Visual processing issues

I Just Found Out My Child Has Visual Processing Issues. Now What?

By Lexi Walters Wright

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Kids with visual processing issues have trouble making sense of information taken in through their eyes. If you recently found out your child has visual processing issues, there are lots of things you can do to help your child thrive in school and in life. Here are the next steps you can take.


Learn all you can about visual processing issues.

Having a more in-depth understanding of visual processing issues (and debunking common myths) can give you a better idea of how to help your child. Find out how signs of visual processing issues may change as kids get older. And see how these issues could affect his social life.


Look into therapies and treatments for vision processing issues.

Get to know the terms doctors and specialists use when discussing visual processing issues. Then talk to your child’s doctor and any specialists about what may help your child.

It’s important to be an “informed consumer” when exploring treatment or therapy for visual processing issues. You may want to keep handy this list of questions to ask treatment providers. Some pediatric optometrists may recommend vision therapy for your child. Keep in mind that it’s a controversial treatment and not all professionals view it as scientifically valid. Look into other treatment options, too. For instance, educational therapy can help your child find strategies to work around specific school challenges.


Discuss supports and services for visual processing issues with the school.

Schedule a meeting with the school and bring copies of any reports you may have from doctors or specialists. Using recommendations from private evaluations could help with the IEP or 504 plan process. The school may have done its own evaluation, too. (If not, find out how to request a free educational evaluation.) Talk about any supports and services that might be helpful, such as classroom accommodations and assistive technology. If your child isn’t eligible for an IEP or a 504 plan, learn about informal supports that could help.


Teach your child to self-advocate.

It’s important for your child to develop the ability to speak up for what he needs, both in and out of school. Help him recognize his strengths and challenges. Then discuss what self-advocacy can look like in grade school, middle school and high school. Helping your child come up with a self-advocacy script can be a good way to start.


Understand the possible emotional impact.

Having learning and attention issues can also have an effect on your child’s emotions. In some cases, there’s even a higher risk for mental health issues. Learn about the signs of anxiety and depression. Don’t wait to contact your child’s doctor if you have any concerns.


Find ways to help with your child’s visual processing issues at home.

Kids with visual processing issues can struggle with certain everyday skills, like judging personal space or managing time. Try different techniques for teaching personal space, including “the elbow rule” or a cool approach with a hula-hoop. Explore Tech Finder to find apps to help kids with time management, reading and more.

You may find that color-coding helps your child. Or writing notes and other information in large, clear letters. You can work on improving visual processing skills in fun ways, too. Try reading Where’s Waldo? together or playing visual games like Spot It.


Find support for visual processing issues.

Visit your local Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to learn about potential services near you. And join other parents from across the country in our online community. They can share tips and experiences that can make your journey easier.


Stay in touch with the school.

By keeping in touch with your child’s teachers, it’s easier to know if supports and services are working. Ask about teaching techniques that could help, like using uncluttered handouts or describing visual presentations out loud.

If your child often reverses letters, check in with the teacher now and then about how that’s going. Explore questions to ask about reading instruction. For instance, it’s helpful to engage more than one sense when teaching reading. So you might talk to the teacher about multisensory techniques she’s using to help your child.

About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright is veteran writer and editor who helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.

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Portrait of Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin, Ph.D., was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.

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