Visual Perception

What is visual perception?

Visual Perception refers to the brain’s ability to make sense of what the eyes see. This is not the same as visual acuity, which refers to how clearly a person sees (for example “20/20 vision”). A person can have 20/20 vision and still have problems with visual perceptual processing.

Why is it important?

Good visual perceptual skills are important for many every day skills such as reading, writing, completing puzzles, cutting, drawing, completing math problems, dressing as well as many other skills. Without the ability to complete these everyday tasks, a child’s self-esteem can suffer and their academic performance is compromised. 

You can tell there are problems with visual perception if the child:

  • Has trouble completing puzzles or dot to dots.
  • Has difficulty planning actions in relation to objects around him/her.
  • Has difficulty with spatial concepts such as “in, out, on, under, next to, up, down, in front of.”
  • Has difficulty differentiating between “b, d, p, q;”
  • Reverses numbers or letters when writing.
  • Loses place on a page when reading or writing.
  • Has difficulty remembering left and right.
  • Forgets where to start reading.
  • Has difficulty sequencing letters or numbers in words or math problems.
  • Had trouble remembering the alphabet in sequence,
  • Has difficulty coping from one place to another (e.g. from board, from book, from one side of the paper to the other).
  • Has problems in dressing (i.e. matching shoes or socks).
  • Has trouble discriminating between size of letters and objects.
  • Has trouble remembering sight words.
  • Has difficulty completing partially drawn pictures or stencils.
  • Has difficulty attending to a word on a printed page due to his/her inability to block out other words around it.
  • Has difficulty filtering out visual distractions such as colorful bulletin boards or movement in the room in order to attend to the task at hand.
  • Has trouble sorting and organizing personal belongings (e.g. may appear disorganised or careless in work).
  • Has difficulty with hidden picture activities or finding a specific item in a cluttered desk.

When you see difficulties with visual perception, you might also see difficulties with:

  • Academic performance: The ease with which a student is able to complete academic tasks.
  • Attention and concentration: Sustained effort, doing activities without distraction and being able to hold that effort long enough to get the task done.
  • Self regulation: The ability to obtain, maintain and change one’s emotion, behaviour, attention and activity level appropriate for a task or situation in a socially acceptable manner.
  • Behaviour: May avoid or refuse to participate in activities that require visual perceptual skills.
  • Frustration: With precise eye and hand tasks.
  • Avoidance: Preference to get others to perform tasks for them under their direction, rather than actually doing themselves (e.g. “Daddy, draw me a house”, or “build me a rocket”, with refusal to do it themselves).
  • Organisation: May have difficulty keeping track of and organising belongings.

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