Visual Perceptual skills involve the ability to organize and interpret information that is seen and give it meaning. Visual Perceptual Skills can be broken down into the following categories:
- Visual Discrimination is the ability to determine differences or similarities in objects or forms based on size, color, shape, etc. For the tasks of reading and writing, visual discrimination is critical for seeing letters or words as different. Difficulties in this skill area can make “p” look like “q” or “the” look like “then”.
- Form Constancy is the ability to know that a form or shape is the same, even if it has been rotated, made smaller/larger, or observed from up close or far away.
- Form constancy is important for recognizing letters or words in different contexts. For example, a child must know that the word “the” is the same whether they see it written in a book, on a marker board, or in a magazine article.
- Visual Memory is the ability to recall visual traits of a form or object. Visual memory is important for reading comprehension. A child has to remember what they read and recognize a word from one page to the next. Difficulties with this skill can also make copying from a board or book much more challenging. Children with visual memory deficits may take longer to copy an assignment, because they can’t retain the information to transfer it from the board to the paper on their desk.
- Visual Sequential Memory is the ability to recall a sequence of objects or forms in the correct order. Visual sequential memory is very important for spelling. Some children might know the letters in a word, but can’t get their order correct.
- Visual Closure is the ability to recognize a form or object even when the whole picture of it isn’t available. This means you can see a part of something and fill in the rest in your head. Visual closure is important for reading and comprehending what we see quickly. Difficulty with this skill might mean that a child has to study a word or sentence carefully before they know what it is.
- Visual Spatial Relations is the understanding of relationships of objects within the environment. Think of the direction, “Go put your shoes under your desk, and then come stand in front of the water fountain.” The child must understand how to maneuver within their environment by following those spatial commands. Left and right concepts play a big part in this skill, as well. In fine motor terms, visual spatial relations are important for appropriate letter orientation and avoiding reversals.
- Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate something in a cluttered or busy background. A child must be able to sort out visual information in order to find an object, picture, etc. Difficulties with this skill can leave kids lost as they look for specific information on a busy worksheet.
- Visual Motor Integration is the ability to integrate visual input with motor output. Children with poor VMI skills have a difficult time on written assignments and tests, erase excessively, show poor penmanship, and do not do well when copying down information.
Suggested activities for improving visual perceptual/visual motor integration skills:
- I Spy books/activities
- Sorting and Matching activities
- Hidden Pictures
- Complete the unfinished picture
- Concentration/memory games
- Writing on vertical surfaces
- Replicating patterns or drawings on grids
- Copying block designs
- Navigating obstacle courses