Visual Skills Needed for Learning in the Classroom

At Nebraska Visual Integration Center, our core values are centered around helping individuals with functional visual issues. One of the most important duties that we have is helping individuals that suffer from learning issues.

How are learning issues related to vision?

Vision therapy and learning issues tie together because they both utilize and need the same functions in order to perform/operate at its optimum level. An individual’s vision is connected to their brain, which processes everything that they see in order to learn the what is being shown in front of them. The base correlation of comprehending, retaining, and repeating (when necessary) information is vital to an to learning.

When individuals want to understand how the two tie together, it is because they both need each other. When an individual has a vision impairment, then they will also end up having a problem with learning. The situation becomes worse with those that have learning disabilities.

How can vision therapy help children suffering from learning disabilities?

On a daily basis parents that inquire our services for their kids ask a variety of questions. One question in particular is how can vision therapy help their child that is suffering from learning disabilities. This is a question that we enjoy answering and when the parents understand how it helps, they become more comfortable with the program.

Vision therapy helps children suffering from learning disabilities by assisting them early on in the stage to overcome the complaints that they currently have. Thanks to our amazing team, over time children become accustom to consistently developing and progressing.

Below is a list a visual skills important for success in the classroom. You’ll also find typical signs, actions, or behaviors displayed if any one of these skills is below the level necessary for academic achievement.

Eye Movement Skills (Ocular Motility)

These skills involve speed and coordination of visual tracking and scanning during reading and copying from the board. Difficulty with these skills may present during reading and other desk work.

If eye movements are slow and poorly controlled, this results in eyes that jump around, stutter, or cause the child to lose their place when reading or copying, and may make words look jumbled or “swimming”, which then leads to a reduction in the child’s level of efficiency and performance.

Signs of Potential Eye Movement Problems

  • Head turns when reading across page
  • Loses place frequently during reading
  • Requires finger to keep place when reading
  • Short attention span in reading or copying
  • Frequently omits words
  • Writes up- or downhill on paper
  • Skips or rereads lines unknowingly

Eye Teaming Skills (Binocularity)

This involves using both eyes together, smoothly, equally, and accurately as if the two eyes perform like one. Eye teaming, or binocularity is a skill that develops and is not guaranteed.

Children acquire these skills during early childhood and preschool years. If these skills don’t develop appropriately, this can lead to issues in spatial orientation, depth perception (3D vision), and blurred or double vision.

Signs of Potential Eye Teaming Problems

  • Squints, closes, or covers an eye
  • Repeats letters within words
  • Omits letters, numbers or phrases
  • Misaligns digits in columns
  • Tilts head or displays unusual posture during desk work

Eye Focusing Skills (Accommodation)

This allows a person to sustain clear vision/focus during desk work or activities up close. If properly developed, these skills also provide the ability to change focus from one distance to another, such as from a desk to the board.

Deficits in eye focusing are fairly common among school children and can disrupt a child’s ability to perform efficiently during desk work. A child will attempt to work for a period of time, but the focusing demands are often too great, so the child will give up, possibly act out and display behavior that appears as if they are inattentive or easily distracted.

Signs of Potential Eye Focusing Problems

  • Periods of blurry vision, especially during desk work
  • Difficulty keeping attention on reading or other near-point activities
  • Difficulty changing focus from near to far, such as from desk to the board
  • Jumbled words that may appear to move on the page
  • Headaches, or eye strain during near work

Eye-Hand Coordination Skills

Proper ability and proficiency of these skills depend on the development and integration of the eyes and hands as paired learning tools. The ability to visually discriminate size, texture, and shape emerge from these experiences.

Prior to the visual interpretation of words and numbers a solid foundation of eye-hand integration is necessary. If a child requires his hands for inspection and exploration, this could signal problems in this area of visual performance.

Signs of Potential Eye-Hand Problems

  • Needs to feel things to get the idea
  • Lack of orientation, placement of words or pictures on page
  • Writes crooked, poorly space and cannot stay on lines
  • Uses hand to control spacing and alignment on page

Visual Perceptual Processing

Visual perceptual skills are the visual cognitive processes that allow us to process and make sense out of the visual information we take in through our eyes. Visual perception plays a role in classroom tasks like reading, math, and spelling.

If a visual perceptual deficit is present, a child may display learning problems that involve difficultly recognizing, remembering and/or distinguishing differences between letters, numbers, and words.

Signs of Visual Perceptual Problems

  • Fails to recognize same words within a paragraph/page
  • Reverses letters and/or words in writing and copying
  • Displays difficulty recognizing small differences
  • Repeatedly confuses words with similar beginnings and endings
  • Fails to visualize what is read silently or aloud
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