Tag Archives: Visual memory

child with visual memory problem

Visual Memory Problems in Children Can Interfere With Learning

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

Visual memory is the ability to look at an object, create a mental image for that object, and hold that picture in your mind for later recall and use. If your visual processing system is functioning as it should, this process happens automatically and without extra effort. However, some people have a visual processing disorder or deficiency that affects their visual memory and can interfere with their ability to read and learn.

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

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

When a child learns to read, they are taught to look at a word, recognize letters and individual strings of letters as words, and then create mental images for the letters and words — each with its own unique shape to which they assign sounds and associate meaning. Then they hold those images in their mind to recall and retrieve for later use. This process happens continuously as a child learns.

When we read, we put words and phrases together with visual images to conceptualize meaning. 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.

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 instantaneously recognize words, imagine a sequence visually, and then comprehend it all.

Imagine how difficult it would be for a child to learn and understand if they lacked the ability to store and recall mental images efficiently. If a child has difficulty processing and storing visual information in their short-term memory, they will have to learn the same information repeatedly and they will progress slowly.

For example, if a child was not able to properly input and store the mental image of his spelling words, that child will struggle to recall the correct string of letters to spell it correctly on a quiz. If a child studies for a test and seems to be prepared the night before, they may not be able to recall the information and recognize the answers at test time.

Signs that your child may have a visual memory problem include:

  • Studying for a test, seeming prepared the night before, and performing much lower than expected.
  • Learning a new word and not recognizing the word a short while later.
  • Difficulty remembering their own phone number or address.
  • Trouble recalling details in a story or the order of events.
  • Struggling to use a keyboard or calculator. Kids these days are whizzes at typing and texting, but your child slowly hunts for each letter, number, and character.
  • 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 student with a healthy visual memory function has the ability to learn and recall a new word after being exposed to that word only one time or a few times. However, if a student has a visual memory disorder they may need to see the word many times repeatedly before they can possibly retain it.

This does not mean the child is less intelligent than their peers. It simply means they are lacking in the ability to create and retain a mental image. It is a skills deficiency that can be improved significantly with vision therapy.

A typical routine eye exam will not detect a deficiency in visual memory. So if you suspect that your child has a visual memory problem, schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care and vision therapy.

Without training in visual memory skills, the child will continue to have difficulty learning. The good news is, with an individualized vision therapy program visual memory skills can be improved. By undergoing vision therapy, the child will complete activities that are created to enhance their memory and develop their ability to recall the visual information they take in more readily.

Click here for vision therapy success stories.

For a comprehensive vision exam and vision therapy in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr, Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.
Register for an upcoming webinar here.

What does it mean to have a visual processing problem?

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

A visual processing problem is a type of perceptual deficiency that hinders a child’s ability to make sense of information that they take in through their eyes. Reading, writing, learning and countless important everyday activities require strong visual processing skills.

Click here to watch a video about vision problems and learning.

To be able to see clearly is just the beginning, and 20-20 vision is not enough. It is the brain, not the eyes, that interprets and applies visual data. A visual processing problem occurs when there is a disruption or inefficiency in the way the brain processes information after the eyes see something.

Vision requires healthy neurological activity and communication between the eyes and the brain within a complex set of mechanisms. A visual processing problem results when this system either hasn’t developed properly or it has been damaged in some way.

Click here to download our free guide, “10 Things You Need to Know About Vision”

When a child has a visual processing disorder, they may see clearly and their eyes may function normally, but they may not have the ability effectively and efficiently interpret, categorize, remember, or associate meaning with the images and information in their brain.

Examples of visual processing problems include difficulty with visualization, visual memory, visual processing speed and accuracy,  visual-motor integration and speed, and more.

Visualization is the process of creating a mental picture in the mind. It’s what occurs when someone says to “picture this” or when you’re reading and you imagine the characters and scene in your mind. This process is fundamental to creating and associating meaning. A child with a visualization problem struggles to create that mental picture, so they are missing an important building block of learning.

Visual memory refers to the ability to accurately remember something you see. We have to remember what letters look like, what words look like, and what letters and words mean from sentence to sentence, from page to page, and from day to day. If there is a problem with visual memory, learning of the same material has to occur again and again.

Visual processing speed and accuracy involves reading words, sentences, and numbers quickly and with few errors. Children with visual processing problems tend to work slowly and make more errors in their work.

Visual-motor integration is the ability to correctly perceive visual information, process it, and move your hands or body accordingly. Visual-motor speed is the ability to efficiently integrate visual skills and motor skills for the purpose of completing a task.

Visual sequencing is the ability to tell the correct order of words, symbols, or images.

Visual figure-ground discrimination enables a child to distinguish a shape or text from the background in which it is situated. Visual discrimination is the ability to recognize the difference between similar objects, shapes, or letters, such as p and q or b and d.

Visual closure is the ability to identify an object from its parts. For example, the child might not be able to identify a car that’s missing its wheels or a word missing letters, which interferes with learning, reading, and spelling.

Visual-spatial processing refers to the ability to tell space or distance of an object, either on paper or physically. It also enables understanding of time and narrative, which factors into comprehension levels.

