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Myths about Visual Processing

Myth 1: My child has 20/20 vision therefore, it can not be a visual deficit.


This is a very common misconception about visual processing. Visual acuity is what is often referred to as 20/20. This is when your child gets their annual eye exam and they read the letter charts up close and at a distance. There are several other factors that contribute to visual processing including visual perceptual skills, ocular motor skills, visual attention, and binocular vision.


Myth 2: Lack of visual attention is causing learning difficulties not visual processing.


It is not uncommon for educators, parents and caregivers to feel like visual attention is at the root of children difficulties with learning. In fact, several studies have linked increased cases of convergence insufficiency in children with ADHD. Visual attention is a multitude of factors. These factors include visual processing, sensory modulation, motor planning, processing skills, and coping skills. Many children with learning differences have visual attention deficits. The foundation of visual attention includes ocular motor skills such as smooth pursuits, saccades, fixations, convergence, divergence, and accommodation.




Myth 3: A chid with reversals (numbers and/or letters) have dyslexia


There are many signs and symptoms that overlap when comparing visual processing deficits and dyslexia. There is a signification portion of the population that has letter reversals but not qualify for dyslexia. When a child has visual processing deficits directionality, form constancy, visual memory, and visual saccades play a big part in the formation of letters. For example, when a child demonstrates poor visual memory, every time they see a letter written in a different font it looks like a new letter to them.They lack the visual memory and form constancy to remember the letter across settings and fonts. This is often seen with sight words. You can practice and practice a sight word on a notecard but when you get to a book, they have forgotten the word. Therefore, they don't have the visual memory and form constancy skills to generalize and move that word or letter from short term memory into long term memory. Directionality (ability to know left from right) also allows us to know which direction our letters are supposed to go. For example, if we know that a "b" bumps to the right it is hard to confuse with "d" which bumps to the left.



Myth 4: Children with visual processing deficits just don't attend and need to try harder.


Visual processing deficits can affect fine motor, gross motor, eye hand coordination, handwriting, attention to task, ability to participate in same aged games and social skills. They often get told to try hard or to "focus". Our children with visual processing deficits are often very high functioning, therefore, they have built up good compensatory strategies (reading with their finger, resting their head on the table, asking for help often) but as the workload get hard especially in 3rd grade the gap becomes wider and wider. They often have a hard time with reading comprehension; they are so focused on not losing their place that it is hard for them to follow the story. Lining up math problems becomes difficult as they get into hundreds and thousands place values.



Myth 5: The just are not smart.


This is devastating to get back an IQ test and feel like there is a discrepancy between what you know they are capable of vs. what the test says. Almost all of the items on an IQ test are visual processing. A child has to take information in visually using fixations, saccades, pursuits, visual perceptual skills, convergence/divergence, and visual attention to produce an answer. When a child has severe visual deficits such as lack of binocular vision the type of testing is exhausting and painful for them. It is not uncommon for a child with visual attention deficits to begin to guess in order to try and finish faster. A traditional IQ test does not always predict the exact range when your child has a visual processing deficit




References:

We report an apparent three-fold greater incidence of ADHD among patients with CI when compared with the incidence of ADHD in the general US population. The Relationship between Convergence Insufficiency and ADHD




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