Tag Archives: letter reversals

children with visual discrimination problems

Poor visual discrimination skills are often mistaken for symptoms of dyslexia

The Visual Learning Center offers 
developmental optometry & vision therapy
near Silver Spring, Maryland in Olney.

Does your child struggle with reading? Have you noticed your child reversing letters? If so, you and your child’s teachers may suspect dyslexia. However, an undetected vision problem that can be treated with vision therapy could actually be to blame for letter reversals and other common learning problems.

Download our free guide: “10 Things You Need to Know About Vision” here.

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that causes difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling. Reversing letters is one of the most familiar tell-tale signs of dyslexia, but letter reversals are common among children with treatable vision problems too.

People with dyslexia learn differently, and while they are often able to adapt and overcome the challenges they face, it is a condition that can’t be reversed.

Visual discrimination is a perceptual process involving our ability to correctly identify distinctive features of a visual stimulus, such as text. Visual discrimination skills enable a child to see and identify size, color, shape, and orientation.

Poor visual discrimination skills cause a child to have difficulty with directionality or laterality. With poor directionality or laterality skills, a child is unable to distinguish left from right on themselves, which causes them to have trouble distinguishing left from right on other objects, including letters and numbers.

For example, they will confuse b with d or q with p. They may also confuse b with p or d with q.

You will notice young children having trouble determining left from right, which is a normal phase of learning; but by the time a child reaches second grade, this skill should be fully developed. For those of us with a normal healthy visual processing system, this skill develops early and naturally. So if the child continues to confuse directions and reverse letters beyond second grade, they may need to undergo vision therapy to further develop the skill.

When visual discrimination isn’t functioning properly, similar letters and words will continue to be confused. In addition to directionality, they may confuse words that appear similar, such as “want” and “what.”

Without addressing this problem, deficient visual discrimination functions can be a lifelong challenge.

The good news is, unlike dyslexia and other learning disabilities, poor visual discrimination skills can be treated and improved significantly in a short period of time with vision therapy. Vision Therapy is a treatment program that includes exercises and procedures that are designed to enhance a child’s ability to control eye movement and visual processing.

View demonstrations of vision therapy exercises to improve visual discrimination skills here.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

If you suspect that your child might have a problem with visual discrimination, contact your nearest developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care for a comprehensive vision exam.

For vision therapy in Silver Spring or Olney, Maryland, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule a comprehensive vision exam today.

Reading Problems in Children

How to Tell if Reading Problems in Children are Caused by Undetected Vision Problems

Getting to the bottom of what’s causing reading problems in children can be challenging. Parents and teachers often turn to the usual suspects: Is it a developmental disorder? Dyslexia? A learning disability? An attention deficiency?

Even reading specialists, counselors, and occupational therapists rarely suspect a vision problem to account for reading problems in children. If a student has passed a vision screening at school or with a family eye doctor, most educational professionals are trained to believe 20/20 eyesight rules out the possibility that a vision problem could be to blame for reading difficulties.

A typical eye exam only tests for clear vision at a set distance for a short period of time. But reading requires close, focused eyesight for a sustained period of time, smooth and coordinated eye movement, and the efficient processing of information through the visual system.

If this is news to you and you thought a typical eye exam eliminated the need for more testing, you’re not alone. There is simply a lack of awareness that reading problems in children are sometimes caused by undiagnosed vision disorders.

But unlike dyslexia or learning disabilities, which children can learn to cope with but cannot be cured, many learning-related vision problems can be treated successfully with vision therapy.

Signs that reading problems in children are caused by a functional vision problem include:

Frequent headaches:

If your child has difficulty reading and also frequently complains of headaches from reading, the headaches could be caused by strain due to vision problems, such as convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, or poor visual processing skills.

Dizziness while reading:

If your child struggles with reading and also complains of dizziness while reading, this could be due to accommodative dysfunction, eye tracking problems, or poor convergence or divergence skills.

