A black and white picture of an eye with a bright rainbow colored iris.Visual Perceptual Motor Deficit affects the ability to understand information gathered through visual means. Sensory data obtained through seeing may be compromised due to defects in the way a person’s eyes move. These kinds of ocular defects can impair reading comprehension skills, lead to a short attention span, and negatively impact one’s ability to draw or copy information.

The Root of the Visual Perceptual Motor Deficit Problem

The eyes are controlled by six ocular muscles that move them up and down, left to right, and diagonally. Good vision comes not only from having 20/20 eyesight, but also from the ability of these muscles to function properly. If they are unable to fully work together in unison, it can be very difficult for a person to comprehend and effectively interact with their environment.Those who suffer from such visual perceptual deficits have eyes that struggle with performing basic functional motor movements. The following are some of the most common.

  • Smooth Pursuits: This visual motor movement is the eyes ability to smoothly follow a moving object. Being unable to successfully preform a smooth pursuit can make it rather difficult to do things such as play sports, drive a car, or pay attention to a pacing teacher.
  • Saccades: These movements are the eyes ability to smoothly jump between two objects. This is an extremely important skill required for reading, as our eyes must make very small, and very coordinated movements from letter to letter and word to word.
  • Convergence and Divergence: These skills are the eyes ability to work together and focus on objects both nearby and far away. Convergence is required for focusing on things nearby, and divergence is required for focusing on things off in the distance. The eyes working together is what gives us our depth perception, and if this is compromised, than any number of visual perceptual problems may arise.

Visual Perceptual Skills

Visual processing is typically divided into categories that each represent a distinct skill required to build a strong perceptual foundation. These skills are essentially the way the brain processes what the eyes see, and are as follows:

 Visual Discrimination: This is the ability to be aware of the distinct features of form, such as, shape, orientation, size, and color.

Visual Sequential Memory: Visual sequential memory is the capacity to which a person is able to memorize a series of objects, such as letters or words, in the order which they were first observed.

Visual Figure Ground: This skill represents a person’s capability to distinguish an object from its background.

Visual Spatial Skills: These skills are those that are required to understand directional concepts and organize external visual information. They are also the skills that govern a person’s sense of spatial reasoning, and direction in relation to one’s own body.

Visual Closure: Closure in a visual sense refers to the ability to recognize a complete feature from fragmented information, i.e. being able to tell what an object is just by looking at one part of it.

Visual Form Consistency: Form Consistency refers to the ability to recognize objects as they change in shape, color, or orientation.

Visual Memory: This one is the ability to retain information gathered through visual means. Being able to obtain the most information possible in the shortest amount of time leads to optimal performance.

Together these visual perceptual skills form the basis upon which all learning takes place. Building strong visual processing skills makes understanding information much easier.

This quote by author Ronald H. Forgus illustrates that point brilliantly:

Perception is an active process of locating and extracting information from the environment, and learning is the process of acquiring information through experience and storing information. Thinking is the manipulation of information to solve problems. The easier it is to extract information (perceive) the easier our thinking process becomes.”

Signs and Symptoms of Visual Perceptual Motor Deficit

In order to determine if you or your child are currently suffering from a visual perceptual deficit, it can be helpful to identify certain habits and behaviors that typify this kind of disability. Below is a list of several warning signs and symptoms that can point to perceptual motor difficulties.

  • Inability to copy information accurately
  • Reversing superficially similar letters such as ‘p’ and ‘q’ or ‘m’ and ‘w’
  • Difficulty navigating around school or campus
  • Complains about eyes hurting and itching, often rubs them
  • Turns head while reading or hold paper at odd angles
  • Closes one eye while reading
  • Often loses place while reading
  • Unable to recognize a word if only part of it is shown
  • Holds writing utensils very tightly, often breaks pencil points
  • Struggles with cut and paste
  • Poor organization on the page, messy words, irregular spacing, and misaligned letters

Treatment for Visual Perceptual Motor Deficit

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a visual perceptual motor deficit, the best course of action is to consult with a licensed vision therapist. They will be able to prescribe a regimen that will hopefully make a dramatic difference in the life of anyone suffering from this frustrating disability. Meeting with a developmental optometrist is another option that will help identify precisely what basic eye functions you or your child may struggle with. However, there are some at home habits and practices that can also improve functional vision and begin building a foundation for stronger visual perceptual skills. These strategies include, but are not limited to:

  • Use of large print books
  • Employ books on tape
  • Experiment with different paper styles
  • Allow the child to dictate creative stories
  • Suggest use of pencil grips
  • Allow use of a computer/word processor
  • Provide tracking tools such as rulers and compasses
  • Play visual and memory based games

A young boy having his eyes check for responsiveness by a doctor with a flashlight for visual perceptual motor deficit

Integrated Learning Academy’s Unique Approach to Treating Visual Perceptual Motor Deficit

Many of the Brain Gym exercises are specifically designed to strengthen the muscles in the eye and to improve hand eye coordination. The importance of physical activity when treating this disorder cannot be understated!

Please call us to discuss how we can help you and your child overcome Visual Perceptual Motor Deficit!

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