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The eye controls your sight through which you can see whatever is around you. The child’s ability to see objects and understand them is also essential. But this happens because of the visual processing ability. What if this ability is get affected? That condition is called visual processing disorder.
Visual processing disorder is a kind of sensory disorder that will occur when your brain fails to interpret sensory information received through the eyes or other senses. In every sensory disorder, your nervous system fails to work properly and loses connection with body parts.
The same thing happens when the brain fails to process visual stimulations. Let’s see everything about a visual processing disorder.
1. What is a Visual Processing Disorder
Visual processing disorder is a kind of sensory processing disorder. It is not related to eyesight. It is completely a different phenomenon, in which the eyes are perfectly fine and but the visual information received on the retina is not processed by the brain. As a result, there is no response observed towards received visual information.
1.1. Causes of Visual Processing Disorder
This disorder is usually observed in children. It might be due to some birth complications or low birth weight. Through research, it is also found that mental trauma is also responsible for causing visual processing issues1.
The brain is part of the central nervous system (CNS) hence it functions to read all the sensory inputs. And in case of visual processing difficulties, your brain loses the ability to read and process visual information.
Visual motor skills get affected due to the inability of the visual details in the brain to receive and process visual information.
Hence, it is clear that any injury to the brain, especially to the visual cortex region leads to visual processing disorders. Still, more research needs to be done in this area to know about the causes of visual processing disorder.
1.2. Symptoms of Visual Processing Disorder
Visual processing disorders mainly affect a child’s visual skills. As a result child experience difficulty in visual perception, visual processing, and visual issues. Due to the visual processing issues this
People with visual processing disorders show the following symptoms;
- Problem with reading similar words
- Not able to differentiate things by seeing
- Having difficulty in reading and writing
- Confuse with similar shapes, letters, and objects
- Blurry vision while reading
- Very low retention ability
- Lack of attention
- Difficulty in learning
2. 8 Types of Visual Processing Disorder
Visual processing disorder affects the child’s visual skills, and it is not restricted to one area. A child with this disorder has different kinds of issues. Based on that visual processing disorder has 8 main types.
Let’s check all eight types of visual processing disorders in detail. This information will clear your understanding regarding visual processing disorders.
2.1. Visual Discrimination Issues
Visual discrimination arises when a child cannot identify letters and differentiate things through visual senses. This problem affects child’s learning.
He/she can’t able to distinguish objects from one another. The most common problem a child experiences is not seeing similarities and differences among objects, colours, patterns, and shapes.
2.2. Visual Figure-Ground Discrimination Issues
Visual figure-ground perception is the ability to concentrate on relevant objects. This ability helps filter out images from its background.
The visual figure-ground discrimination problem results in slow reading, difficulty in sight words, concentrating on books, copying notes from the board, and focusing on relevant visual information.
2.3. Visual Sequencing Issues
Visual sequencing ability helps in arranging visual information in the correct order. With this ability, the child can recall and remember events in proper sequence. If a child has visual sequencing problem then he/she is not able to remember patterns.
A child with this visual processing issue experiences difficulty in solving math problems or equations as he/she does not follow the step in the correct order. It also affects a child’s reading skills. Hence, this type of visual processing disorder results in a poor understanding of maths and reading comprehension.
2.4. Visual Motor Integration Issues
The coordination between eyes and body parts helps in many ways. Through this coordination, a child can perform different motor skills, including writing, drawing, moving from one place to another, holding correct things, and many more.
That’s why visual motor integration is important not only in developing visual motor skills but also in doing daily life activities.
Visual motor processing problem troubles a child with all fine motor skills. Hence children can’t able to perform day-to-day life activities properly by sensing visual stimuli.
2.5. Visual Memory Issues
Visual memory issues are another kind of visual processing disorder that obstruct the learning process. Due to the visual memory problem, a child mainly suffers from two types of memory issues, long or short-term visual memory problems.
