Visual Information Processing

Visual information processing is the core of learning. Vision is a key component to reading, understanding, thought processing, and organization. Children who have processing difficulties may have trouble in certain subjects such as math (geometry), English language (not everything is spelt the way it sounds). They may also have reversal of letters b d p q, confusion of similar words (was, saw), or trouble reading different or “fancy” fonts. The ability of a child to retain information over an adequate amount of time, difficulty following directions, and getting things (thoughts) down in correct sequence may also be present.

Visual information processing testing assesses how well your eyes and brain communicate on multiple perceptual skills. Seeing “20/20” is important but if your brain is not accurately interpreting the incoming visual information, an individuals learning, memory, or overall processing can experience great difficulty in both the classroom and workplace. Visual perception issues typically occur along with a another functional or binocular vision problem, but also commonly occur in individuals without these disorders. It is also important to note, that while visual processing deficits are commonly found in children they can also be identified in adults, individuals with neurological conditions or post trauma (concussion, stroke etc). Dealing with these kinds of visual deficits can be frustrating or may be discouraging, but it is important to remember this is not a reflection of intelligence, but a weakness in specific skills, that can be strengthened.

During your assessment, these skills will be evaluated using various standardized testing methods to gain a comprehensive view of your unique visual processing ability. Below are various visual perceptual skills outlined with what each skill is responsible for and what signs or symptoms may result if a dysfunction is present.

Visual Discrimination - is the ability to this is the ability of the individual to be aware of the distinctive features of forms (shape, size, orientation or color) from other similar forms. This is shown in an ability to sort or match objects based on these attributes. A deficit here would reflect in confusing similar word beginnings/endings or similar letters (i.e., 3 & E)

Visual Memory - is the ability to retain and recall visual information. Dysfunction would cause prolonged time on copying assignments, difficulty recognizing the same word on the next page, and overall trouble retaining what was seen, and specifically spelling skills.

Visual Sequential Memory - is the ability to perceive or remember a sequence of objects, letters, words and other symbols in the same order as originally seen. Trouble with this skill often contributes to reading and spelling difficulty.

Visual Closure -is the ability to predict what an image will be before all of the information is revealed. This is the ability to ‘fill in’ the missing information and relates to coming to good predictions and conclusions, identifying a partly covered object or the ability to read quickly by skimming across the text. Issues with visual closure also impacts reading and spelling skills for learning or being able to for example, find your keys quickly among other objects.

Spatial Relations - is the ability to perceive the relations of objects in relation to oneself or one-another. This skill involves spatial concepts of front, back, right, left etc and can emanate in poor geometry skills as well as letter reversals.

Visual attention - an individual's active alertness of visual stimuli. This can be seen in a child’s readiness to learn, and in ongoing comfortable attention on the task at hand. This includes both central and peripheral processing. If this skill is an issue a child may be easily distracted by other things going on, which are not pertinent where their attention should be. This can also manifest in an individual getting easily overwhelmed in the presence of too much visual stimuli. Ideally, the brain should be peripherally aware, but able to filter out visual information that is not necessary or should be ignored.

Laterality & Directionality - Laterality and directionality are two, related, visual-spatial skills. Laterality is the ability to tell left from right on yourself. Directionality is the ability to cope with left and right in space such as when navigating with a map, reading and writing from left to right, or lining up numbers in arithmetic problems. These skills also involve the ability to recognize and cross the body’s midline and to use both sides of the body separately. Reversals are a common in similar letters such as b/d, p/q, etc.

Form Constancy - : is the ability to recognize objects as they change size, shape or orientation. This deficit would be in inability to view the same form from different viewpoints, categorize objects, with potential difficulty reading fancy/different fonts. This is a critical skill for emerging readers to recognize letters in both uppercase and lowercase and know the phonetic meaning remains the same.

Visual-motor integration - This is the ability to adequately use vision to guide fine and gross motor movements. This would include your ability to see a ball coming towards you, and adjust your body position to catch the ball. In a classroom environment this would be demonstrated in holding a pen/pencil properly, cutting with scissors, writing on the line, writing from the left to right of the page. As you can see, this is a dynamic process and requires constant adjustments using visual and motor feedback to make accurate movements for almost all daily tasks. Difficulty emanates in poor or "sloppy" handwriting, "clumsy" individuals, poor hand eye coordination ie, sports, frequently bumping into things, and can get worse with fatigue.