WHAT ARE VISUAL PERCEPTUAL SKILLS?

Visual Perception is the brain's ability to interpret and give meaning to visual information. Your eyes first see the visual information, then your brain organises and interprets that information.


Remember that visual perception is not how your eyes see visual information, but of course, without optimal vision, you will not have good visual perceptual skills. So always rule out possible visual deficits before thinking that the issue is solely related to poor visual perceptual skills.

Why do we need Visual Perception?

Visual Perceptual Skills are required for most academic tasks, namely: reading, writing, spelling, maths and copying work from the board. We also need it for finding items in our bag, finding what we need on our desk and for basic organisational skills.


What are the more specific areas of Visual Perception?

So, we've talked about Visual Perception in general terms so far. Now we're going to look at the more specific areas of Visual Perception.


These are:

✨ Visual Discrimination

✨ Visual Memory

✨ Spatial Relationships

✨ Form Constancy

✨ Sequential Memory

✨ Figure-Ground

✨ Visual Closure

Visual Discrimination

This is the ability to recognise details, such as similarities and differences, in visual images (e.g. pictures, words and numbers). We require this skill for reading and paying attention to detail.

Visual Memory

This is the ability to recall a form from short-term memory. We need this skill for reading, spelling and writing.


Spatial Relationships

This is the ability to understand the relationship of objects in relation to oneself and each other. It involves the ability to understand directions, reversals and identify left and right (e.g. telling the difference between b and d, p and q). We require this skill for reading, spelling and organisation.

Form Constancy

This is the ability to recognise a form in different contexts, regardless of changes in size, shape, colour and orientation. We need this skill to be able to recognise a known word when seen in an unfamiliar context, font or handwriting and for learning shapes and letters!


Sequential Memory

This is the ability to remember and recall a series or sequence of items after a given time lapse in the correct order. We need this skill for spelling and reading. If a child experiences difficulties in this area, they may struggle to copy sentences from the board, for example, as they cannot remember the sequence of letters/words efficiently and may leave out some letters/words.


Figure-Ground

This is the ability to distinguish the relevant foreground from the irrelevant background. It includes the ability to find a form hidden in a complex picture or background. So, for example, if you ask a child to get the blue crayon out of the pencil case, they may not be able to find it amongst the other crayons. This skill is also important for when there's a lot of print on a page as well as scanning and locating specific information.

Visual Closure

This is the ability to visually complete a whole figure when only part of the figure is exposed. This skill is required for spelling and reading as well as letter formations. A child with difficulties in this area may not be able to identify the ends or middle of a word. They may also not know if a word is complete.

So, as you can see, visual perceptual skills are crucial for most academic tasks and skills. If your child is struggling with academics or with tasks within the classroom, maybe start by ruling out visual or visual perceptual difficulties!

Let us know what else you'd like to know about visual perception!

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