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Visual Processing Problems and Testing

These are problems that interfere with an individual's ability to analyze and interpret visual information.

Types of processing problems include:

  1. Laterality and Directionality

  2. Visual Form Perception

  3. Visual Memory

  4. Visual Motor Integration

Effects of Visual Processing Problems on Learning

Children with visual perceptual problems may be difficult to teach. These problems interfere with efficient learning and may seriously impair an individual's ability to respond to standard instruction.

  • Visual processing problems tend to interfere with performance in the early grades. Even in kindergarten and first grade it becomes apparent that these children are experiencing difficulty.

  • Children with visual perceptual problems may fail to understand and grasp basic concepts and ideas.

Visual Processing Problems

  1. Laterality and Directionality Disorders

    Laterality relates to the internal awareness of the two sides of the body. Directionality refers to projecting this awareness into external space.

    Symptoms of laterality and directionality disorders include:

  • difficulty learning right and left

  • reversing letters and words when writing or copying

  • reading either left to right or right to left

Relationship of Laterality and Directionality Problems to Learning

Poorly developed laterality and directionality may result in significant problems with reversals.

  1. Visual Form Perception Disorders

    This involves the ability to discriminate dominant features in different objects; for example, the ability to discriminate position, shape, and size.

    Symptoms of visual form perception disorders include:

  • confusing likenesses and minor differences

  • mistaking words with similar beginnings

  • difficulty recognizing the same word repeated on the same page

  • difficulty recognizing letters or even simple forms

  • difficulty determining what is significant from what is insignificant

Relationship of Visual Form Perception Problems to Learning

Form perception and discrimination problems may result in the child having difficulty learning the alphabet, word recognition, and basic math concepts of size, magnitude, and position.


  1. Visual Memory Disorders

This is the ability to recall dominant features of a stimulus item or to remember the sequence of several items.

Symptoms of visual memory disorders include:


  • difficulty visualizing what is read

  • showing poor comprehension

  • difficulty learning new material

  • spelling poorly

  • difficulty recalling visually presented material

  • demonstrating difficulty with tasks that require more than one step

  • difficulty understanding mathematical concepts


Relationship of Visual Memory Problems to Learning

Visual memory problems may contribute to poor comprehension, spelling, and sight vocabulary.

   2. Visual Motor Integration Disorders


This relates to the ability to integrate visual discrimination with the eye-hand coordination system to use motor skills to reproduce a pattern from a model.

Symptoms of visual motor integration disorders include:

  • writing or drawing skills seem sloppy

  • spacing letters and words poorly

  • being unable to write on the lines

  • erasing excessively when doing written work

  • responding well orally but being unable to get answers on paper

  • seeming to know material but doing poorly when tested

Relationship of Visual Motor Integration Problems to Learning

Visual motor integration difficulties may manifest in poor written work or unusually long periods of time necessary to complete written assignments.

Visual Processing Testing

The Visual Processing Testing assesses the ability to analyze and interpret visual information. The following is a summary of the skills tested.



Visual-Spatial Skills: These skills allow the individual to develop normal, internal and external spatial concepts, such as right, left, front, back, up, and down. Subskills that are evaluated include bilateral integration, laterality and directionality.

  • Bilateral integration is the ability to be aware of and use both sides of the body separately and simultaneously.

  • Laterality is an important skill that involves the establishment of internal coordinates from which visual-spatial skills can evolve.

  • Directionality is the ability to project this set of internal coordinates into space. Confusion in this skill results in reversal of forms, letters such as “b” and “d” and words such as “on”, “no” and “was” and “saw”.

Visual-Analysis Skills:
These skills contribute to a person being able to analyze and discriminate visually presented information. Sub-skills are visual discrimination, visual figure ground, visual closure, and visual memory and visualization.

  • Visual discrimination is the ability of a person to be aware of the distinctive features of forms, including shape, orientation, size, and color. Visual discrimination, figure ground, and closure problems may result in a person confusing words with similar beginnings or endings or even entire words.

  • Visual memory is a skill enabling a person to obtain and retain maximum information in the shortest possible time for optimal performance. This is essential for reading comprehension and spelling. Dysfunctions may cause prolonged time in copying, difficulty recognizing the same word on the next page, and difficulty retaining what is seen or read.

Visual-Motor Skills:
Good hand-eye coordination is essential for the accurate production of written language. To accurately reproduce a visual stimulus a person must be able to see that the pattern is made up of a finite number of parts and these parts interrelate in a very specific manner. These abilities are referred to “analytical skills”. To reproduce the pattern a person must call upon these analytical skills, integrate this information with other systems, and generate a motor response. Deficiencies in this skill may make the handwriting more difficult, resulting in poor spacing, inability to stay on the line, and excessive erasures. The ability to complete written work within an allotted period of time may also be effected.

There are some people who have an inordinate difficulty learning to read. They are intelligent enough, have been exposed to sound education, and show no problems in seeing, hearing or maintaining emotional control. There are 4 different types of dyslexia. Dysphonesia is where a person has difficulty with phonics. Dyseidesia is difficulty with visual memory and visual perception. Dysnemkinesia is a letter and number reversal problem. Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome is where a person responds to tinted filters such as blue or grey for improved visual comfort. A person can have a combination of these and varying severity.

For example the word "School" may be spelled as follows.

The child has persistent difficulty learning the direction of letters and numbers.

The child seems to quickly forget how to spell words just learned.

The child spells words the way they sound rather than the way they are spelled.

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