Living in the World of Visual Processing Difficulties

Middle school aged kid sitting at the table working on math homework. Resting hand on his hands covering one eye. A glass of orange juice is in front of him and there are an array of colored pencils on the table. There are protractors on the table
Cheri Moore

Written by Cheri Moore

January 21, 2022

Do you have any idea what your loved ones visually experience every day? Or, would you like for your loved ones to understand what it is like for you to live in the world of visual processing difficulties? If you replied unsure, no, or yes, the activity towards the end of this blog post provides you with a unique opportunity to experience the world of visual processing difficulties.

On Black Friday, I am releasing my new Toddler and Preschool Observation Activity Booklets. Also, from November 26-28 I am giving away a fun Holiday Visual Observation Activity for all ages for FREE. The activity will offer such a unique twist, it may become a new family tradition.

Visual Processing Difficulties Affect Visual Memory

Have you ever thought about the importance of seeing clearly and easily to create a memory? The holidays are coming! We definitely want our preschoolers, children, and teens to store up a treasure of family memories.

Little boy with visual processing difficulties on a sled going down hill with his mom. She has a dog on a leash behind them. Little boy's eyes are looking down and he looks worried. He is not holding onto the sled.
Little boy not enjoying sledding.
a little boy and girl on a sled in the snow. Both are smiling.
Children enjoying sledding.

Visual memory is a skill that develops throughout our preschool years into childhood. A skill taken for granted by most of us. That is until we realize we must work to remember. 

Oh no! I forgot everything I studied last night

Where did I park the car?

Drats! I forgot where I hid the present. 

Most of us think of memory as an age-related difficulty. However, memory difficulties occur in people of all ages: children, teenagers, young adults, adults, and older adults. I know, because that used to be me.

I distinctly remember being in second grade and realizing that it was difficult for me to remember my addition facts. Forty-three years passed before I fully understood why. My memory was so bad that I struggled to remember what I wanted to say. Never would I have dreamed that visual processing difficulties affect expressive speech. What I learned also helped me understand why I constantly moved, enjoyed gardening, and learned to read later than most children.

My World of Visual Processing Difficulties

Four years ago, I learned that my right eye floated up, amblyopia. Amblyopia disrupts communication between the brain and the eyes. After my diagnosis, my sister learned that her eye floated up. My brother also shared that when he looks at a word, the letters appear to move. Genetics explained our visual processing difficulties. The American Optometric Association shares the many causes and treatment options that teach the brain to learn how to use both eyes together.

My visual processing difficulties created an additional difficulty that will surprise most of you. During my childhood, I was given the nickname, chatterbox. Who gave me that now precious nickname? My older brother and sister who were teenagers when I was a preschooler. Unknown to my whole family, my visual world was confusing. I rarely looked at their facial expressions until I was older. Also, ear infections diminished my hearing affecting my brain development. Thus, talking out loud helped me process, think, and remember what I saw and heard.

When the brain lacks proper stimulation from what is seen and/or heard,

Movement helps the brain develop.

Movement maintains brain development.

Thankfully, our brain can respond to vision therapy and auditory integration training at any age. That is why stroke victims recover their ability to move and speak.

When I was 41 years old, three auditory integration training programs, 10 days long and 3 months apart, improved my sound tolerance. I developed an inner voice. Over time, it was much easier to listen and then respond.

At age 51, vision therapy lifted visual suppression that existed in both of my eyes. After vision therapy, the print stayed clear and single regardless of how long I read. I am so thankful to no longer live in the world of visual processing difficulties.

Do you understand your loved one’s visual world?

Understanding a loved one’s visual experiences helps you meet their physical and emotional needs. Nobody outgrows visual processing difficulties. What you need depends on your type of visual processing difficulties, your eye health, and how well you see. 

For example, preschoolers who have difficulty turning both eyes inward together enjoy creating abstract art on blank paper. However, they avoid coloring a picture. If forced, they get through the assignment. The lines in a coloring book can appear to shift making coloring inside the lines frustrating.

For the past month, I have shared how you can encourage and observe eye movement and visual development, as well as recognize visual processing difficulties. During my years of teaching special education, I saw smart preschoolers and students struggle. My search for answers intensified when my own children struggled to learn despite their intelligence. What I learned ended up helping me, my family, and countless other families. It is a privilege to share what I have learned with you.

As a parent, it is difficult to understand why your child has not grown out of XYZ… Or why they simply cannot do fill in the blank. That is why I encourage you to complete the challenge below to find out what it may be like for your child living in the world of visual processing difficulties.

How Toddler’s Behaviors and Emotions Speak Loudly about Visual Difficulties

toddler aged boy crawling up the stairs with his mother behind him. He is squinting and looking up the staircase. The stars are wooden and very airy and open. There is a wooden railing on both sides. The mom is bent over with one hand on the railing and one hand protectively reaching down.

Your toddler’s behaviors and emotions may be a clue that they are experiencing vision difficulties which contribute to learning difficulties as they grow up.

How to Encourage Eye Movement Skills in Toddlers

three pictures of a little girl playing on the floor with peppermints with an orange background and black text

Learn how to encourage eye movement skills in toddlers through purposeful play, observation tips, and a list of visual skills.

How to Encourage and Observe Baby’s Eye Movements

baby girl wearing a hoodie and hat laying on her belly outside on a blanket. She is in front of a gray house. She is at the edge of the blanket holding a blade of grass with one hand. She is intently inspecting the grass.

Learning how to encourage and observe your baby’s eye movements helps you become aware of their eye movement skills as they grow.