Reversing letters:

If your child has trouble reading and also reverses letters when writing, it might not be dyslexia. Children with visual processing problems commonly confuse their left with their right.

Messy handwriting:

If reading is a problem for your child and your child also has messy handwriting with crooked or poorly spaced letters and words and an unusual pencil grip, this might indicate an eye tracking or eye teaming problem.

Symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD):

If your child reads below grade level and also seems distracted, restless, has trouble staying on task, or causes disruption in class, it might not be what you think. These behaviors that mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) may be due to frustration caused by vision deficiencies.

Difficulty copying from the board:

Does your child struggle to read and also seem to have trouble copying from the board, despite 20/20 eyesight? Copying from the board at school is particularly difficult for children with accommodative dysfunction, oculomotor deficiency, poor eye teaming, or visual processing problems.

Trouble with watching 3-D movies:

If your child can’t read well and also has trouble watching 3-D movies, this could indicate a potential vision problem.  To properly see 3D effects in movies, strong binocular vision is necessary. If your child has poor binocular vision with amblyopia or lazy eye, the effects will not be visible or may cause motion sickness.

These are only few of many possible symptoms that could indicate that a child’s reading problem is related to a vision problem

Click here for 9 signs your child may have an undiagnosed vision problem.

To learn more about how vision affects learning, watch our free pre-recorded webinar here.

The only real way to determine if reading problems in children are caused by a visual deficiency or disorder is to schedule a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

If your child is diagnosed with a learning-related vision problem, it can be treated successfully within a short period of time with an intensive individualized vision therapy program.

To schedule a vision exam and consultation with a developmental optometrist, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center. Services include vision training or vision therapy in Olney, MD, near Silver Spring.

letter reversals

Letter Reversals: Is it dyslexia or something else?

 

When parents notice a child reversing letters, they often suspect that the child could potentially have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that causes difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling.

Writing letters in reverse is one of the most well-known and recognizable signs that a child may have dyslexia. So when a child is experiencing difficulty learning to read and also reverses letters, it’s reasonable to speculate that dyslexia could be to blame.

However, many parents and educators are unaware that letter reversals are also a common symptom of vision problems, such as eye movement disorders and visual processing deficiencies.

Click here to learn more about how vision problems interfere with learning.

If you notice that your preschooler through first grader is reversing letters, there’s no reason to be concerned. When a child is learning to read and write, confusing left with right and writing letters backwards is a perfectly normal part of the early development process. But if you notice that your child is still reversing letters in second grade and beyond, it’s time for a proper evaluation — a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care and vision therapy.

Typical vision screenings do not test for the learning-related vision problems that have similar symptoms to dyslexia. An exam by your family eye doctor usually only evaluates clarity of vision at a distance. So it is important to note that children with 20/20 eyesight may also have a vision disorder.

In addition to reversing letters, children with learning-related vision problems face many of the same challenges as children with dyslexia. They may confuse left with right and transpose words, have messy handwriting, experience and experience difficulty with peripheral vision and depth perception. Many struggle with reading comprehension. Some also have trouble staying on task and paying attention.

transposing letters and letter reversals

 

There are subtle differences between the symptoms of some vision disorders and dyslexia. Even a professional trained to recognize dyslexia may not suspect a vision deficiency without specific awareness.

Whereas dyslexia is a lifelong learning disability that many people learn to cope with successfully, functional vision problems can be treated and overcome. That’s why if you suspect dyslexia, it would be in your child’s best interest to rule out a functional vision problem that can be treated successfully with vision therapy.

To be clear, vision therapy does not cure dyslexia, but learning-related vision deficiencies that have symptoms similar to dyslexia can be improved and even eliminated by vision therapy. 

See our vision therapy success stories.

This video demonstrates a vision therapy activity that can improve letter reversals in children with vision problems:

Click here to learn more about this vision therapy activity.

To schedule a comprehensive functional vision exam and to learn more about vision therapy in Olney Maryland or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center.

visual memory disorder

Visual Memory: Why Do Some Children Struggle to Remember Something They Just Learned?

Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar?

  • Your son studied for his spelling test. You drilled and quizzed him the night before, and he seemed to know his words; but his grade was much lower than you expected. He’s a smart kid, but his poor spelling is an ongoing challenge.
  • Your daughter learned to read a new word on page 5 of her book; but by page 25, she doesn’t even recognize the same word and struggles to read it all over again.
  • Your child can’t seem to remember his own phone number or address. He forgets details he’s read and can’t recall the order of events. You’re frustrated that he keeps forgetting things, and you’re starting to wonder if he’s ignoring important information out of carelessness.
  • Your kid has difficulty using a keyboard or calculator. Kids these days are whizzes at typing and texting, but she slowly hunts for each letter, number, and character.

Each of these behaviors could possibly indicate that your child has a visual processing problem — specifically, a visual memory disorder.

Visual memory is the ability to look at something, create a mental image for that thing, and hold that picture in your mind for later recall and use. In learning to read, a child must look at a word, recognize and recall individual letters and strings of letters, create a mental image for that word and associate it with a meaning, and hold that word picture in mind to see and retrieve later.

For children with strong visual memory skills, this process happens efficiently and without strained effort. If a child has a visual memory deficiency, however, the process is a struggle and affects the ability to learn easily.

Eighty percent of what we learn is visual; so being able to visually picture and remember what we see is a critical component of learning.

Discover more about how vision affects learning by watching this video for parents.

If a child has difficulty processing and storing visual information in his short-term memory, he will not be able to recall that information in his longer-term memory for later use. If he wasn’t able to properly input and store the mental image of his spelling word the night before, he is not going to recall and spell it correctly on his test the following day.

Strong visual memory is a critical skill for word recognition and reading comprehension. You may not have considered this before, but each word has its own unique shape — its own form, which we capture in a mental image — that we must instantaneously recognize while reading.

A student with a healthy visual memory function will be able to learn and recall a new word after being exposed to that word one time, or a few times. A student with a visual memory disorder has to be exposed to a word repeatedly, many times, before retaining it. They’re no less intelligent than their peers; they simply aren’t creating and retaining the mental image due to a skills deficiency.

When we read, we put words and phrases together with visual images to conceptualize meaning. If we can see pictures in our mind and form a clear mental image of what’s taking place in the text as we’re reading, it enables us to comprehend.

Once the visual information is taken in through the eyes, the process of comprehension has only just begun. Next, the brain runs the information through the process of visual perception to extract the information and use it.

Visual memory is what enables a child to recognize and remember letters, words, and their meaning. Recognizing, remembering, and applying information quickly and easily is critical for performance in reading comprehension, and student must have a healthy visual memory for ease of comprehension.

Poor visual memory is also a common cause for letter reversals. A student with a visual memory problem will be more likely than his peers to continue reversing letters, such as b and d or p and q, because they may recall the shape but not the correct laterality or directionality.

A typical routine eye exam will not detect a deficiency in visual memory. If you suspect a visual memory problem, schedule a comprehensive functional vision exam with an optometrist who specializes in functional or developmental vision care is trained to test for a visual memory.

Without well-developed visual memory skills children will struggle to learn. The good news is an individualized vision therapy program can improve visual memory skills significantly. In vision therapy, children complete activities created to enhance their memory so they can recall the visual information they take in more readily. Click here for vision therapy success stories.

If your family is located in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr, Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule a comprehensive vision exam today.

What Your Child’s Handwriting Could Reveal About Struggles With Reading

Many children struggle to read because of an undiagnosed vision problem. These children are often bright and may have passed a vision screening with 20/20 eyesight; so it is not always readily apparent that a vision deficiency is to blame for difficulty reading. Most parents and educators are simply unaware that vision is so critical to learning and that healthy vision is comprised of so much more than being able to pass a typical eye exam.

Sometimes parents and teachers attribute reading and learning difficulties to laziness, behavior problems, or attention deficits. You may notice that your child is skipping words or lines or seeming to bounce around the text; so you might assume that he or she is distracted, being careless, or not trying hard enough.

