Visual-perceptual Weaknesses Associated with Academic Delays

Visual-Perceptual Weaknesses

- Slow to discriminate shapes, as in trying to put a circle into a square hole (visual discrimination problem)
- Confuses left and right
- Poor spatial judgment, as in discriminating bigger from smaller objects or the right screw to fit into a hole
- Difficulty estimating time, being on time
- Poor sense of direction (takes forever to learn one's way around a new place; gets lost in a new house)
- Difficulty judging speed and distance (as in athletic activities, driving a car)
- Poor visual imagery; can't perceive the end product in puzzles and mazes, or becomes confused with computer game graphics
- Difficulty conceptualizing higher-level math concepts
- Trouble interpreting maps, graphs, charts, and diagrams
- Trouble perceiving the body language and subtleties in social communication; doesn't pick up on others' moods and feelings
- Trouble getting the main idea or focusing on the whole; focuses on details instead
- A busy background interferes with focusing on the most important stimulus, as in busy worksheets or spotting one's friend in a crowd (figure-ground problem)
- Trouble finding embedded figures, as in a word search or spotting a keyword in a paragraph
- Poor visual memory for shapes and sequences of objects, letters, and numbers
- Trouble choosing a missing piece to complete a figure or design (as in a puzzle) or spotting a critical element in a story
- Trouble perceiving which pieces fit together to make a whole, as in a model or developing a story line
- Often loses things, cannot spot objects "in plain sight"
- Difficulty spotting errors in one's own work
- Difficulty planning and organizing one's day or work
- Difficulty perceiving strategies for success in games

Motor Functions That Can Be Affected by Visual- Perceptual Weaknesses

- Delays in learning to copy designs and letters; many inaccuracies
- Slow and poorly executed handwriting; dislikes and avoids writing
- Papers are messy and incomplete; many crossouts and erasures
- Difficulty remembering shapes of letters and numbers, and which way they face when writing (reversals and rotations)
- Uneven spacing between letters and words
- Plans space poorly when drawing, doing projects, copying
- Omits letters from words and words from sentences when writing or copying
- Poor spelling because can't remember how words should look (spells phonetically)
- Poor alignment of math problems results in computation errors
- Poor drawing of human figures
- Poor manual skills and sloppy work
- Clumsy gait and body movements (bumps into furniture and doorways)
- Slow reaction time (as in slowness reacting to a traffic signal change or yelling "bingo")
- Poor balance due to spatial judgment problems
- Awkward finer-motor movements, as in typing
- Performance IQ lower than Verbal IQ

Language Functions That Can Be Affected by Visual- Perceptual Weaknesses

- Misreads similar-looking letters and words (b and d, m and w, bread and beard)
- Reversal of letter sequences in reading and spelling (was and saw; on and no)
- Difficulty recognizing and remembering sight words, but can sound out words phonetically
- Loses place when reading
- Has trouble finding letters in words or words in sentences
- Poor memory for printed words, number sequences, diagrams, maps, illustrations
- Poor comprehension of main ideas and themes
- Confuses "right" and "left"
- Difficulty memorizing math facts, formulas, equations
- Trouble "getting to the point" (becomes bogged down in details; can describe portico of a building but not the building's overall style and shape)

- Excerpt from Learning Disabilities: The Interaction of Students and their Environments, by C.R. Smith, 2004 edition, p. 130-131.
© 2004, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. All rights reserved.

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