My video, The Link Between Vision and Hearing, shows and explains the many different types of visual processing skills and difficulties. Knowledge is helpful. However, experiencing the world of visual processing difficulties will result in a level of understanding impossible for me to put in words.

The Challenge: Living in the World of Visual Processing Difficulties

Supplies:

  • Table
  • 2 chairs
  • 2 glasses of water
  • Book
  • Lined paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Sneakers with laces
  • Empty floor space
  • 5-8 stuffed animals
  • Laundry basket

Directions: Recreate the World of Someone Living With Visual Processing Difficulties

First, borrow eyeglasses worn by someone else and find a helper.

If able, ask your helper to read the rest of the directions. A more realistic experience of visual processing difficulties occurs when you do not know the tasks and questions. Keep the glasses on until you have completed all of the activities. Of course, do not make yourself sick with a headache or stomach ache. Now stop reading and hand over the directions to your helper.

Helper, give the instructions and observe the person’s visual processing skills and/or difficulties. There are many observation tips below. Only help when asked. You may need to clean up a mess or two. Encourage the person wearing the glasses to help clean up. That is what a parent would ask of their child. Helper, please ask the participant the questions after the completion of each task.

Reasons to stop the challenge: feeling nauseous, a headache starting to develop, or too much emotional distress. Typically, you start to feel better within minutes of taking off the eyeglasses. Take a minute to close your eyes. Then, drink a glass of water to reset your brain. If you continue to struggle, you may have visual processing difficulties.

Task 1: Drink water

Observation Tip: Learn about their emotional health by observing their body language.

Helper-Ask the participant to put on someone else’s eyeglasses. Go ahead and sit two glasses of water on the table. Make sure your glass is on the opposite side of the table so you can easily observe. Then, invite them over to the table for a drink. Watch how they walk, sit in a chair, pick up the glass of water, and drink. After they take a drink, ask the questions below.

Glass of water sitting on a wooden table with a black wall in the background. There is a second glass of water overlayed over the first but slightly to the left and up to show a visual processing difficulty, double vision.
  • Were you able to easily reach out with confidence to pick up the glass of water?
  • What did you see?

Task 2: Read from a Book

Observation Tip: Watch their head and eye movement. Did their head move more than their eyes? Did they read fluently? Are they using their finger to keep their place?

Helper-Place a book or magazine article on the table. Instruct them to read one paragraph or a whole page out loud.

When they finish reading ask:

  • What do you remember about what you read?
  • Can they answer a recall question? Do you know the name of the character, town, pet, etc..
  • Ask about something that is indirectly shared like the mood or time of year indicated by weather.

Task 3: Copywork

Observation Tip: Watch their eye movement and body posture.

Helper-Give them a pencil and piece of paper. Have them write their name and copy a sentence from a book or magazine. Meanwhile, write a sentence on a separate piece of paper. Make sure that what you write is large enough for them to see from about 5 feet away. Then, tape or hold the paper up somewhere in front of them about 3 to 5 feet away. Once they are done copying the sentence from the book, ask them to copy your sentence onto their paper. When they are finished ask:

  • How do your eyes and head feel?
  • Are you tired?
  • Would you like to move?

Task 4: Putting on Sneakers

Observation Tip: Once again, observe their emotional health. Signs of emotional distress are: taking a deep breath once or several times; needing to sit up before finishing the task one or more times; and reaching out with a hand to improve balance and feelings of safety.

Helper-It is time to move! Go get your lace-up sneakers and put them on. After they put them on, ask:

  • How did it feel to bend over?
woman putting on and tying a pair of black sneakers with pink laces. You can only see half of her shins, feet, forearms and hands. She is wearing a white watch and has pink fingernails. Her feet are pointed to the left. There is a wooden floor below her feet.

Task 5: Laundry Basketball

Observation Tip: Does the person avoid bending over or moving?

Helper-place a laundry basket on one side of the room. Place the stuffed animals in a pile on the floor opposite of the laundry basket. Allow the participant to choose the distance and instruct them to throw the stuffed animals into the basket one at a time. Ask them:

  • Do you want to keep playing?
  • Was bending over easy?
  • How hard was it to judge the distance? (Difficult if they missed more than they made a basket.)

Task 6: Play Catch

Observation Tip: Watch their hands to learn if they come together too early or too late.

Helper-take a stuffed animal from the laundry basket and play catch with the participant. Afterward, ask them:

  • Were you able to instinctively move to catch the stuffed animal?
  • After I threw the animal, how many animals did you see coming towards you

You are done! Wow, visual processing difficulties transform everyday tasks into real work. What is your energy level? Would you like to survive day after day working hard to do everything: see, move, talk, write, dress, eat, play, etc.? After school, would you want to do homework?

Visual Processing Difficulties are Not Outgrown

Children with visual processing difficulties are amazing. How they cope and adapt to their challenges takes a lot of tenacity. It also takes a lot of work. Hard work that should be recognized by their loved ones.

However, they should not have to live in their current reality forever. As parents, it is our job to advocate for our children and seek solutions. It has become my passion to help parents find answers for their children.

I would love to help you take the next step in helping your child or loved one. You can schedule a free 30 minute consult with me by clicking here.

Learn More About Visual Processing Difficulties

If you want to learn more about what life looks like through the eyes of your loved one, then I encourage you to complete one of the Moore Auditory Observation Activities Booklets. Learn what to observe and how to observe.

I created Moore Auditory-Visual Observation Booklets to help parents understand the reality in which their loved one is living. Only then can you meet your loved one’s physical and emotional needs.

Build a stronger relationship with your loved one as you: “see” through activities and “hear” through their answers how their world “looks and feels” through their “eyes and ears.”

Cheri Moore

Moore Auditory Integration Training Community

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