Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Understanding Visual Perception- Part I

Maybe you've seen it on a report from a neuropsychologist or school psychologist, or maybe you're just wondering what visual perceptual problems are because you've heard it might occur in dyslexia. Visual perceptual disorders are not uncommon in school age children, and they may present in a variety of ways that may include persistent letter or word reversals, tendency to get lost easily, impaired visual recognition of objects, visual distractibility, and poor drawing and copying.

Risk factors for visual perceptual disorders may include such conditions as dyslexia, premature birth, other birth stress or injury, and autism spectrum disorders or Aspergers.

So what is it? Visual perception is how the brain organizes the visual information coming from the eyes. The eye is not a simple camera. The brain organizes and priorities visual information, looks for shapes, edges, and meaning, makes decisions about what it sees, what to emphasize, and what to ignore. In visual perceptual disorders, the brain can make errors in the general shape, orientation, texture, color, organization, detail, movement, and identity.

Not surprisingly, these problems can make a child look 'spacey', disoriented, inattentive, bizarre (may have poor eye contact), and forgetful. These children may be forever losing things, develop clinging or anxious behaviors, and have perplexing difficulties while learning.

It is important to understand visual perceptual disorders, because research studies suggest that specific training can help overcome some practical difficulties. Also, educationally, the more specific the knowledge about a child's disability, the better choices can be made for optimal learning style and visual environment (lighting, crowding, color, visual presentation).

It was difficult choosing what reference might be most helpful for you blog readers. We've started with one of the easiest articles (simplified) first, then posted our pdf file of "The Different Ways We See", and lastly, a more technical article on visual perception. Visual perception is a complicated topic- and that's probably why it is often not explained to parents. Taking it step-by-step, though, we think you'll find that it helps you understand what a child is going through when she or he has trouble understanding his visual environment. In another post, we'll discuss promising strategies for rehabilitation.

The Different Ways We See
Visual Perception

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