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Visual Perception

Visual information processing skills are a set of skills used to obtain information from the environment and integrate that information with other senses (eg hearing, taste, smell and touch), and higher cognitive functions. There are five visual processing skills required for efficient learning in the classroom.

Visual Spatial

Recognized by educators as being important for learning, this skill is required to develop directional concepts such as up and down and left and right. Children must develop an awareness of their own sidedness before they can understand where objects are in space relative to themselves. In the classroom children are taught to read from left to right, and letters can have the same shape but different sounds depending on which direction they face, so spatial awareness is critical for learning.

Symptoms and signs of visual spatial dysfunction.

  • Reversal of letters and numbers.
  • Mixes up left and right.
  • Poor coordination and balance.
  • Poor sports performance.
  • Favors one side of the body more than the other, doesn’t like to cross the midline.

Visual Analysis

Another important skill required for learning is the ability to analyse and discriminate visual information to obtain meaning. Children need to be aware of the distinctive features of visual forms including shape, size and colour. Visual analysis can be sub-classified into four different skills:

  1. Visual memory – essential to recall previously presented visual material, can be whole or sequential.
  2. Form perception – ability to differentiate and recognize forms, includes visual discrimination, figure ground, closure and form constancy.
  3. Visual discrimination – Visual discrimination is the awareness of the distinctive features of objects and written language symbols. Awareness of similarities and differences.
  4. Visual attention – focusing consciousness on a task, attending to certain parts of a form and ignoring others.

Symptoms and signs of visual analysis dysfunction

  • Difficulty in learning the alphabet, basic maths and recognizing words.
  • Confuses words with similar beginnings
  • Difficult to distinguish likeness and small differences
  • Difficulty in recognizing letters or simple forms

Visual Motor Integration

Visual-motor integration is the ability to integrate visual information processing with motor movements, it requires visual analysis, eye-hand coordination and the integration process. It is an important skill in the classroom for writing, copying and drawing. Constant sensory feedback is required to monitor shape, size, orientation and spatial relationships.

Early in life, visual motor responses are used to explore and investigate objects in the world.

Later in life, vision is the major source of information, motor response is used to confirm.

Further development produces fine eye-hand coordination skills eg, writing, tying shoelaces.

Dysfunction can cause poor spacing and organization of written work and difficulty copying from the board.

Symptoms and signs of visual motor integration dysfunction.

  • Untidy drawing and writing skills.
  • Difficulty copying from the board.
  • Difficulty in staying on lines and poor spacing.
  • Slow to complete written assignments.
  • Numbers not aligned properly in maths columns.

Visual Auditory Integration

Visual auditory interaction is the ability to recognize that a spoken word can be represented by written symbols.

Requires remembering the sequence and spacing of sounds and then integrating that information with the visual modality.

Required for establishing the proper association of sounds with visual symbols needed for learning letters and words.

Deficiencies reduce ability to interpret spoken language into written symbols, slow reading and difficulty learning the alphabet and spelling.

Symptoms and signs of visual auditory integration dysfunction.

  • Difficulty learning to read or slow reading speed
  • Difficulty with spelling
  • Difficulty learning symbol sound relationships

Visual Imagery

Visual imagesVisual imagery is where a child becomes aware of his or her mental images. It is the ability to recognize, recall and manipulate visually presented information.

Visual imagery is required to recall letters, numbers and words, important for reading, spelling and numeracy.

Some words are not phonetically correct and word recognition is required to spell them correctly.

Poor visual imagery leads to trouble comprehending what is being read.


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