A child with this problem is not able to recall and remember words, letters, or numbers even phone numbers. This visual processing issue becomes the biggest barrier to a child’s learning.
2.6. Visual-Spatial Issues
Visual-spatial relationships are the ability to understand the position of objects in space. This ability also develops an understanding of space in relation to oneself.
This type of visual processing disorder causes various difficulties such as reading maps, time, and spacing letters, and words.
2.7. Visual Closure Issues
Visual closure disorder causes an inability to complete any image, pattern, or text. Due to this problem, a child can’t able to identify objects or things if some parts are missing.
This type of visual processing disorder may affect a child’s imagination and higher-order thinking skills2, as a child cannot solve puzzles, complete images, or arrange letters to form words. Hence, visual closure issues may turn into a learning disability.
2.8. Letter and Symbol Reversal Issues
This vision issue is common in many children at a childhood age. A child with this problem experiences lots of trouble while learning letters and the alphabet. Some letters in the English alphabet are reversal and mirror images of each other.
Therefore a child struggles with those letters and reads them wrongly. In this way, this problem may develop poor reading comprehension skills.
3. Diagnosis of Visual Processing Disorders
Diagnosis is a must and important thing to assure about the disorder. Sometimes the symptoms of visual discrimination 3are not enough to reach on conclusion. So it is good to visit a pediatrician or pediatric ophthalmologist when you found your child facing any visual issues.
A pediatric ophthalmologist and a neuropsychologist play a significant role in the diagnosis of any visual processing disorder, but their way of diagnosis is different. A pediatric ophthalmologist performs various eye and vision tests, while a neuropsychologist examines visual issues and their effect on development.
Various types of tests like intelligence, memory, consciousness, and so on are used by a neuropsychologist to diagnose the type of visual processing disorder.
4. Treatment for Visual Processing Disorders
If your child is diagnosed with any visual discrimination issue then the next step is to go for treatment. Here are some common treatments and methods used by neuropsychologists. These techniques and treatments work on the nervous system in such a way that it starts reacting to visual stimuli or visual information.
Any vision training mainly focuses on some specific areas which are visual-motor integration, visual processing speed, and visual memory.
4.1. Vision Therapy
Most widely used treatment for vision issues. An optometrist uses vision therapy to improve a child’s vision problems and visual skills. This is not a one-day therapy, it a weekly or monthly program comprises of various hand-eye coordination exercises.
4.2. Reflex Integration Therapy
Reflex is a reaction to any sensory stimuli. Each reflex is associated with a fixed pattern of movement for sensory stimulation. Every movement by the body is directly linked with integrated reflexes.
Integrated reflex develops motor skills, therefore reflex integration therapy improves coordination and movement issues. This is a kind of sensory-motor development program, that includes different techniques to connect the brain with gentle movements.
Hope this information about visual processing disorder helps you and you got an idea about this disorder. All eight types of visual processing disorders are quite common and observed in many children during their development stage.
If you find your child struggling with visual aids learning then without delay go for a vision test and take the assistance of a pediatrician in this.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Which part of the brain involves in visual processing?
All the visual information and vision senses are processed by the visual cortex part of the occipital lobe, which is part of the primary cerebral cortex region.
Q2. Is visual processing disorder a learning disability?
It affects the learning process as a result a child struggles a lot in learning due to visual processing issues. But it is not quite good to consider it as a learning disability.
Q3. How do you treat a visual processing disorder?
Vision therapy can help a lot in the treatment of visual processing issues. Various eye and brain exercises in vision therapy effectively cure a child’s visual processing abilities.
- Bullier, Jean. “Integrated model of visual processing.” Brain research reviews 36.2-3 (2001): 96-107. ↩︎
- Lewis, Arthur, and David Smith. “Defining higher order thinking.” Theory into practice 32.3 (1993): 131-137. ↩︎
- Benson, D. Frank, and John P. Greenberg. “Visual form agnosia: A specific defect in visual discrimination.” Archives of Neurology 20.1 (1969): 82-89. ↩︎