes see a triangle, but they may not be able to declare which shape it is. Another example is when your child sees a car a short distance down the road, but the brain sees the car far away, which is similar to what happens when your child is trying to read notes from the chalkboard. Brain function is simply weak in these areas.
Visual processing disorders are not considered learning disabilities, but they are commonly found in kids that have learning disabilities. Many children with visual processing issues have 20/20 vision, but many times, a visual processing problem and a learning disability show up together. When this happens, it is called comorbidity. Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two or more conditions in the same person.
8 Types of Visual Processing Issues
Visual processing conditions are complex. There are eight identified visual processing issues, and a child can have more than one. Many of these conditions go undetected for years because they don’t show up on a simple eye exam. This easy to view chart describes the types of visual processing issues that may occur in your child and what to look for if they struggle in school.
Visual Processing Disorders
What it is
How it affects your child
|Visual Discrimination Disorder
|Kids with this type of difficulty struggle using their sense of sight for noticing and comparing features and details of different items. They struggle to distinguish one item from another
|Visual Figure-Ground Discrimination
|A child with this type of disorder has difficulty with discriminating a shape or object from the background
|Visual Motor-Processing Issue
|The child will struggle with utilizing visual information from the eyes to help coordinate movements with other parts of their bodies.
|Visual Sequencing Disorder
|Many kids with this sequencing issue have problems with recognizing the order of symbols, letters, numbers and words.
|Long or Short Term Visual Memory Problems
|Issues with remembering things seen a long time ago (long term) or recalling things seen recently (short term).
|Children who struggle with spatial relationships show delinquencies in understanding how objects are positioned in space in relation to themselves.
|Visual Closure Issues
|Visual Closure disorder is when a child does not have the ability to identify an object when a part or parts of the object is missing.
|Letter and Symbol Reversal Problems
|This visual reversal problem is common when the student is young. However, after age 7, if the child continues to reverse letters and numbers or makes letter substitutions when reading, this could indicate a problem.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges 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