The truth is, a child with learning-related vision problems often becomes frustrated. Every effort to complete tasks, such as reading and writing that comes more naturally and easily to their classmates with healthy normal vision systems requires extra effort and strain. Because they are young and unaware that a problem exists, they are unable to articulate what they are experience and their self-esteem often suffers.

More often than not, your child will not be able to tell you that he’s experiencing a vision problem, because he has no way of knowing his experience isn’t normal. Your family eye doctor doesn’t usually detect a problem, because he is only trained to test for specific eye conditions. Teachers, occupational therapists, and other professionals are all-too-often simply uninformed about learning-related vision deficiencies.

So how can you know if a vision problem could be to blame for your child’s reading and learning difficulties and trouble in school?

Click here for 9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem

Poor handwriting skills could be a sign that your child is struggling with a functional vision problem.

Exceptionally messy handwriting with crooked or poorly-spaced letters or words could indicate an undetected functional vision deficiency that is interfering with your child’s ability to read and learn.

Misaligned words or letters in your child’s handwriting could be a clue that your child is struggling with poor eye teaming or eye tracking — functions crucial to following text on a page without strain.

If your child’s letters are big and sloppy, this might be due to avoiding using the visual system as much as possible while writing. They may avoid looking directly at the paper and scribble words on the page while barely looking.

Conversely, a child with vision problem may have tiny handwriting. If they struggle with visual-motor function, they may make an extra-concentrated effort to control their hand using minimal movement, and the result is unusually small handwriting.

Another indication way handwriting may indicate a learning-related vision problem is that your child’s handwriting may become increasingly messy over time. She may start off her homework with relatively neat writing, but 15 minutes later, you can barely make out what she’s written. This is because a child with a functional vision deficiency is constantly struggling to keep the eyes turned, focused, and moving smoothly from left to right. So the strain quickly leads to fatigue that becomes apparent in declining handwriting.

You may also notice that your child reverses letters, such as ‘p’ and ‘q’ or ‘b’ and ‘d’ when writing. Often confused with dyslexia, a learning-related vision problem may be interfering with the visual processing system and cause affected children to reverse letters.

To be clear, messy handwriting or writing errors are not always a sign that a child has a vision problem. But if your bright child is struggling with reading and you’re not sure why, it’s time to start looking for some answers. If you’re aware and you look carefully enough, you may start to see some of the telltale signs, such as the handwriting clues we’ve outlined here.

Handwriting problems may arise if a child has a problem with visual dominance due to amblyopia (lazy eye), deficient eye movement skills, or poor visualization skills, among other possible problems — all of which affect reading and learning as well.

The good news is, vision therapy can help, and your child can experience a significant improvement in a relatively short period of time. A child can learn to strengthen eye movement skills, look ahead to where the pencil is going, point and focus eyes in the right place, incorporate peripheral vision, and more.  Vision therapy that improves handwriting will also improve learning. 

If you suspect your child has a learning-related vision problem, schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

To learn more about how vision affects learning, download our free guide here, and watch our webinar for parents here.

If you live in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule a comprehensive vision exam today.

Click here to learn more about why your child loses his place while reading. To learn more about how vision problems interfere with reading comprehension, click here. To find more information about how vision therapy will help your child with reading, go here.

What Parents Need to Know About How Vision Problems Interfere with Learning (Even if a Child Has 20/20 Eyesight)

Did you know that your child could have 20/20 eyesight yet still have a vision problem that significantly interferes with his or her ability to learn? It’s true, and it’s more common than most parents, teachers, child-development professionals, or even family eye doctors are aware.

Vision is comprised of three main components — reception, processing, and output; and each of these main components of vision are complex.

  • Reception is the ability to see clearly, singularly, and comfortably. It’s the input function, similar to entering data into a computer.
  • Visual Processing is the brain’s ability to determine and compute the information our eyes receive. After the computer gets the data, it manipulates, categorizes, and runs it through various processes.
  • Output is the result of visual processing.

