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  • Patricia Cham

Visual Perceptual Skills

What is visual perception?

Are you familiar with the term visual perception? Visual perception refers to the ability of your brain to make sense of what you see! We need visual perceptual skills to recognise faces, letters, colours and numbers, read road signs or maps and locate objects in busy environments.

Good visual perceptual skills are essential to support your child’s engagement in everyday activities such as dressing, eating and playing. It can also help them develop their school skills and achieve academically. These school skills include reading, writing, cutting, drawing, completing homework, solving maths problems and so on.

Types of visual perceptual skills

There are different categories of visual perceptual skills, which includes:

  • Visual Discrimination - the ability to differentiate between objects and forms, and identify the similarities and differences between different shapes, sizes, colours, objects and patterns.

  • Figure Ground Perception - the ability to filter out unnecessary visual information to enhance focus on relevant visual information, supporting us to locate visual information in busy backgrounds or environments.

  • Form Constancy - the ability to successfully identify or label an object correctly even when its orientation, colour, form, shape, size, position are different.

  • Visual Closure - the ability to determine what an object or word is even when they are partially visible.

  • Visual Memory - the ability to recall the visual details that the eyes have seen.

  • Visual Sequential Memory - the ability to remember and recall the correct sequence of objects or events.

  • Visual Spatial Relations - the ability to perceive the position of two or more objects in relation to space and understand their relationship within the environment.

  • Visual Motor Integration - the ability to perceive and interpret visual information and respond with a motor action.

  • Visual Tracking Skills - the ability to control eye movements by maintaining focus on an object that moves across the visual field or switching focus between two objects.

  • Visual Focus - the ability to see objects clearly, especially when they are up close.

Signs of visual perceptual delay

Children with poor visual perceptual skills do not only find it challenging to perform everyday activities but also struggle academically. They might find difficulties in reading and writing as it takes lots of cognitive effort and time, hence, slowing down their learning process and impacting their academic performance. A few examples of visual perceptual difficulties includes:

  • Reversing their letters when they write

  • Difficulties completing drawings that are half finished

  • Challenges locating objects or items in contrasting backgrounds

  • Poor spatial awareness and challenges discriminating between left and right

  • Challenges with matching their socks and shoes

  • Challenges with completing puzzles, mazes, dots to dots or tracing

  • Challenges with filling up drawings with colours or colouring within lines

  • Matching objects

Your occupational therapist can use standardised assessments like the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (Beery VMI). The test helps to track the development of your child's visual and motor abilities and look into visual motor integration, visual perception and motor coordination.

What are some of the strategies that can help develop and improve visual perceptual skills?

  • GAMES and TOYS!

Every child loves their games and toys and there are lots of them that can support your child in developing and improving their visual perceptual skills! These include hidden pictures games, puzzles, memory games, Legos and more!

  • Wikki Stix

One of our favourite resources at the clinic is Wikki Stix! Wikki Stix does not only help with their visual perceptual skills through tracing, letter or shape formation, but your child can also use their imagination and creativity to create anything they want with the Stix. It also provides tactile input that lots of kids would enjoy, which supports regulation.

Image from My Diffability Australia

  • Worksheets

There are lots of worksheets out there that can help with visual perceptual skills, including complete the drawing, dots-to-dots, tracing, mazes, colouring, and so on! It also helps to develop pencil control and manual dexterity, which are essential writing skills to complete school tasks smoothly.

  • Removing distractions and decluttering

If your child has challenges locating objects or belongings from messy desks or rooms, it would be best to work with the child in decluttering their desk and room to remove distractions and keep everything tidy. Besides, organising their belongings into designated boxes or containers that are clearly labelled can make it easier for them to locate their belongings. Within the classroom environment, the child can be seated at the front row to reduce visual distractions.

Please speak to your occupational therapist if you believe that your child is experiencing challenges with visual perceptual skills or if you have any other questions in regards to visual perception.


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