Archive for the 'visual perception' Category

Puzzles, Parquetry and Writing: Visual Overload

Some children may experience “visual overload” when looking at the busy classroom, a cluttered worksheet, or even a busy blouse worn by their tutor!  Some suggestions to help these students:

  1.  1.Looking away behavior may be a sign of visual overload. Allow periodic breaks when working with visual assignments.
  2. 2. Monitor the lighting as fluorescent lighting can be fatiguing and can also create a glare on the paper. If sensitive to fluorescent lighting, try copying his work on blue, purple or yellow paper instead of white.
  3. When giving instructions, stand in an area that has reduced visual stimulation or have the student view you from an angle rather than from the front if you will be
    surrounded by visual distractions.
  4. If working with an individual child, monitor what you wear opting for softer colors and less patterned print.  As the child looks at you, make sure the area behind you is as uncluttered as possible.
  5. With visually demanding worksheets, fold the paper or block out parts of it using a ruler or index card.  Make sure copies are clearly printed.

Puzzles, Parquetry, and Writing: Paper Modifications

  1. 1. Check the color of the paper: Blue may be helpful for those with visual perceptual weaknesses.
  2. 2. Clearly mark the writing lines:  Anytime the writing lines  change either with color, width, or boldness, explain the difference to the child. With notebook paper it may be helpful to highlight every other space so that the child writes a line of words, skips a space, writes a line of words, etc.  This will help keep the tails of letters such as p, j, g, from interfering with word legibility on the next line.
  3. Mark on the desk where the paper should be placed.Slant of paper and placement does affect quality.
  4. If “hugging the left side of the paper” is a problem, first highlight the left margin of the
    page.  Encourage him to begin at the highlighted edge.  If he continues to
    move away from the highlighted left margin, move the left side of the paper to
    the body’s midline so the child works only in the right body space.
  5. Encourage the student to move the paper up as he writes closer to the bottom of the paper. Many students move their arm off the desk as they reach the bottom of the paper
    which affects legibility.  Encourage him to move his arm across the paper as well to improve legibility.
  6. Make your own paper strips and mark off boxes for each letter to be written in.  Help the child see the outline of the words by drawing around them before writing them.

Puzzles, Parquetry and Writing: Figure Ground Modifications

Figure Ground perception is the ability to see the details separate from a busy background.  Children with visual perceptual issues often have figure ground difficultlies.  I have observed a high incidence of this with ADD/ADHD children in my practice.  Here are suggestions I found helpful:

1.  Make sure an alphabet strip is on the desk.  A child may not be able to see the  isolated letters on a strip placed on a busy wall.

2. Scantron sheets may be a problem as the child moves from the question booklet to the answer sheet.  Allow the child to write in the question booklet rather than on the scantron sheet. If your child has visual tracking problems, try placing the question booklet at the top of the sheet rather than to the side.

3. Encourage desk organization early.  The student may not be able to “see” the pencil in the midst of clutter.

4. Highlight or write assignments in different colors on the board to separate them from other words. Otherwise, the student may miss homework assignments to be copied.

5. Highlight math signs if they change on a math worksheet. If the problems switch from addition to subtraction, have the student first highlight all the addition problems and work these first.

6. Block out portions of the worksheet by using an index card or ruler or by folding the
paper in half.

Puzzles, Parquetry and Writing: Math Modifications

For children with visual perceptual issues, math may be challenging!  Here are some suggestions:

Number charts: When using a number chart, many children with visual
perceptual weaknesses cannot distinguish individual numbers.  Adapt the chart by placing a space in between each line or row of numbers.

Lining up numbers: Many children have difficulty lining up rows of numbers as they solve math problems. Try graph paper or turn a piece of notebook paper sideways to create vertical columns. Graph paper may help with spacing but be aware that a student may be overwhelmed by the multiple lines.

Math Signs: Highlight math signs if they change on a math worksheet. If the problems switch from addition to subtraction, have the student first highlight all the addition problems and work these first.

Worksheets: Block out portions of the worksheet by using an index card or ruler or by folding the paper in half. This will help with “too much on the page”.

Visual horizontal tracking problem: If this exists, many children prefer to work their math worksheets from top to bottom (1, 11, 21, etc.) rather than side to side (horizontally 1
to 10).  Make the child’s teacher aware of the tracking issue so he is not penalized for “jumping around the page” or not following instructions.

Puzzles, Parquetry, and Writing: Modifications Art

Children who have visual perceptual issues as mentioned in previous blogs of this series may need help in art.  Here are some suggestions:

Be aware that drawing may be difficult.  Your child may not visualize the parts of the figure to be drawn.  For example: A house is a square plus a triangle plus rectangles for doors and windows.

1. Have a model for the child to copy from.

2.  If there are overlapping figures, make sure the child sees each figure and how they overlap. You may want to highlight each part.

3. Outline  the figure.

4. Talk your child through how to draw each part.  Model each part by drawing it as you talk.  Ask your child to draw that part.  Praise him!  Be sure your child is developmentally ready to draw that part.  For example do not expect an early four-year old to draw nice diagonals for the roof of the house.  Please see my earlier blogs for developmental skills at various ages for drawing.

5. Encourage step by step drawing. There are many commercially available books with simple figures broken down into steps for children.,, or google “step by step drawing for preschoolers” or “step by step drawing for kids”.

P.S. If your child has trouble coloring within the lines but loves to color, try a velvet poster!  They will have a lovely end product and will practice coloring. However, if you are having your child color for fine motor development, tracing around the outline of the form may be more effective than the coloring within the form.



Puzzles, Parquetry, and Writing: Solutions

  1. Ensure that it is not a physical visual problem by having a through eye examination.
  2. Have your child evaluated by a professional such as an occupational therapist or psychologists or developmental optometrists to determine what
    the issues might be.
  3. If a spatial concept is missing, make sure he understands it with his body first and then in toy play and finally with paper and pencil.
  4. If your child has high verbal skills, teach him to talk himself through activities. Use his stronger language to help pull up his weakness. For example if working on
    pegboard patterns, talk your child through the first placement of the rubber band on
    the pegs: “Jimmy, place the rubber band from the top of the board to the
    bottom of the board just like in the pattern”.
  5. Encourage puzzles, parquetry block patterns, geo-boards, “Find Waldo “books, perceptual apps
  6. Make adaptations for writing, art, and math as needed.  These will be discussed in the next blogs.

Puzzles and Writing: Problems?

Children who avoid puzzle and block play may develop visual perceptual issues.  It’s always important to have a child’s eyes checked for tracking, covergence, and accommodation besides acquity before attributing the avoidance to visual perceptual issues.  As we have talked about before, its extremely important to consider the developmental (not chronological) age of the child and his attention span as well.  Below is a list of observations noted when there is a visual perceptual issue in early elementary grades:

  1. Difficultyplacing letters on or between the lines correctly.
  2. Difficulty spacing between words or letters.
  3. Difficulty with reversals of letters and numbers (appropriate at certain age levels).
  4. Difficulty copying from the blackboard or overhead if there is a weakness  in memory or figure ground perception
  5. Difficulty forming rounded letters: letters may be flat on the bottom if
    he is distraced by the printed lines
  6. Difficulty visualizing the letter formations
  7. Difficulty finding objects or words on a busy blackboard or bulletin board.
  8. Difficulty finding objects or shapes which are alike or different
  9. Difficulty drawing simple pictures because he does not picture how
    how they look or cannot determine the shapes they are made of  (house is a square with a triangle roof).
  10. Difficulty with math, particularly lining up the numbers

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R