Tag Archives: Visualization

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.

Can vision problems affect my child’s life outside of school?

While many vision problems are first suspected in a school setting or learning environment when a child has difficulty with reading, writing, math, or engages in disruptive classroom behavior, vision problems can also significantly affect the child’s life outside of school.

If a child has a visual processing issue, seemingly simple tasks may be more difficult for him than other children. He may struggle to learn how to tie his shoes, match his socks, or follow demonstrated instructions. You might notice that he has trouble remembering his own address, phone number, or retelling stories about something he watched on television or experienced.

Vision problems also affect social interaction. Your child might appear awkward, clumsy, or other children may complain that he is invading their personal space, because he has trouble with spatial and body awareness and depth perception. The other children might treat him differently because he has developed coping habits, such as constantly rubbing his eyes, squinting, or tilting his head, or because he often complains of headaches or nausea. He may become distracted while talking or ignore the rhythm of a conversation and other social cues. Children or other parents might unfairly judge this behavior as unmannerly or inconsiderate.

In addition to learning difficulties, vision problems can affect physical activity as well. A child with an untreated vision problem may perform poorly in sports due to clumsiness, poor hand-eye coordination, inability to focus, or skewed depth perception. They may be picked last for teams; or the the other children may leave them out of games or tease them.

At home, a child’s untreated vision problems may contribute to stress in the household. Homework can consume hours of family time. Parents often become frustrated or angry with a child if he keeps getting in trouble at school or ‘acting out’ with friends or siblings. Particularly if parents did well in school or sports, they may not be able to relate to their child’s struggles and suspect that their child is not trying or that he’s just ‘bad.’

Dealing with difficulty in school, awkwardness in social settings, poor performance in physical activities, and strained relationships with parents is a lot for a child to handle. While children with other learning disabilities may excel in sports or sociability, vision problems interfere more often beyond the classroom. Falling behind academically and being treated differently by peers and adults can lead to low self-esteem and withdrawal.

Fortunately, a personalized vision therapy program treats visual processing problems. Vision therapy, also known as vision training, is likely to significantly improve performance in academic, athletic, and social settings. In fact, one of the first benefits of vision therapy parents often report is that their child’s self-esteem improves dramatically shortly after starting a vision therapy program.

Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center treats visual processing problems with individualized vision therapy programs in our Olney, MD office, convenient to Silver Spring. Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive exam and consultation.

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.