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Visual Processing Difficulties

Visual processing is not the measure of our eyes' ability to take in information, or 20/20 sight, but the ability of our brain to make sense of this information. When we have difficulties understanding the information coming from our eyes, it impacts our ability to learn.

Most standard vision tests do not measure how well we process visual information. Our SOI and IPP assessments can often detect interruptions or challenges to visual processing. Some of the visual processing abilities that our tests measure are:

  • Visual Discrimination: This is the ability to recognize differences between two similar letters, shapes or objects. Issues with discrimination may mean that learners mix up or confuse letters and numbers, which affects their ability to read and write.

  • Visual Figure-Ground Discrimination: This is the ability to identify a shape or a character from a busy background. Challenges in this area result in difficulty with locating specific details in a body of text, or information on a page.

  • Visual Sequencing: This is the ability to put symbols, words or images in a certain order. Learners who struggle with sequencing may have a hard time writing answers on a separate sheet, or they may skip lines when reading. Sometimes, letters and numbers and words may also be misread or read in reverse. 

  • Visual-Motor Processing: This is the skill that is known as psychomotor coordination, or the ability to coordinate what we see with the rest of our bodies. Learners who struggle with hand-eye coordination have a hard time staying on the lines or in the margins when they write. They might also be fairly clumsy or uncoordinated in their bodily movements. Copying words or images from the board or a book would also be challenging.

  • Long- or Short-Term Visual Memory: Visual memory is the ability to remember what has been seen with the eyes. Spelling and reading are impacted when a learner does not have the ability to "see" in their mind what their eyes have taken in. Learners with such issues might also forget what they’ve read, and find it difficult to use a keyboard.

  • Visual-Spatial: The ability to tell where objects (and their own bodies) are in space is known as visual-spatial ability. Underdeveloped visual-spatial skills result in learners being unable to judge how far things are from them and from each other. It may also impact their ability to read maps, build furniture from illustrated instructions, or judge the passage of time.

  • Visual Closure: This is the ability to to see all the parts of a word, or a sentence, or an object. Those with visual closure challenges only process part of what they see, and might not recognize images that are incomplete (such as a motorcycle without wheels). They may have a hard time recognizing people with partly obscured facial features (such as dark sunglasses or a scarf), or find reading accurately a challenging because they cannot see every letter in a word.

  • Letter and Symbol Reversals: Some learners struggle with the ability to keep the order of letters and numbers when they write. Switching numbers and letters around, or making substitutions when reading, have a tremendous impact on one's ability to be successful in school. Often, those with reversal issues also have difficulty forming letters correctly, which affects reading, writing and math performance.

Difficulty in any of these abilities will have a big impact on academic and workplace performance. Our SOI-IPP assessments are designed to identify the visual abilities that are underdeveloped, and our SOI modules offer exercises to build up these abilities. Our IPP services support the SOI program by pairing eye exercises with balance and movement tasks to integrate visual stimuli with other sensory information. This helps create new pathways for our brains to make sense of the information that our eyes have taken in. 

Common Visual Processing Issues:

  • doesn't focus on visual tasks

  • easily distracted by "busy" sights

  • restlessness during video presentations

  • difficulty with copying tasks

  • reverses/misreads letters, words and numbers 

  • bumps into things

  • struggles to stay in margins and on lines

  • can't spell words with irregular letter patterns

  • can't remember phone numbers

  • poor reading comprehension

  • skips words or lines when reading

  • complains that eyes are tired when reading

  • difficulty recalling details of what was read

  • low writing output skills, despite high verbal and oral comprehension abilities

  • has weak math skills, and may confuse similar-looking formulas

  • doesn't notice visual changes in environment

What visual processing problems look like in: 



School-Aged Kids


Mature Learners 

Here is the good news: 

We can help.