åÊ When a child struggles in the classroom, it is important to have a comprehensive developmental vision assessment.åÊ When an evaluation is scheduled with a developmental optometrist there will often be additional testing of the child’s competency on visual processing tasks.Visual-motor integration, visual-spatial perception, figure-ground, sequential memory, letter reversals and handwriting may all be a part of the testing in order to adequately assess a patientÛªs visual processing skills.
The areas being evaluated often correlate directly with difficulties demonstrated in the school setting.åÊ In order to fully understand a patientÛªs visual needs this testing is essential.
The most recent Journal of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development includes a research article that discusses how enhancing certain components of the visual system can enhance the acquisition of basic arithmetic skills.
Math relies on competency in visual-spatial processing.åÊ In regards to math, a child must have an understanding of what numbers mean and that they represent a quantity in order to make sense of the problem being presented.åÊ åÊBeing able to utilize oneÛªs visual memory is also necessary to retain certain patterns and basic math facts allowing for efficiency in this subject area.
Poor handwriting can be indicative of a deficiency in visual-motor integration and visual-spatial processing.åÊ This is often demonstrated by a difficulty in keeping letters between the lines, writing uphill/downhill, or an irregularity of letter sizes and spacing.åÊ Insufficient integration between the vision and motor systems, and the inability to link the visual input and motor output, often results in poor handwriting, difficulty with drawing and cutting with scissors.
Being able to easily find a pencil in a desk drawer provides an example of using figure-ground processing.åÊ This may also be true for someone who often misplaces objects or has difficulty finding objects in crowded or busy environments.
Letter reversals, such as b, d, p, and q may occur until age 7.åÊ However, significant letter reversals may indicate visual-spatial impairments, if they persist past age 7.åÊ Visual-spatial processing occurs when the input from the visual system fails to provide the brain with accurate and consistent information about the environment.
The assessment of visual processing is a necessary step in determining the appropriate cause for certain visual deficiencies, and should not be dismissed or overlooked when difficulties in school are present.
Many of these topics are discussed in The Mislabeled Child, written by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide.
Lindsey Stull, O.D.
Clinic Director, Wow Vision Therapy