Does your child have difficulty distinguishing one number or letter from another? Are they clumsy or do they have poor motor skills? Do they skip lines or words when reading or mistake a letter or word for a similar one? Do they have weak reading comprehension or reading difficulties such as remembering what they just read? If so, then they may have weak visual processing. This is when the brain has difficulty making sense of the information that is received through the eyes. This can impact the ability to read, focus and learn in all subjects.
Up to twenty percent of children have a reading disorder and often a weak visual system plays a significant role. A standard vision test may indicate your child has 20/20 vision, but near and farsightedness is only one factor. To read fluently, your child’s eyes need to be able to scan smoothly from left to right, to work together when they converge and diverge and to move effortlessly and automatically from one target to another–known as saccadic eye movements.
Vision is processed not just through the eyes but in the brain–known as visual processing. Everything from visual memory, eye movements, to processing symbols as well as depth perception are part of visual processing. Problems with any of these areas can lead to a child doing poorly in school and even being diagnosed with a learning disability when in fact poor visual processing may be a culprit.
The vestibular system or balance also plays a significant role in reading and writing that extends far beyond staying upright. If your child has a weak vestibular system then not only will their balance and coordination be affected but their ability to read fluently because the vestibular system works in conjunction with the visual system. If the vestibular system is under-developed then your child may complain that words or letters move, are backwards or appear double because their vestibular system is not allowing their eyes to stay focused on their target.
Next time, I will outline common signs of poor visual processing as well as what can be done to improve the visual system.
To learn more schedule a free 20 minute Star Student Breakthrough session.
Lorraine Driscoll, MST, RHN
Building Better Brains