Visual perception is the ability of the brain to interpret, analyse and give meaning to what is seen. A visual Perceptual Assessment assesses different areas of visual perception and is undertaken at a subsequent visit at Fitzroy North Eye Centre (Flying Fox Children’s Vision Clinic). The purpose of a Visual Perceptual Assessment is to be able to identify these characteristics and to make practical recommendations for parents and teachers of activities and approaches to help with the child’s learning. When a child moves from kindergarten to school, their visual space moves from three dimensional to two dimensional (books, reading, writing). It is essential that visual perceptual skills are well developed so that learning to read is not difficult.
Visual Discrimination: to be able to notice similarities and differences among objects or forms. In reading this is the ability to recognise the same word repeated on a page or noticing the difference between words, eg run/ ran.
Visual Figure Ground: the ability to recognise an object despite other objects or background causing confusion. In reading it is the ability of not becoming confused with too many words on a page.
Visual Memory: the ability to remember the characteristics of an object or form. It is the ability to ‘picture’ something in one’s mind. In reading it is recognising the same word that has been previously read.
Visual Sequential Memory: the ability to forms or characters in a sequence or order. This skill is particularly important with spelling.
Visual Spatial Relations: is the ability to observe similarities and differences among forms or objects. In learning it is related to problem solving and mathematical concepts.
Visual Form Constancy: the ability to manipulate and visualise forms/ pictures. Problems in this area can cause reversals of letters and numbers.
Visual Closure: the ability to visualise a complete whole given part of a picture. This skill is important in reading so that not every letter has to be read. It assist with faster reading and comprehension. A child with difficulty with visual closure may confuse words with similar beginnings or endings.
Visual-Motor Integration: the ability to use and interpret visual space with one’s own body.
Whole body-vision coordination: the ability to know and interpret where we are in space. This enables the two sides of the body to work together and in harmony, utilising space efficiently, being balanced and co-ordinated. Children with difficulties in this area show general ‘clumsiness’ and can have difficulty with balance and bike riding. Laterality (knowledge of right/ left) and directionality (knowledge of right/ left in space)
Fine motor eye hand co-ordination: the efficient use of the body’s fine motor system. Children with poor eye-hand coordination may have poor handwriting and take longer to complete written assignments. They can become frustrated and lose concentration.
Meares-Irlen Syndrome: Some children report perceptual distortions when reading, such as glare, flickering, moving of text etc. This syndrome has caused some controversy and is perhaps better understood as a type of visual distress, rather than a form of language disorder. Some children report benefit with coloured filters, which allow text to be read more fluently and with less discomfort. It is important that this condition is not confused with common focussing problems correctable with conventional reading glasses and eye exercises.