12/9/08

Improving Visual Perception and Memory Skills

When we adopted Rosa from China, we knew she had an eye condition but we did not know what her eye condition was because the medical information provided to us was very limited. After getting Rosa home from China, we found out from her pediatric ophthalmologist that Rosa is legally blind in her left eye. Her eye condition can not be corrected because she has a coloboma or hole in her optic nerve. Rosa has good vision in her right eye so she has no trouble getting around and doing all the things that a five year old would want to do. She does have some mild to moderate issues with visual processing and mild issues with gross motor activities involving balancing skills.

Visual processing is how the brain interprets or processes information taken in through the eyes. A visual processing disorder is not the same as having poor vision or needing glasses. Children with visual processing disorders will often have problems with messy handwriting, avoiding reading, skipping words or lines while reading, poor eye contact, missed social cues, confusion with right and left directions, poor performance in sports, forgetting what has been shown to them, difficulty with spelling, and other issues. A visual processing disorder can make reading, writing, math, and social situations a challenge.

Rosa has struggled a great deal with learning her colors and she has a poor short term visual memory. She has great auditory processing skills so we try to find ways to teach her things using auditory learning activities. We have also made a point to incorporate daily activities which help strengthen Rosa's visual perception and visual memory skills. Rosa has made positive gains and her visual memory and color recognition have improved. If you suspect your child may have a visual processing disorder, then you definitely want to consult with your doctor. Below I will list some good websites where you can learn more about visual processing disorders and also activities, toys, books, and games we have used to help Rosa improve her visual perception and visual memory skills.

Websites With Information About Visual Processing Disorders:
The Mislabeled Child
The National Center for Learning Disabilities

I highly recommend the book Developing Ocular Motor and Visual Perceptual Skills: An Activity Workbook. This is a book written for optometrists, occupational therapists, and parents who are trying to help children improve their visual perception skills. The book is filled with a great variety of easy to implement activities. The activities are divided into five levels for children of all ages. The activities cover the following areas:

*complexity of reading
*gross motor
*visual-motor perception
*visual memory
*laterality
*reversals

Rosa has benefited from the activities in this book. The author of this book has done a wonderful job of making the book highly useful for parents as well as health care professionals.

Some of our favorite toys, books, and games help to improve visual perception skills. We love I Spy books in our family and the I Spy and Find It games as well. These books and games are listed in occupational therapy catalogs and parents can certainly use them to help their children with visual perception skills. The Look-Alike books are another great set of visual books.



Pattern blocks are a fun toy which can help your child improve visual perception skills. I recommend getting magnetic pattern blocks for younger children who get frustrated when regular pattern blocks slide all around.




Memory games are an excellent tool to help your child improve their visual memory skills. Rosa loves to play memory and we recently discovered some sturdy and attractive memory games from Eeboo. You can start with a few cards and then have your child work up to playing with the entire set.


Lacing toys and maze books can also help improve visual perception skills. Melissa & Doug make a variety of lacing toys and Kumon has really fun maze books for kids ages 2-7. Rosa loved the Kumon My Book of Easy Mazes which is the first maze book in the series. We will soon be ordering the next Kumon maze book called My First Book of Mazes.


All of these toys, games, and books can be found at the Kids Love Learning Store. I have more fun products listed in the Visual Processing category as well so be sure to check them out.

Additional Websites
Eye Can Learn has on-line eye exercise games for kids.
edHelper.com has free printable worksheets to help improve visual perception skills.





5 comments:

Melanie said...

Hi Amy. You have done some great research on visual perception and improving visual perceptual skills - what a great blog! I am an occupational therapist and have developed a number of worksheets to help children with visual perceptual difficulties. You can view these worksheets at www.visuallearningforlife.com. I also have an online checklist on the website that helps parents/teachers to identify which visual perceptual areas a child may be struggling with. I would really value any thoughts or feedback you may have!

Anonymous said...

I am a special education teacher with a student who is struggling with learning to read. She has had experienced reading teachers work intensely with her for the past three years, but she still isn't able to decode 4 phoneme words and knows less than 80 sight words. She often reverses letters and words (was for saw). She also struggles with numbers and simple adding and subtracting. She wears glasses and has trouble tracking with one eye. I am unsure of what to do and how to help her. Her mother reports that the eye doctor says that there are no problems. I see a major problem with memory and phonemic awareness skills. Even after years of intensive interventions. Do you have any advice. I am desperate to help this little girl succeed and feel confident at school. Thank you. SPED Teacher

Anonymous said...

My son was just diagnosed with convergence insuffiency. The first sign there was a problem was that his right eye was turning out. When I took him to the doctor at 2 it was dismissed. When I took him to the optometrist at the end of his kindergarten year the optometrist said there was nothing that could be done for his eye turn. His reading is very slow and choppy. Luckily, a friend recommended a developmental optometrist and there is help! My son now wears glasses with a prism to help his eyes focus (his eyesight is 20/20 by the way) and he has to go to visual therapy to help him train his eyes and track better. Perhaps your special ed child has this problem. Go to www.optometrist.org and there you will find a lot of information about various visual problems.

Derek Krycek said...

What a cool story, Amy! You seem to know quite a lot about this topic. I have a friend who lives in Alberta. He has a son with many serious visual problems. Would he be able to go to a regular eye doctor in Edmonton or would he need to find a specialist?

Amy said...

Derek,
I would say your friend would definitely need to take their child to a pediatric opthamologist if they haven't already.