Visual information processing helps describe what the brain is doing with the information from the eyes—how is it processed, stored, and retrieved. Can you make sense of, interpret, and use what you are seeing?
Visual Perceptual skills are just as important to good vision as other, more obvious skills like eye movement or focusing skills.
We partner with our sister office, Blacksburg Eye Associates, to get all appropriate visual perceptual testing to make help ensure our therapy patients get the best results.
What are the symptoms of visual processing issues?
It can be very hard to recognize the signs of visual processing issues. Here are some common symptoms of visual processing issues: (from www.understood.org)
- Doesn’t pay attention to visual tasks
- Is easily distracted by too much visual information
- Is restless or inattentive during video or visual presentations
- Lacks interest in movies or television
- Has difficulty with tasks that require copying (taking notes from a board)
- Reverses or misreads letters, numbers and words
- Bumps into things
- Has difficulty writing within lines or margins
- Has trouble spelling familiar words with irregular spelling patterns
- Can’t remember phone numbers
- Has poor reading comprehension when reading silently
- Can’t remember even basic facts that were read silently
- Skips words or entire lines when reading, or reads the same sentence over
- Complains of eye strain or frequently rubs eyes
- Has below-average reading comprehension and writing skills, despite strong oral comprehension and verbal skills
- Has weak math skills; frequently ignores function signs, omits steps, and confuses visually similar formulas
- Routinely fails to observe or recognize changes in bulletin board displays, signs or posted notices
As difficult as it may be for the parent, teacher, pediatrician, or coach to identify, there are many tests designed to help us identify and measure visual processing skills. The tests below are for the typical learning-related vision problems. Different tests may be required for other types of patients, including those with developmental delay, ADHD, Autism, brain injury, sports vision, and more.
TVPS (Test of Visual Perceptual Skills)
- Visual Discrimination
- This lets us see differences between objects that are similar. Good visual discrimination helps keep us from getting confused. For example, when we read, it’s visual discrimination that lets us see that “was” and “saw” are different even though they have the same letters.
- Visual Memory
- Describes the ability to remember for immediate recall the characteristics of a given object or form. If we have trouble inputting information into our short-term memory, we can’t process it into our long-term memory for permanent storage. People with poor visual memory may struggle with reading comprehension. They often subvocalize as they read because they must rely on auditory input to help them compensate. They may have difficulty remembering what a word looks like or fail to recognize the same word on a different page. They may also take longer copying assignments because they can’t retain information long enough to transfer it from the board to their page.
- Spatial Relations
- The ability to perceive relationships of objects positioned in space. Patients who reverse letters are often lacking in this important perceptual skill. Two important considerations in spatial relationships are laterality and directionality. Laterality is the ability to know right from left on oneself. For example, because of laterality, you know which one of your hands to place over your heart when you recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Directionality is the ability to see right and left on other objects. With directionality, you would be able to detect how words appear left to right on a page of text or know the difference between a “b” and “d.”
- Form Constancy
- This is the ability to mentally manipulate forms and visualize the resulting outcomes. This skill also helps you recognize an object in different contexts regardless of changes in size, shape, and orientation. People with poor form constancy may struggle to recognize objects when turned a different direction or viewed from a different vantage point. They can fail to recognize words they know that are presented in a different manner, i.e., written on paper, in a book, or on the board.
- Sequential Memory
- What is your ability to remember visual details, such as a series of forms/numbers/letters/objects in the correct sequence? This is essential for spelling and reading, where you needs to remember the sequence of letters to spell the word correctly.
- Figure Ground
- Is the important but complicated ability to pick out an object within a busy background. If you have poor figure ground skills you can be easily overwhelmed on a page with a lot of words. They simply get lost in detail.
- Visual Closure
- Allows us to visualize a complete “whole” when given incomplete information or a partial picture. This skill helps you read and comprehend quickly so your eyes don’t have to individually read every letter in every word for them to quickly recognize the word by sight. They may also confuse similar objects or words, especially words with close beginning or endings. This skill can also help you recognize inferences and predict outcomes.
Visual Motor Integration (Beery VMI)
Evaluates visually-guided fine motor movements. Identifies significant difficulties in integrating or coordinating visual perceptual and motor (finger and hand movement) abilities.
This test is a sequence of images that an individual is asked to copy from a model, beginning with a simple line and progressing gradually to more complex geometric shapes. This subtest aims to assess how the visual perceptual and fine motor control systems coordinate with one another. In other words, how well does the motor system produce what the visual system is processing?
Assesses the ability to use directionality concepts when writing (executing) and recognizing symbols and to determine the patient’s knowledge of numbers and letters appropriate for their age.
Wold Sentence Copy
Evaluates the ability to copy linguistic symbols accurately and efficiently and to assess the ability to organize written work.
Developmental Eye Movement Test (DEM)
This objectively measures saccadic eye movements and visual-processing speed and how it relates to reading performance. It uses visual-verbal skills to compare speed and accuracy of vertical eye movements to those of horizontal. This can help shed light on problems that are strictly ocular-motor vs those that may also involve areas of visual perception.