If any aspect of the complex vision system is not functioning in a normal and healthy way, the ability to learn can be impacted significantly.

Click here to read 9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem

Reception

Your child’s vision exam typically only covers the ability to see letters on a chart clearly and singularly for a few seconds.

However, there is a third component of reception that is also important, but isn’t tested by many doctors— the ability to see comfortably. For example, if you hold a pen within inches of your nose, you may be able to see clearly and singularly. But for how long?

Seeing the pen singularly and clearly for just a few seconds does not mean that your eyes can work properly and without strain for longer periods. For instance, you may be able to lift a chair with one hand for a few seconds, but does that mean you can hold it at that height for thirty minutes? No.

Likewise, many children who can look at the tip of their nose cannot maintain clear, single vision at near for more than a few minutes. And those children who can’t, feel strained, tired, or fatigued when reading. They may rub their eyes, blink, or close or cover one eye to avoid using them both. And often, they will try to avoid the activities that make them feel uncomfortable.

Watch for signs of strain and discomfort in your child as he or she reads, works on a computer, or writes, because these problems can affect learning.

Visual Processing

Typical vision exams do not test for visual processing skills. Normal visual processing requires a complex system of neurological activity to be developed and functioning properly.

For example, visual processing speed and accuracy involves reading words, sentences, and numbers quickly and accurately. Selective concentration within visual processing requires a child to stay on a visual task, even with distractions present. Visual memory is an aspect of visual processing that refers to the ability to accurately remember what is only seen for a short period of time. Visualization is the process of creating a mental picture in the mind that is used to solve a problem.

Many children lack good visual processing skills. Because of a delay in development or disorder, their vision system has trouble computing visual input. They can’t make sense of what they see as easily as their peers who have a properly functioning vision system.

Consequently, visual processing problems may cause their performance of everyday tasks such as reading, memorizing, and studying tends to be slower than normal, and their abilities in these areas can fall below average.

Output

Output is the ability to take the gathered and processed information, and make an appropriate response or action. For example, the output may be the creation of a mental image, an oral or written response, or a gesture.

A child who tends to make more errors than average to complete a task, and/or uses an excessive amount of energy to handle visual information, could be revealing deficient visual processing skills in their output. Often, but not always, the symptoms of a vision problem become apparent in the output.

A child who makes more reversal errors than average may have underlying visual processing problems in the areas of visual memory, discrimination, visualization, laterality, and association skills. Poor visual-motor integration could be the cause of messy handwriting.

Vision Therapy Can Help

At the Visual Learning Center in Olney, Maryland, our vision training program is concerned with all three components of vision (reception, processing and output). But we concentrate on visual processing skills most because they are so vital to effective learning.

No one knows the full reason why some children have a greater difficulty with visual processing skills — it’s part hereditary, part environment, and part education-based.

The important thing to note is that, though vision problems can interfere with learning, visual processing skills are learned skills that can be improved. Comprehensive functional vision exams and testing can pinpoint which visual processing skills are most deficient, so that an individualized vision therapy program can focus on specific areas.

By concentrating on and correcting specific problem areas in your child’s visual processing system, vision therapy can eliminate many of the underlying causes of learning difficulties. The symptoms a child with vision problems experience, such as discomfort, poor memory, poor concentration and comprehension, toiling over simple tasks, and avoiding complicated tasks, can improve significantly in a relatively short amount of time or even disappear altogether.

To learn more about how vision affects learning, download our free guide here, and watch our webinar for parents here.

If suspect that an undetected vision problem is interfering with your child’s ability to learn effectively, schedule an exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care right away.

If your family lives in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact us at Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment.

Vision Therapy Exercise: Stickman Activity Packet

When a child has difficulty with reading, concentrating, confusing their left and right sides, or reversing letters, their challenges may indicate an undiagnosed vision problem. He or she could be struggling with eye movement skills or visual processing skills due to an underdeveloped ability to move or coordinate their eye muscles or an inability to process visual information through the brain efficiently.

