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A closer look at good visual processing skills

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Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010 12:00 am

What is visual processing?

This term refers to a group of skills necessary for interpreting and understanding what is seen. Accurate and smooth visual processing is essential for success in school and, as recent research indicates, in interpersonal interactions as well.

How does visual processing skill help us to succeed in school?

Most learning – nearly 80 percent of what we perceive, remember and comprehend – is visual.

Remembering what we see (visual memory) and taking accurate notes (visual motor integration) are two examples of learning-related tasks that require skill in visual processing.

What does research tell us about interpersonal interactions and visual processing skills?

A recent Durham (England) University study of autistic individuals suggests deficits in visual processing skills and an inability to accurately perceive certain patterns of motion. This may hinder autistic individuals’ ability to perceive certain emotions when observing body language, and may be an underlying cause of social interaction difficulties experienced by some such individuals.

According to Dr. Anthony Atkinson, who led the study: “The way people move their bodies tells us a lot about their feelings or emotions, and we use this information on a daily basis to communicate with each other. We use others’ body movements and postures, as well as peoples’ faces and voices, to gauge their feelings. People with autism seem to be less able to use these clues to make accurate judgments about how others are feeling.

“Our findings point to a difficulty in perceiving or attending to motion as a contributor to the problem of gauging people’s emotions.”

Can visual processing skills be improved?

Vision therapy can effectively improve visual processing skills, whether in typically developing individuals or those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A Vision Therapy Evaluation is an important first step.

 

Ahwatukee Foothills’ Eye Priority PC provides general optometry services, developmental optometric evaluations and customized vision therapy programs. Contact them at www.eyepriority.com or (480) 893-2300. 

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