People are bombarded with information in a variety of different ways on a daily basis. The information comes to us visually through written words, pictures and other media, and also through auditory means such as the spoken word. Sometimes the body cannot process one or more of these types of information correctly. This can be due to a visual processing disorder, an auditory processing disorder or both.
There are different types of visual processing disorders, and they are most commonly recognized in childhood. This is because so much information given in schools is provided in a visual manner, including notes written on a chalkboard, test papers and textbooks. The symptoms of this disorder vary depending upon the specific type of the disorder a person has, and in children may manifest as bad or disruptive behavior. The only way to be sure that a person is suffering from some form of visual processing disorder is to visit a licensed medical professional.
One type of visual processing disorder is the inability to recognize familiar objects. A person may only see or recognize part of an object, or not recognize the object at all. For children, this may mean being unable to recall a number learned one day and shown to them the next.
Visual spatial processing disorder is when a person cannot distinguish spacing between two or more objects, or their relationship to one another. A person with this type of disorder may find it hard to distinguish between the letters "p" and "q," for example, as they both take up the same space, but are reversed. They also may find it hard to distinguish if part or all of an object or word is missing. A doorknob may be missing from a door, but a person with this disorder might not notice and keep trying to open the door as if it had a knob.
Visual motor processing disorder, which can be accompanied by any of the other varieties, is the inability of a person to orient himself in space around objects and navigate them accordingly. Such a person may be labeled “clumsy” or “klutzy” because he bumped into or knocked over objects that he did not recognize were there. This can affect all areas of a person's life, and is one of the biggest safety hazards for those with visual processing disorders. A person with a visual motor processing disorder might, for example, put their hand on the hot burner of a stovetop when instead they thought they were setting their hand on a countertop.
When working with children who have visual processing disorder, a number of steps can be taken in the classroom to accommodate this learning disability. Large print books and media used to block out unnecessary visual information may be utilized. Paper with raised lines may help them write. Removing unnecessary information from worksheets and handouts, as well as altering an instructor's teaching style so that it is more auditory-based, also helps a child with this disorder succeed.
If a visual processing disorder is suspected, it is best to consult a doctor or licensed medical practitioner, who may then refer the person to a specialist for testing. This condition is considered a learning disability, as well as a sensory impairment, and accommodations in school or on the job should be made accordingly. Working with a specialist is usually the recommended course of action.