Visual perception helps us understand and participate in the world around us
As adults, we often take our senses for granted. Interpreting the world around us through our eyes, ears, and hands is so natural that we don’t stop to appreciate how special it is to smell freshly baked cookies, or hear the soft hum of elevator music on our way up to the office in the morning.
Many of the sensations we experience daily are so innate that they simply go unnoticed. But, imagine that a small child is opening a colorful picture book for the first time. As her hands turn the glossy pages, her eyes pass over the bright images and characters. She’s delighted and looks over the pages for a few moments – an unusual respite for a busy toddler.
The ability to absorb and process visual information is called visual perception, and it is an important part of early childhood development.
What is visual perception?
Perception is the cognitive process by which the brain interprets information collected by the sensory organs. Your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and hands don’t draw conclusions about the senses they experience – they collect data and send it to the brain to process and interpret the data.
Simply put, visual perception is the brain’s ability to interpret what is seen. This encompasses everything from spatial orientation to texture, color, and subject matter.
Visual perception does not have anything to do with the function of the eyesight, such as how clearly a person sees. It refers to the brain’s ability to draw conclusions from the information absorbed through the eyes.
Visual perception is necessary for reading, writing, and movement. Without it, children may find daily tasks such as completing homework, solving puzzles, or getting dressed extremely stressful. This can lead to poor self-esteem and academic or social obstacles, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of appropriate development.
How visual perception affects growth and development
Visual perception typically presents itself in academic skills like reading, writing, and math.
It also comes into play when a child is pursuing creative activities like arts and crafts. Some examples include cutting with scissors, choosing marker colors, or remembering objects and recreating them with drawings.
That’s not to say that it is not possible to read, write, or create without visual perception. These skills can still be learned but might require more effort and time for a child without strong visual perception.
If you are concerned about the development of your child’s visual perception, here are a few things to look for:
- Struggles to complete academic tasks at the same rate as other children.
- Poor attention span or has trouble staying focused.
- Anxiety and frustration with performing tasks that require precise hand-eye coordination such as cutting objects with scissors.
- Poor organization skills.
- Avoids tasks that require hand-eye coordination and asks others to draw for them or put simple toys together.
These obstacles can put stress on a child. Not only does the inability to see and interpret information cause a child to struggle academically, but it may increase feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness, which will impact self-esteem.
Tips to improve your child’s visual perception
The good news is that visual perception can be improved with dedicated practice. Indeed, perceptive learning is entirely different from cognitive or motor learning. Parents, schools, and counselors can work with children to help them increase their visual perception skills.
Here are a few activities to practice with your child to improve visual perception:
- Visual scanning games such as “I Spy,” and Where’s Wally picture books.
- Visual discrimination activities such as “spot the difference”
- Simple puzzles such as “connect-the-dots.”
- Memory card games such as “Go Fish.”
- Arts and crafts that utilize many textures and colors – pipe cleaners or play dough are good options for recreating letters or forms.
- Building structures such as cars or buildings with blocks and Legos.
- Touch and feel picture books.
If you notice that your child is struggling with visual perception, your family may benefit from therapeutic intervention. Working together, your provider can help your child develop their visual perception skills and become comfortable and persistent – particularly with academic and self-care tasks.
Creating a customized plan just for you
At Lumiere Children’s Therapy, we work one-on-one with each family to develop a custom treatment plan to reveal each child’s dynamic potential.
Our program is custom-built, allowing the individual goals of each child to be met using a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach.
We offer speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, social work/behavioral therapy, and physical therapy. We strive to provide a nurturing and loving environment where your child’s needs can be met with the utmost care and attention.
Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you and your family today.