Occupational Therapy: At Home Visual Perceptual Skills Support

Occupational Therapy: At Home Visual Perceptual Skills Support

As children engage in daily activities, you may not realize all of the visual perceptual skills they need to complete tasks.

Playing sports, doing puzzles, drawing, reading, completing math problems, even finding socks on the floor all require focused attention and good visual perceptual skills – not to mention that completing everyday tasks builds self-esteem and increases the ability to learn new things. 

What Are Visual Perceptual Skills?

Visual perceptual skills are the cognitive abilities that allow us to interpret and understand visual information from our environment. These skills involve processing and organizing visual stimuli to make sense of what we see and to make judgments about spatial relationships, patterns, and other visual aspects. 

How can my child build visual perceptual skills at home?

Visual Perceptual Skill

At-Home Activities

Visual figure ground

Finding a specific item in a cluttered environment, such as finding something in the toy box or junk drawer

Use ‘find the hidden pictures' workbooks/scenes, “Where's Waldo” books

Visual memory

the ability to remember something that was seen once it is no longer in sight, such as visualizing the notes you studied, or the empty pantry while at the grocery store

Play memory games, place a tray of items in front of each other and try to memorize the objects after observing them for a set time and taking them away, recall the day together

Visual Sequential Memory

The ability to distinguish the order of visual stimuli such as words on a page or a combination to a lock

Beading with string- offer each other five different colored beads and say a particular sequence to follow (blue, yellow, purple, green, white), make up a short dance together with hand gestures

Visual Form Constancy

The ability to distinguish one object from another even when it changes it size, position or is in a different environment, such as telling the difference between the letters “b” and “d”

Sorting activities (sort by categories, color, size, texture), Ispy (find all the round objects in the room)

Visual Spatial Relations

The ability to understand where objects are in the environment in relation to ourselves and other objects, such as the spacing between words, completing an obstacle course, and even walking through a crowd without bumping into others

Crawling/jumping under, over, and through objects without touching them, imitating each other's dance moves

Visual closure

The ability to identify an item when only part of it is showing, for example, reading a word or sentences without focusing on each letter, a stop sign covered by a branch

Jig-saw puzzles, “Guess the___” books, by Kari Noel, hide part of an object/picture and play a guessing game

Visual Motor Coordination/Integration

The ability to correctly perceive visual information, process it, and move your hands or body accordingly, essential connective and coordination of what our eyes see with what your body does, such as writing vocabulary words from the board on paper, catching a ball, getting soup into your mouth.

Completing maxes, tracing shapes/pictures, playing with legos/stacking blocks, playing Jenga

Visual discrimination

The ability to identify detail, finding the slight differences in items, for example, identifying the difference between coins

Play ‘spot it,' play ‘which one doesn't belong' with pictures/objects that have slight differences (toys, food, animals)

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy (OT) is a healthcare profession focused on helping individuals of all ages develop, maintain, or regain the skills necessary to participate in their daily activities or "occupations." Occupational therapists (OTs) work with clients facing various physical, cognitive, emotional, or developmental challenges to help them achieve their goals and maintain or improve their quality of life. OT interventions may include modifying the environment, teaching new skills, or adapting tasks to better suit the individual's needs.

Occupational therapists are trained to help children build and integrate focused attention (the ability to concentrate on one activity for a specified period of time) and visual perceptual skills (how the brain processes information that's seen). Most children develop these naturally, completing the “occupations” they engage in every day – play and learning. But some children need help.

Signs your child may need support from an Occupational Therapist

Your child may need specialized support if you notice difficulties in the following areas: 

  • finding items, especially in clusters
  • remembering visual information
  • identifying patterns
  • recognizing small differences between pictures or letters (confusing /b/ and /d/)
  • movement activities, such as hopscotch, kicking a ball, playing sports with peers
  • putting together puzzles
  • drawing and copying pictures or shapes
  • keeping place when reading or writing

Individuals learn best through functional, meaningful, everyday tasks and experiences- you can fold clothes together, sort coins or candy into piles, play dress-up, learn a new sport together, make it fun! 

If you would like to improve your child's focused attention via functional tasks that have meaning to them, then occupational therapy is a good fit.

Written by Dr. Cari Whitlock

Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist at Healthy Young Minds

Explore HYM

About Us
All Blogs