top of page

Visual System

What is our Visual System?

This is what gives us the ability to see. Children with visual processing issues may have trouble recognizing slight variations in color, brightness, gauging the size/distance of objects, reading, concentrating in bright/busy environments, difficulty with eye contact, ability to locate movement, and may have reactions to dangerous things in your environment (moving cars/balls).

The visual system can be very overwhelming to children. When we discuss the visual system for children there are two main branches. There is vision as part of the sensory system such as brightness, clutter, and acuity. Then there is visual information processing such as visual perceptual skills, ocular motor skills, and visual processing information. Please refer to our blog post for visual processing information. Here I want to discuss vision as part of the 8 sensory systems.

Imagine walking into a classroom each day that has bright fluorescent lights, clutter in all corners, and bright distracting colors. It often looks to an adult as such a "fun kids" room but it can be very overstimulating for some children. The sensory systems work together to help a child use different sensory systems at different times to help with modulation and coping. Therefore, in a busy and cluttered classroom a child can't express that this is something that bothers them. There might be days when the clutter is less overwhelming but one difficult day is one more day of being distracted and dysregulated. There is only so much input their sensory threshold can take and also the child themselves.

The sensory threshold is often talked about but hard to label and understand. This is often what parents refer to as "you just never know the day", "I don't understand why sometimes they can do it and other times they can't", "I have tried the same sensory strategies each day but it doesn't always keep them organized". This is our ability to pinpoint as parents that a child's ability to modulate is hard to predict but the key to understanding modulation is knowing a child's threshold. Sensory threshold is how much sensory input a child can handle before having a non-preferred behavior and/or meltdown. The sensory threshold is like a bucket; we can only pour so much into a bucket before we have to pour some out. The ways to help children understand their threshold is by teaching them sensory tools, sensory strategies, language to describe emotions, ability to self-advocate, and co-regulation.

The vision system is apart of the sensory system and can often be a system that pours a lot into your child's bucket without them knowing. Therefore, it is hard for them to know how to cope when they do not know when their visual system is overloaded. Here are some red flags to help identify if your child is struggling with their visual system.

Common Red Flags for Visual System Dysfunction:

  1. Difficulty with eye hand coordination task such as playing catch.

  2. Very sensitive to bright lights and/or florescent lights.

  3. Difficulty with eye contact or visually focus on information.

  4. Difficulty with copying from the board or copying notes.

Ways to help your child using their visual system:

  • Decreasing clutter on desk or in their immediate working area

  • Allow for a visual schedule to help keep their focus and attention on tasks.

  • Allow for desk partitions to help decreased peripheral input and allow more focus with handwriting and individual tasks.

  • Sensory Tubes

  • Access to sunglasses or transitional lenses if they wear glasses.

  • Light table to help work on visual fixations and visual attention.

  • Light Dimmers

  • Allow visual breaks!

  • Use Reading Stripes

Every child is unique in their sensory preferences. Continue to try new coping strategies and talk to your child about what helps and what seems overwhelming. It is always important to remember that a little goes a long way with sensory. Don't feel the need to try a lot of new things at once. When you see your child struggling in one area try to look at all the sensory systems for that task. It will help you to dissect their threshold and problem solve a plan.


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page