Visual processing issues

7 Terms to Know If Your Child Struggles With Visual Processing Issues

By Beth Arky

45Found this helpful
45Found this helpful

The terms professionals use to describe visual processing issues can be tricky. Understanding the terminology can make conversations go smoother. Here we explain seven terms that refer to different kinds of visual processing difficulties.

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Visual closure

Knowing what an object is when only parts of it are visible. Kids who have trouble in this area may find it hard to identify words with missing letters, for instance.

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Visual discrimination

Using eyesight to notice and compare features—like color and shape—to distinguish one item from another. Kids with difficulty in this area may confuse similar-shaped letters or numbers.

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Visual figure-ground discrimination

Using eyesight to differentiate a shape or printed character from its background. Kids who have trouble with this may struggle to pick out words or numbers from a page.

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Visual memory

Remembering something you saw awhile ago or recently. Visual memory problems can make it difficult to remember things like phone numbers or how a word is spelled.

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Visual sequencing

Seeing and distinguishing the order of symbols, words or images. Problems with visual sequencing might lead to difficulty using an answer sheet, aligning numbers in math problems or keeping your place while reading a page.

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Visual-spatial awareness

Understanding an object’s position in space as it relates to yourself. Children who lack this ability may struggle with reading maps or judging time.

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Visual-motor processing

Using feedback from the eyes to coordinate the movement of other parts of the body. Kids with visual-motor processing difficulties might find it hard to copy words from a blackboard or to guess how far away something is. This can make it hard to move around without bumping into things.

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About the Author

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Portrait of Sheldon Horowitz

Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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