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Visual Perception

What is Visual Perception?

Visual perception is the process of the brain interpreting and processing information received by the eyes. Adequate vision and visual skills are important for visual perception, however, it is important to note that even if a child has 2020 vision, they can still display problems with visual perception.

Why is visual perception important? 

Adequate visual perception skills are very important for everyday tasks such as reading, playing, drawing, dressing, completing math problems, cooking, dressing and many other activities. Without the skills or abilities to properly complete these tasks, the child’s academic and play performance may be affected.

Categories of Visual perception:

How to tell if a child has problems with visual perception? 

If a child has problems with visual perceptions they may have difficulty:

  • With being able to match or name the basic shapes

  • With being able to match or name the basic colours

  • Differentiating between size (i.e smallest, biggest, narrow, wide)

  • In sequencing letters or numbers

  • Dressing (e.g matching shoes or socks)

  • Organising personal belongings

  • Identifying and naming all body parts

  • Counting and with concepts of quantity (e.g most, least, empty, full)

  • Judging speed and distance - required for safety around roads.

  • Finding items in a busy space.

If left untreated what can happen? 

Left untreated, poor visual perceptual skills can set a child behind in their academic life, as learning to read, write and other important skills are impacted. This may lead;

  • To poor self-esteem when comparing themselves with their classmates

  • Difficulties in completing self care tasks independently, such as dressing

  • An avoidance in participating in activities that require visual perceptual skills

  • Frustration when performing precise eye and hand tasks

  • To difficulty in organising belongings

  • To difficulties in completing activities without getting distracted

  • Poor handwriting skills

  • Reading difficulties.

How can Occupational Therapists help? 

Occupational Therapists (OTs) can assess a child's visual perceptual difficulties and strengths to plan an effective therapeutic intervention. OTs can suggest activities for the child and the use of prompts that suit their learning needs.

Activities to improve visual perceptual skills: 
  1. Put blocks in order of smallest to largest

  2. Make a block tower

  3. Picture memory game where the child looks at a card with different shapes on it and then has to remember the shapes when the cards are turned over

  4. Fix jumbled up words so that they are in the correct order

  5. Paint a beach ensuring there is sand at the bottom of the page, water in the middle and the sky at the top of the page.

  6. Connect the dots worksheet to make a drawing

  7. Match the snowflake worksheet (eg same /different)

  8. Draw the missing side of a picture or shape on grid paper

  9. Hidden picture games such as “Where’s Wally”

  10. Display a picture and then cover it up. Ask the child questions to see how much they remember from the picture. For e.g 'what colour was the lady's shoes' or 'how many trees were in the background'?

  11. Spot the difference activities.

  12. Same and different activities.


Ortibus, E. L., De Cock, P. P., & Lagae, L. G. (2011). Visual perception in preterm children: What are we currently measuring? Pediatric Neurology, 45(1), 1-10.


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