What Are Visual Skills?
Visual skills are divided into different categories. These include:
* Visual Acuity: This describes a child's clarity of vision at near (when reading) and at far (when looking across the classroom).
* Visual Efficiency: This describes how efficiently a child is able to use her vision. It involves how well the eyes move together and sustain focus.
* Visual Perception: This describes the brain's ability to make sense of what the eyes see.
* Visual Motor Skills: This describes how vision guides hand movements.
Why Are Visual Skills Important?
Vision is one of the most important ways in which children interact with his environment. It is a key modality through which kids learn: A child sees information, processes date in his brain, and draws conclusions upon which future understanding and decisions are based. For example, learning to read is a process that relies heavily on vision. A child uses vision to recognize a letter. As this letter is processed in the brain, visual, memory, and auditory centers work to recognize the letter and recall the sound it makes.
What is Visual Efficiency?
Visual efficiency describes how efficiently a child's eyes work. Do the eyes move smoothly to scan the child's classroom? Can the eyes follow a moving target? Do the eyes converge (come together to focus) when a child is looking at worksheets or when reading a book? As teachers, parents, and OT's, we can work to improve a child’s ability to scan his or her environment (Visual Scanning). Visual efficiency concerns are addressed by developmental optometrists. (Note: Visual Efficiency is different from Visual Acuity which must be addressed by an eye doctor.)
What is Visual Perception?
Often addressed in occupational therapy, visual perception is a child’s ability to make sense of visual information. It includes several areas:
* Visual Discrimination - when a child notices details about objects
* Visual Closure - imagining what a completed object looks like when it is
partially covered or obstructed
* Visual Figure Ground - finding an object in a cluttered environment
* Visual Memory - remembering and recognizing details of objects
* Visual Spatial Abilities - noticing the relations of objects to each other
Visual Motor Skills?
Visual motor skill describes when a child uses vision to guide hand movements. This is seen when cutting on a line, coloring within the lines, and carefully copying letters. When a child has trouble with visual motor skill, handwriting, drawing, and any types of craft activities can be terribly frustrating. Activities that improve visual motor skill involve tasks in which kids must carefully watch their hand movements as when stringing Cheerios, completing lacing cards, or stacking blocks.
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