What is Visual Perception?
Visual perception calls attention to the brain’s ability to recognize what the eyes see. In other words, it allows us to not just see but understand as well. This is different than acuity, which refers to how clearly a person can see. For instance, someone could have ‘20/20 vision’ but still have difficulty with visual perceptual processing.
Why is it important?
A child needs good visual perception skills in order to do many daily activities, especially during their school day. These activities include but are not limited to: reading, writing, cutting, drawing, completing math problems and puzzles, and getting dressed. If a child does not have the proper visual perception skills, they will have difficulty telling the difference between the letters ‘p’ and ‘q’, determining left from right, or even mentally visualize the relationships they are taught in science.
There are several components to developing visual perception. Components such as visual attention, discrimination, and memory are more basic. These concepts entail focusing on important information, the ability to recognize differences or similarities in objects, and the ability to recall visual information about the said object. Some other components are more complex in their nature. These include visual sequential-memory, visual figure ground, visual closure, and visual form constancy. These concepts encompass the ability to remember the sequence of objects in the correct order, the ability to find something in a busy background, the ability to perceive an object when a piece of it is missing, and the ability to recognize the shape of an object even if it is smaller or larger than before.
What kind of activities can improve visual perception?
Memory games are a great resource for improving visual perception. An example is the matching memory game where the child flips over two cards at a time and has to remember where the max of the card is amongst all the other cards. This can be a good way to increase their skills in visual memory. Sensory activities are another great example of how a child can improve their visual perception. For instance, a child could use pipe cleaners and bend them into the shapes or letters they are learning. This way, the child can feel the shape and then learn to visualize it. Construction type activities are also a great way to practice their skills. This can involve Duplos, Legos, or other building blocks. This is great practice for their visual discrimination skills, as well as their visual form constancy. There are other useful exercises that can be used to help a child’s visual perceptual skills. For example, using graph paper is a great way to practice word spacing and sizing. Directional arrows can also be drawn to help with the direction or starting position on paper. This is useful when a child starts to write their own letters. A child can also follow outlined boundaries, which is when a red line is drawn to outline the boundaries of cutting tasks, coloring, or mazes. When doing visual activities such as puzzles, breaking them into small steps is effective. This way, each puzzle piece can be presented at one time and the unneeded pieces can be covered.
Do you have additional questions about visual perception or pediatric occupational therapy in Chicago?
Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services for children, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.