What Visual Perception Is

Visual Perception is the ability to interpret, analyze and give meaning to what is seen. This is of major importance when establishing the building blocks for learning. If a child's perception of his environment is incorrect he will have trouble with reading, spelling , handwriting, math and comprehension problems. There are several skills that commonly are thought to make up what we mean by visual perception and they are: visual discrimination, form constancy, visual spatial relations, visual memory, figure ground awareness, visual closure, and visual analysis and synthesis.

Visual Perception Components

Visual discrimination is the ability to see the differences and similarities among objects. This skill allows us to notice the differences between similar looking forms such as b/d, 5/s, x/t. In order to read a child must be able to distinguish the difference between was and saw, 21 and 12, dad and bad. If this skill is poorly developed the child will struggle.

Visual Form Constancy is the ability to recognize forms and objects regardless of size and orientation. It helps us to recognize items in different ways such as upper and lower case letters, different fonts or italics.

Visual Spatial Relations is the perception of the relationship of figures and objects to oneself. In order for a child to understand visual directional differences he must develop a sense of internal visual coordinates such as up and down, left and right as well as spatial concepts such as "in, out, on, under, next to, up, down , in front of" etc. This relates to our awareness of left and right and b,d, p, q directionality. It also helps us to think 3 dimensionally .

Visual Memory is the ability to recall and retain visual information. Short term memory plays a role in the temporary storage of numbers while we do a math problem or figure out a new word. It allows us to easily copy a whole word from the board and not need to go letter by letter. It also helps us remember sight words, and phone numbers.A child with these memory problems may have difficulty differentiating between letters and numbers that look similar.. If you ask her to find a specific piece of information on a page, she is not able to find it easily. She may also have problems with keeping her place while reading .

Visual Figure Ground allows a child to select and attend to one set of stimuli within a busy field without getting confused by the background or surrounding images. It allows us to easily find a friend in a crowd, food on a shelf, an item on a cluttered desk, a phone number in a directory, an item on a list. It helps create a balance between seeing the "big picture" while still focusing on the details. A child bouncing a ball on a playground has her attention directed to the ball, which is the figure in the scene she perceives while the other parts of the playground form the surroundings of the perceived ground which she is probably only aware of to avoid colliding with.

Visual Closure is the ability to identify the whole object, word or picture when only a part is seen by mentally filling in the missing pieces. To an experienced reader the word "thc" may easily be interpreted as a typo for "the". But to a beginner reader the that same word is processed as "thc" and not properly understood.

Visual Analysis is the ability to break up (analyze) pictures, objects, forms and words such as "see this shape, can these pieces be used to build it?. Visual synthesis is the ability to assemble parts into a whole such as "see these pieces, what can you build with them? Visual processing speed is closely linked to the ability to analyze visual information. It influences our reading fluency and helps us combine parts of visual information so we can see the big picture.