A functional vision exam by an optometrist who specializes in developmental vision care can either rule out or diagnose a learning-related vision problem. If a child is found to have a vision problem that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, a comprehensive, individualized vision therapy program often leads to significant improvement in a relatively short amount of time.

Eye movement skills or visual processing skills can be trained and developed through practicing a prescribed set of activities that a child will undergo with the guidance of a trained vision therapist. At the Visual Learning Center in Olney, MD, we suggest students supplement their in-office therapy with practice at home.

The Stickman Activity is one such exercise, designed to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills. Working through and practicing this activity can improve the following skills:

  • Laterality and directionality — required for writing and recognizing orientation and direction
  • Figure ground — required to distinguish an image relative to its background or context
  • Visual concentration – required to fixate attention long enough to complete tasks and for comprehension

The vision therapy stickman activity is simple but effective. The person doing the activity is instructed to view a sheet that contains simple drawings of a figure wearing one glove or shoe, then say which hand is wearing the glove or which foot has a shoe on it. The goal is to first reach accuracy, then enhance difficulty by increasing speed or including rhythm elements.

Download your activity packet here.

Watch the video below for a demonstration:

 

Vision Therapy Exercise: Letter Tracking Activity

You may notice that your child is skipping letters or words when reading. You might obseve that your child can not distinctly identify the left or right side of his body, or be able to recognize direction applied to objects and symbols such as letters. You may see him flipping or reversing letters when writing, or recognize that he is unable to distinguish ‘p’ from ‘q’ or ‘b’ from ‘d’ while reading. If so, it’s possible that your child has a visual processing problem, such as poor visual discrimination.

Visual discrimination is a perceptual process that involves the ability to correctly identify basic features of a visual stimulus, such as text. Discrimination allows us to see and identify shape, size, orientation, and color.

Weakness in the area of visual discrimination leads to skipping letters or words when reading, or poor laterality and directionality. Laterality and directionality are skills required to write and recognize words with the correct orientation, or direction.

A visual processing problem, such as poor visual discrimination can be identified through a comprehensive functional vision exam, by a trained developmental optometrist.

Once a child is diagnosed with a visual processing problem, fortunately, an individualized vision therapy program will likely lead to significant improvement quickly. (Click here to view vision therapy success stories.)

In addition to in-office vision therapy, Dr. Philip Nicholson of the Visual Learning Center in Olney, MD, also recommends supplemental vision therapy activities that can be done at home.

One example of a vision therapy activity that can be practiced outside of the office is letter tracking. Letter tracking activities are designed to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills, such as discrimination.

The vision therapy letter tracking activity involves drawing a continuous line, looping and circling letters of the alphabet, in sequential order, as directed. Patients first strive for accuracy, and then progress toward greater speed while maintaining accuracy. If the patient skips letters, he will find that the activity cannot be completed, and he can start again. This activity is useful to improve visual discrimination and reduce the errors that occur in reading, writing, and other activities due to poor visual discrimination.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of letter tracking and download a letter tracking packet here.

Should you wish to learn more about this vision therapy activity for visual discrimination improvement or schedule an appointment with Visual Learning Center in Olney, Maryland, contact us today at (301) 570-4611.

How Vision Problems Interfere with Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension refers to a child’s ability to not only read the text on a page, but also process it and understand its meaning.

For a child to develop reading comprehension, the entire visual processing system must work efficiently. Seeing the text clearly is only the first step in the process. Your child must know how to sound out a word or remember a word on sight, understand each word’s meaning, and then make sense of sentences and paragraphs.

Intelligence is one factor in reading comprehension, but there are many more factors that come into play in a child’s ability to both read and comprehend. Some bright children have difficulty with reading comprehension due to problems with their visual processing system.

In order to read, we take in visual information in the form of text and then decode it into mental images to which we assign meaning, and then retain and use those images to categorize and recall for future use.

