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Visual Perception

What is it?


Visual Perception (VP) refers to the way we process and understand information we take in visually.

The motor muscles in our eyes must work together to complete smooth tracking movements (such as tracking words across a page as you read) and saccadic movements (such as looking up and back down to copy information from the board).


Visual perception is the umbrella term we use to talk about deficits or strength in the following areas:

Visual Attention: Focusing on important visual information and disregard unimportant background items.

Visual Closure: Recognising a form or object when part of the picture is missing. (picturing how the rest of an uncompleted image might look when we are doing a puzzle or writing or reading a letter,  word, number or diagram)  

Visual Discrimination: Determining differences or similarities between objects based on size, colour, shape, etc (between 'b and 'd' for example)

Visual Figure Ground:  Locating something in a busy background (finding your keys on a cluttered bench, not glossing over an exam question on a busy page)

Visual Form Constancy: Knowing a form or shape is the same, even if it has been made smaller/larger or has been turned around. ('A' and 'A' are the same, whether written or typed)

Visual Memory: remembering what something looks like e.g. what  the word “Mother” looks like(used when learning to read or copying words into a book)

Visual Sequential-Memory: The ability to recall a sequence of objects in the correct order. (Learning their mobile phone number, learning how to spell words)

Visual Spatial Relationships: Understanding how objects relate in their environment. (Realising the difference between 'b and 'd', not bumping into things when we manoeuvre through a crowded room)

Why is it a problem?

Children with VP weaknesses can find it challenging to accomplish everyday activities, such as copying from the board, writing, doing puzzles, spelling, reading, remembering their place when reading or copying, copying correctly, remembering sight word and correctly orientating letters.

Everyday living activities, such as dressing, following instructions (“find your boots in your room, and go put them in your bag on the kitchen bench”),finding objects in their bag or room or play activities (such as correctly rotating blocks when building lego or block towers) can also be affected. 

These children may be frustrated at their struggle with school work. They may also find it very hard to maintain attention and interest in reading or writing activities as it requires so much concentration. They can find it hard to filter out all the nonimportant visuals in a classroom.   There may be daily struggles with parents over organisation and homework.


How does OT help?

Visual Perception difficulties are diagnosed using standardised asssessments: either the Developmental Test of Visual Perception 3rd edition (DTVP3) or the Beery VMI 3rd Edition (Beery test of Visual MotorIntegration), depending on the presenting difficulties. These assessments can be quite  time consuming so sometimes initital assessments may need to go longer when visual perception is being assessed. 

Therapy includes visual-motor integration writing tasks and motor coordination physical activities as well as training the eyes and working on any interrelated motor skills, motor planning, cogntive or memory deficits through short term memory training. 

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