Tag Archives: visual processing problem

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.

Philip Nicholson, O.D.

Q&A With Dr. Nicholson: Will my child outgrow vision problems without vision therapy?

Untreated vision problems nearly always last a lifetime. When a child is diagnosed with a vision problem by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care, it is important for that child’s long-term success and self-confidence to receive the best possible treatment. At the Visual Learning Center in Olney, MD, we provide a unique vision therapy treatment program for each patient’s individual needs to ensure optimal improvement and lasting results.

Without vision therapy, unfortunately, your child will most likely not outgrow vision problems, but instead struggle throughout school and eventually learn accommodation techniques to adapt to their environment and meet their needs.

Coping skills appear different, depending on the specific eye movement disorder or visual processing skills deficiency each child has.

For example, your child may use avoidance tactics, such as listening to auditory books rather than having to read text.

If your child has problems with accommodation — changing focus from near to far at will, which is an essential skill for copying notes from a board — he or she may ask for notes from a teacher or classmate.

If your child suffers from frequent eye strain or headaches from looking at material at near-point, he or she will learn to take a visual break and allow eyes to rest every few minutes. Head tilting, squinting, or moving the paper or book around are also common coping behaviors.

Children are naturally adaptable and resourceful; so many will take the necessary steps to avoid embarrassment and perform at their best. It is also important to remember that if the child is not aware that he has a vision problem, he may not even be conscious of coping behaviors.

While these examples may seem like good solutions for troublesome issues, they are like placing Band-Aids over much more serious underlying problems. Your child will most likely never be able to perform at his or her true potential when these detours slow them down; and when it comes to academic performance, what parent does not want their child to achieve their best?

Take a look at our vision therapy success stories to learn more about how vision therapy can lead to significant and lasting improvement in a relatively short period of intensive treatment.

If you suspect your child might have a vision problem that would benefit from vision therapy, and you are in the Olney, MD area, convenient to Silver Spring, MD, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

 

dyslexia or vision problem

Is it Dyslexia or a Visual Processing Problem?

When you notice your child reversing letters or words, your initial suspicion might be that your child has dyslexia. The truth is, reversing letters is common when children are first learning to read and write. If you notice letter reversals in Kindergarten or first grade, there is no reason to be concerned, because reversing letters, confusing left with right, and mixing up words are normal behaviors in the learning and development process. If a child continues to reverse letters and struggle with reading in second grade and beyond, it is time to start paying closer attention to other signs and symptoms.

If you suspect dyslexia, have your child evaluated by a reading specialist and your family doctor, who may refer you to a cognitive psychologist or another professional for testing. There is not one simple test to diagnose dyslexia, but instead a series of comprehensive evaluations and the systematic elimination of other problems.

Visual processing skills deficiencies and oculomotor disorders are sometimes overlooked, because awareness about how closely their symptoms overlap with dyslexia is not as widespread as it should be.

Determining whether your child has dyslexia or a vision problem is critical for your child’s well-being. Dyslexia cannot be cured, though many learn to cope with it well and succeed; however, learning-related vision deficiencies that have symptoms similar to dyslexia can be treated and even eliminated by developing skills through an individualized intensive vision therapy program.

Only an optometrist trained in developmental vision care can diagnose a learning-related vision problem through a comprehensive functional vision exam.

In both dyslexia and learning-related visual processing problems, children:

  • May confuse left with right, while dyslexics might also be ambidextrous and just as often confuse over with under.
  • Have difficulty with writing and messy handwriting; dyslexics may also grip their pencil in an unusual way and tend to have illegible writing.
  • Have problems with depth perception and peripheral vision; but dyslexics are also known to have keen and observant vision skills.
  • Tend to have trouble reading with little comprehension.
  • Transpose, omit, substitute, and reverse words and letters when reading and writing.
  • Have difficulty staying on task, paying attention, zoning out, and daydreaming.
  • Complain of dizziness, clumsiness, nausea, and headaches while reading, playing sports, or while doing fine-motor visual tasks.
  • Seem bright, articulate, and may have a high IQ, but they are unable to read, write, spell, or perform on standardized tests on grade level; those with vision problems will have trouble with other visual tasks that do not involve words or numbers.
  • Tend to be called lazy, careless, or labeled with behavioral problems. Struggle with low self-esteem get emotional about testing and school; dyslexics are known to cope by covering their weaknesses and compensating or distracting with other talents and skills.
  • Learn well through hands-on experiences; dyslexics tend to be helped by being able to observe and use visual aids, but those with visual deficiencies do better with oral coaching.
  • Have difficulty with time — Dyslexics have trouble with sequences and time management; those with vision problems have trouble telling time on a clock dial.

As you can see, the signs and symptoms of dyslexia and learning-related vision problems practically mimic each other, with subtle differences. Even a professional trained to recognize dyslexia may not suspect a vision deficiency without proper awareness.

If you are in the Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD area and suspect your child might have a learning-related vision problem that has similar symptoms to dyslexia, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment.

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.