Taking in visual information efficiently requires the coordination of hundreds of eye muscles and strong oculomotor control. If there is a weakness or deficiency, this can affect a child’s ability to focus both eyes on the same spot simultaneously or to move their eyes smoothly as a team across a line of text. Poor eye tracking,  eye teaming, or focus leads to difficulty and frustration for a child, and the extra effort to take in visual information may cause fatigue, headaches, or the inability to maintain attention.

Once the visual information is taken in through the eyes, the process of comprehension has only just begun.  Next up, a child’s brain will have to run the information through the process of visual perception, meaning they will have to be able to extract the information they see and use it appropriately.

Efficient visual perception is needed for a child to recognize and remember letters, words, and their meaning. If a child has a deficiency related to visual perception, he will struggle with minor differences in similar words or letters. This may lead to confusing p with q or d with b, for example; or it may also mean conflating words with similar beginnings, reading words backwards, or having difficulty distinguishing the main idea of a story from a minor detail. Recognizing, remembering, and applying information quickly and easily is critical for performance in reading comprehension, and student must have a healthy vision system to do so.

The following are specific ways visual perceptual processing may interfere with reading comprehension:

Visual Spatial Skills and Visual Discrimination are required to organize visual space and understand directional concepts and orientation. A child with poor visual spatial and discrimination skills may process a letter or word backwards.

Visualization is the ability to create a mental image in one’s mind, which is important for processing and remembering information for comprehension. When someone says, “I see what you mean,” we think of this a an idiom, but when it comes to reading and visual processing, we really are creating mental images that help us to comprehend. We’re essentially seeing something in our mind.

Visual Memory is the ability to retain information that you have learned. A child must be able to recognize and remember a word from one page, assignment, and day to the next. He must create an image of that word or set of words in his mind and recall it as needed.

Visual Sequential Memory refers to the ability to remember the proper sequence of words, letters, or story narrative, in the same order it was seen originally. Keeping the images of what they recall in order is of course critical to comprehension.

So, as you can see, the ability to comprehend is not simply a function of intelligence.

If a child is having difficulty moving and coordinating his eye muscles properly and then the child also has difficulty processing that information visually in his brain, he is going to perform poorly in the area of reading comprehension as a result.

If a student has a visual processing problem, reading comprehension can be improved significantly and relatively quickly with an individualized comprehensive vision therapy plan. If you suspect your child has a learning-related vision problem that interferes with reading comprehension, contact a developmental optometrist for a functional vision exam and vision therapy program.

If you are in the Olney. Maryland area, convenient to Silver Spring, schedule an appointment with Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center today.

Vision Therapy Exercise: Discrimination Orientation Arrows Activity

If your child struggles with determining the correct letter orientation — or reversing letters when writing — due to a visual processing skills deficiency, vision therapy exercises can help.

Discrimination Orientation Arrows (DOA) is a vision therapy activity that develops visual discrimination, which is a skill essential in determining correct letter orientation and preventing letter reversals among students with learning-related vision problems.

In this activity, students work with a sheet of paper that contains a series of arrows, which are pointing in various directions. The vision therapist asks students to look at the sheet and indicate which direction each arrow is pointing, by saying “left” or “right” while the eyes are moving across the page.We encourage students to start slowly and allow for mistakes and self-correction to build their confidence.

This activity seeks to mimic the process of selecting a direction for each letter while writing.  “Should d point right or left? Should b point left or right? Which direction should I write q? Which direction should I write p?”

With practice, the outcome children enjoy is that they begin to catch their mistakes faster, reduce the frequency of errors, and dramatically boost their self-esteem. As the student improves, we incorporate a metronome into the activity and they use the beat to enhance deeper comprehension of discrimination orientation skills, until they become second nature. Soon, they will be writing b, d, q, p, etc. correctly, and with confidence.

Watch this video to see a demonstration of the Discrimination Orientation Arrows activity in progress and download a Discrimination Arrows activity packet here.

 

Should you wish to learn more about this vision therapy activity for letter reversals or schedule an appointment with Visual Learning Center in Olney, Maryland, contact us today at (301) 570-4611.