The Importance of Visual Perceptual Skills and How Your OT Can Help

Difficulty putting puzzles together. Reversing letters and numbers when writing. Getting lost on the page of a book when trying to read a single line. Unable to find a toy on the playroom floor that others may see easily. Does this sound like your child? You may already know that occupational therapy helps children to improve their fine motor skills, but another area OT focuses on is visual perception.

Visual perception allows a child’s brain to process what he or she is seeing. A child with delayed visual perceptual skills often has trouble interacting with their environment. When they see an object, their brain cannot make sense of all the incoming visual stimuli (the object’s size, shape, color, direction, location in space, whether the object is moving, etc.). Visual perceptual dysfunction causes the child to struggle with age-appropriate fine motor, gross motor, academic, and self-care tasks.

Areas of Visual Perception and Ways to Improve Skills:

1. Visual Discrimination - finding similarities and/or differences between items


2. Visual Memory - remembering visual information about a single item or a sequence of items after the item has been removed

      • Activities/Apps to help:

          • Memory games

          • Simon game

          • Copy patterns with beads, pegs, blocks, etc.

          • Apps: Dexteria VMI, Simon, Monster Hunt


3. Figure-Ground Discrimination - finding an item/picture in a busy background

      • Activities/Apps to help:

          • I-Spy

          • Where’s Waldo?

          • Spot It games

          • Word search puzzles

          • Apps: Visual Attention, Look Again Jr.


4. Form Constancy - noticing two objects are similar even if they are different colors, sizes, facing different directions, etc.


5. Visual Closure - identifying that two items are the same even if part of one is missing

      • Activities/Apps to help:

          • Jigsaw puzzles

          • Crossword puzzles

          • Apps: Where’s The Object


6. Spatial Awareness - identifying the position of two or more items in relation to each other

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