How Do I Recognize Visual Processing Disorder?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 18 December 2018
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Diagnosis of a visual processing disorder is often a complicated process. Though there are many symptoms of these disorders, these symptoms are often difficult to connect to the disorder itself. Additionally, many people who are diagnosed with these disorders are quite young and may have trouble explaining what their symptoms are. In most cases, recognizing one of these disorders involves examining the eyes and testing the patient's ability to process different types of visual information.

The easiest type of visual processing disorder to detect is one that is caused by a problem with the eyes themselves. Schools and pediatricians often check for deficiencies in sight periodically. In adults, blurry vision may prompt a visit to the optometrist who can diagnose one of these disorders.

A visual processing disorder caused by a problem with the brain or the connection between the brain and the eyes can be much harder to detect. There are many types of these disorders, and each displays different symptoms. Though many of these conditions can appear similar to general learning disabilities, examining the specific problems a student has can help lead to a correct diagnosis and proper treatment.


One common visual processing disorder is one of discrimination. People with this disorder may have difficulty telling the difference between letters, numbers, shapes, or colors that are similar to one another. Other people may have trouble correctly identifying the order of letters or numbers, which can manifest as difficulty keeping one's place while reading or misreading words or numbers. This disorder is one of visual sequencing.

It is also possible for a visual processing disorder to interfere with a person's ability to interact with the environment. Problems with visual motor processing can cause difficulty with both fine and gross motor skills. A problem understanding the spacial relationships between objects and between objects and the observer can also lead to problems with coordination and motor skills.

Some people may have trouble knowing what an object is when it is partially hidden. This type of visual processing disorder is one of visual closure. A problem in telling the difference between a figure and the background it appears on can also indicate a problem with a person's visual processing.

Visual memory can also be affected by disorders of visual processing. These disorders can affect the short term or long term memory. People with these disorders may have trouble remembering phone numbers, how to spell common words, or what they have just read.


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