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What We See Isn’t What We “Get” Are Visual Processing/Perceptual Delays Affecting You?

By Walesby Vision Center

• Learning complications
• Transposing letters and numbers
• Difficulty processing voices in loud crowds
• Daydreaming
• Difficulty comprehending or remembering what was just read
• Asking “what” often
• Struggling to follow directions and conversation

Visual Processing/Perceptual Delays Affecting YouDo you or your child suffer from any of the above-mentioned conditions? You’re not alone.  The term “Vision is More Than 20/20” is becoming more popular this day in age due to the increasing demands that both students and adults face in school and the workplace respectively.  The phrase was derived from the understanding that vision is far more complex than the ability to see a small letter at 20ft.  Vision is a multifaceted process which involves two main steps 1) the proper muscle strength and control, accurate focusing mechanisms similar to a camera, and the proper correction of refractive errors in the form of glasses or contacts. 2) An ability to then make sense or derive meaning from what we are acquiring.  The latter is termed visual processing and while many don’t equate it to vision, it is the essence to why we see.   Let’s take a closer look.

What is Visual Processing?
Visual processing is the process by which the eyes send visual information to the brain for analyzation, manipulation, memorization, and as a whole understanding.  Visual processing can be measured through speed, accuracy, spatial understanding, and the ability to perform multi-processing steps.  Estimates show that approximately 10 percent of the population suffers from a visual processing dysfunction and that 25 percent suffer from some other form of undiagnosed visual problem.  Many of these individuals are diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability, or ADD due to the fact that the symptoms heavily mimic each other.

Early Signs
As with many conditions, early diagnosis and treatment is best.  Here are a few common signs to look for:
• Slow letter and number recognition in Pre-k and Kindergarten
• Inability to recall visually presented tasks
• Poor handwriting including size asymmetry, poor spacing and formation of letters and words
• Frequent reversals (above age-appropriate norms)
• Poor reading comprehension
• Spelling difficulty (especially middle portions of words, tend to get first and last letter correct)
• Difficulty completing work in time allotted
• Reduced math manipulation in the “head”
• Inability to recognize the same word in the next sentence

Diagnosis of visual processing/perceptual dysfunctions can sometimes be challenging due to only a small population of doctors specializing in this field.  Pyschoeducational evaluations will pick up discrepancies between certain sections of the tests and many pyschologists will refer to the proper Developmental Optometrist.  Many individuals, however, go untreated and they suffer years of additional tutoring and specialized one on one intervention while the underlying issue still exists.  Some progress is made but it is typically slow and lengthy in nature.  The benefit to correcting the visual processing dysfunction is that the underlying cause is corrected allowing the individual to begin the steps of learning much more effectively.  Below are some common tests that are utilized to test for visual processing/perceptual dysfunction.

• Number recognition visual processing speed
• Visual Memory
• Visual Discrimination
• Visual Spatial
• Form Constancy
• Visual Sequential Memory
• Figure Ground
• Visual Closure
• Visual Motor Integration with Perception
• Reversal Frequency
• Sentence Copy
• Auditory-visual integration test

Treatment of Visual Processing/Perceptual Dysfunctions
As we stated above, early intervention is always optimal.  Once the proper tests are performed and a diagnosis is made, a customized program of visual processing training is implemented.  The individual will need to strengthen any visual acquistion deficits to ensure that capturing the information is set to “automatic” where no effort is necessary.  Following the correction of the Visual Acquisiton Skills (think motor), they begin to correct the Visual Processing Centers (think visual-cognitive).  The program of training is designed to enhance visual processing accuracy, speed, manipulation, and spatial understanding.  Handwriting improves as a by-product of visual perceptual enhancement and a specialized handwriting program designed to integrate the visual motor system with the visual perceptual system.  Through reinforcement and practice of these newly built skills, progress rapidly accelerates.

Visualization will be heavily worked on to help build imagery while reading.  This will directly assist with reading comprehension and “in the head” math manipulation.  Based upon the level of reading comprehension, a specialized visualizing program may be prescribed to integrate throughout the training.  This will directly tap into the visualization of reading to assist with creating a “movie-like experience” while reading.  We are essentially bringing words to life, which assists in the processing of that information.

If decoding of words is a major concern additional testing in the area of Auditory Processing may be recommended.  Auditory-visual integration disorders can heavily challenge an individuals ability to perform in an academic setting.  The slightest background noise can create excessive challenges

with concentration and focus. The process of blending sounds is extremely challenging due to reduced visual processes and auditory processes.  These children tend to have early ear infections, history of tubes in ears, and a large majority suffer from speech delays or remediation.

Treatment of the above conditions, vary from 6 months to 14 months based upon level of severity.  Almost all treatment plans require 1-2 integration breaks to allow for full integration of the newly emerging skills.  They will then return from break and build upon where they left off.  Following the completion of their treatment program home routines are sent home to reinforce and maintain their skills.

Although, Walesby Vision Center is a specialty clinic, they also perform primary eye care for all ages.  If any of the above conditions sound familiar, please contact Walesby Vision Center today.

Walesby Vision Center


Tampa Office
2510 West Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33614
(813) 915-0755

Lutz Office
24444 State Road 54, Lutz, FL 33559
(813) 345-8544

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