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When there’s a concern about dyslexia or learning disabilities, don’t forget to rule out perceptual disorders first. Perceptual disorders occur when the eyes send clear images to the brain but the brain does not process them correctly. Perceptual disorders interfere with learning, can mimic dyslexia, and diminish productivity.
When the Brain Does Not Understand What it Sees
What is visual perception?Visual perception is what allows us to process what we see so that we can interpret, analyze, and give meaning to our world. People may look at the exact same visual stimulus, but have a different subjective experience. Our ability to correctly interpret what we see affects our cognitive development, learning, and many of our daily activities. Having age-appropriate perceptual skills is critical to learning. For example, without adequate perceptual skills, we would not be able to identify an identical word on another page while reading, be able to differentiate between a “p” and a “q”, write letters in the correct sequence when spelling, be able to form a mental picture of what we’ve just read to improve reading comprehension, be able to differentiate between left and right, mentally manipulate objects in math, or be able to conceptualize relationships in science. Fortunately, perceptual skills are learned and any deficits can be successfully treated with perceptual therapy by Dr. Lisa Januskey.
What Causes Perceptual Disorders?Perceptual disorders can be the result of a developmental delay or a traumatic brain injury.
Categories of Visual Perceptual SkillsVisual perceptual skills are categorized based on their analytical function. Subsets of these skills must operate efficiently together for efficient visual function and to facilitate learning. Below are the different subsets of visual skills: Visual Discrimination: the ability to discriminate dominant features of objects. This includes being able to identify position, shape, form, and color. Visual Memory: the ability to recognize one object after seeing it for just a brief interval. Spatial Relations: the ability to perceive the positions of objects in relation to oneself and other objects. Spatial skills can be further sub-categorized into:
- Laterality Skills: an internal self-awareness of the two sides of the body and how they are different (i.e. right and left)
- Directionality Skills: how we relate the location of one object to another non-self object in space
- Bilateral Integration: the ability to effectively use both sides of the body independently or simultaneously