In our previous articles, we discussed the first four skills in the Visual Perceptual Skill Set:
· Visual Attention
· Visual Discrimination
· Position in Space
· Visual Spatial Relations
· Visual Memory
· Visual Sequential Memory
· Visual Form Constancy
· Visual Closure
· Figure Ground
It was apparent that these skills set the stage for our ability to pay attention to our tasks, as well as to understand what our bodies can do and how we can manipulate them through space.
We will continue on our journey of discovery by taking a look at the next two visual perceptual skills:
Visual Memory and Visual Sequential Memory.
5. Visual Memory is our ability to recall and store visual details in our short-term memory for use during automatic tasks such as handwriting, reading, and math. It allows us to recognize the differences between the shapes and sizes of letters, to remember sight words, and to comprehend what we have read. Visual memory is often described as a process by which we see an object in our “mind’s eye” and then retrieve a memory of that object in order to mentally identify it.
(1) Difficulty keeping up with his peers during handwriting tasks, needing to frequently “think about” the formation of the letters that form a word.
(2) Difficulty copying from the board or a book, frequently losing his place and stopping to find the location of the last word he has written.
(3) Demonstrates diminished comprehension after reading an age-appropriate story.
(4) Difficulty following verbal directions that include over two-steps, usually only performing the last step that was provided to him.
(5) Demonstrates boredom and/or confusion during class or home work, tending to act as thought he was not interested in the task.
(1) Memory games, either board games or on-the-spot activities, provide “exercise” for the brain’s short-term memory. Memory games can be constructed with everyday household items, such as feeding utensils, family photos, or crayons. Have the child look at them, name them verbally, and write them down, if he can. If he is a beginning writer, have him draw a simple picture of each to enhance his memory. Then, hide the items under a cloth and ask him to list them without using his vision.
(2) Copying pattern designs provides opportunities for children to use their visual short-term memory as they remember the colors or shapes that comprise the design. Manipulatives, such as beads or blocks, enhance the development of visual memory by adding visual-motor input.
(3) Ask questions frequently that require the use of short-term memory, such as “What equipment did you use on the playground today?” It also helps to reinforce any written directions with verbal ones, asking the child to repeat them to you to ensure that he has understood and remembered them.
6. Visual Sequential Memory is our ability to remember a series of numbers, letters, or objects that have been presented visually and to recall that sequence accurately. We use this skill every day as we recall phone numbers or spell words such as “their” and “there.”
a. Children who have difficulty with visual sequential memory will often exhibit these signs:
(1) Difficulty remembering the alphabet or numbers in sequence.
(2) Difficulty sequencing letters in familiar words or numbers in a math problem.
(3) Difficulty copying from the board or a book without frequent errors.
(4) Difficulty recalling the sequence of events in a story or a familiar activity.
(5) Difficulty performing math problems.
b. Activities that enhance visual sequential memory include:
(1) Word search puzzles require a child to remember the sequence of letters that comprise the spelling of the word that he is locating on the page.
(2) Board games that use numbers, letters, or words, such as bingo, provide opportunities to recall the shapes of letters and sequence of numbers or words.
(3) Movement games, such as Duck-Duck-Goose or Red Light-Green Light, require the child to remember the sequence of activities that comprise the rules of the game, as well as provide motor movement to enhance the development of memory skills.
Once again, it is clear to “see” that our vision skills are key facets in learning and literacy.
In the words of vision experts, 80% of what you perceive, comprehend and remember depends on the efficiency of the visual system. And that makes vision an important detail to never overlook!
Please join us for the final segment in our journey of discovery as we unwrap the secrets of the Visual Form Constancy, Visual Closure, and Figure Ground skills! Thanks for reading!
Did you miss Parts 1 and 2? You can get them here!
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who owns and operates a clinic that specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.