If your child has a visual processing problem, school, athletics, and even social interaction can be challenging. The good news is visual processing therapy with one-on-one vision training can effectively improve visual processing skills.

Signs of visual processing problems include:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Complaints of tiredness while reading
  • Losing place or skipping words while reading
  • Trouble with math or inability to make progress in math
  • Messy handwriting
  • Difficulty buttoning or zipping clothes or trouble cutting food or using scissors

Read 9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem.

If you suspect your child could have a visual processing disorder, schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

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

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.

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.

child reverses letters while writing at a desk

Common Causes When a Child Reverses Letters

When parents notice a child reversing letters, they often assume that what they are observing is a sign or symptom of dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that causes difficulty in writing, reading, and spelling. Children with dyslexia often reverse letters; however, while letter reversal in writing can be a symptom of dyslexia, this does not mean that every child who reverses letters has dyslexia.

A child may reverse letters in the early stages of learning. As a child begins to practice writing, they will make mistakes or their motor skills might not be well developed yet. Parents and teachers should continue to observe and see if the child makes improvement with guidance and practice.

Children who do not improve letter reversals within the first two years of schooling should be watched more closely and evaluated by a professional. The child could be dyslexic or have another learning disability.

But there is also a another lesser-known cause that could explain the child’s tendency to reverse letters, such as ‘p’ and ‘q’ or ‘b’ and ‘d’ when writing. Learning-related vision problems interfere with the visual processing system and cause affected children to reverse letters. Without detection, diagnosis, and vision therapy, the child will continue to reverse letters and struggle with reading, writing, and spelling.

Research indicates the major causes of letter reversals include the following:

  • Poor visual memory:  the ability to recall a visual image
  • Poor visualization: the ability to create a mental image
  • Poor visual-motor integrations:  the ability of the visual and muscular system to reinforce each other
  • Poor visual association: the ability to link what you see with something you saw, heard, or felt in the past.

If a child is lacking ability or skills in the areas of visual association, integration, visual-motor, and recall skills, he will be more likely than his peers to continue reversing letters when writing. Intensive vision therapy will strengthen visual skills, and with training and practice, letter reversals can be eliminated.

“Parents are often told the child will outgrow it. And this can be true. Continued exposure to letters and numbers will reduce reversals; but if the underlying causes are left untreated, learning will still be slow and school performance will suffer.” – Dr. Philip Nicholson

Without knowing and addressing the cause of letter reversals beyond the initial stages of learning development, a child will not automatically improve.

Assuming the child is dyslexic may not help, unfortunately, because the methods used for helping a dyslexic child learn are different from the methods used to improve visual processing in a child who has learning-related vision problems.

If your child is reversing letters beyond second grade or 8 years of age, we recommend screening for dyslexia and vision problems. Learn more about learning-related vision problems by downloading our free guide here and watching our webinar here.

If you live near Olney, MD, schedule an appointment with the Visual Learning Center for a thorough vision assessment.

What is Visual Processing Therapy?

Unless we have complete vision impairment, we all take information in from our environment through our eyes. However, it is the brain, not the eyes, that processes this visual information. We cannot make sense of what we see with our eyes without the accompanying healthy functioning of the brain and healthy communication between the eyes and brain. Normal visual processing requires a complex system of neurological activity to be developed and functioning properly.

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, 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.

Effective visual processing therapy involves intense one-on-one vision training programs that develop skills vital for fast and efficient learning.

At the Visual Learning Center in Olney, MD, our visual processing therapy program specifically works on areas of processing speed and accuracy, selective concentration, visual memory, letter reversals, visual-motor integration and speed, and visualization.

Visual processing speed and accuracy involves reading words, sentences, and numbers quickly and accurately. Because students with visual processing problems tend to work slowly, vision therapy includes procedures designed to increase the speed with which they are able to process information, with greater precision.

Selective concentration requires a child to stay on a visual task, even with distractions present. During visual processing therapy, the child practices tasks repeatedly while also enduring distractions. This practice trains the visual processing system to improve and become more focused.

Visual memory refers to the ability to accurately remember what is only seen for a short period of time. In visual therapy, children complete activities created to enhance their memory so they can recall the visual information they take in more readily.

When children struggle with letter reversals, they confuse similarly shaped letters such as b, d, p and q. If this is a problem for your child, visual processing therapy will help them better recognize and correctly write the letters they have been reversing.

Another difficulty children with visual processing problems sometimes face is trouble with visual-motor integration and speed. In other words, their eye-hand coordination may be delayed or awkward. Through vision therapy, children’s visual-motor integration can improve significantly, which can improve confidence and performance in sports, physical activities, handwriting and social interaction.

Healthy visual processing also requires the ability to visualize. Visualization is the process of creating a mental picture in the mind that is used to solve a problem. Learning and school performance often requires problem solving, so vision therapy works to improve a child’s ability to visualize.

Visual processing skills are required for learning and functioning normally in everyday life. If your child has problems with visual processing, school, athletics, and even social interaction can be difficult. An intense visual processing therapy program can result in remarkable improvement in the areas of processing speed and accuracy, selective concentration, visual memory, letter reversals, visual-motor integration and speed, or visualization in a relatively short period of time.