A.M. Skeffington, an American optometrist known to some as “the father of behavioral optometry”, believed that vision cannot be separated from the total individual nor from any of the sensory systems because it is integrated into all human performance. His model describes how visual processes mesh with auditory input, proprioception, kinesthesia and body sense. Visual perception is, therefore, not obtained from vision alone. It comes from combining visual skills with all other sensory modalities, including the vestibular and proprioceptive systems.
It is important that a child experiences visual perception through their own body before progressing to 3D activities (blocks, shape games, etc.) and pen and paper tasks (worksheets). Here are some grouped activities that can be used to work on visual perception. These activities can be used during therapy sessions or incorporated as part of a program for home or school.
- Form Constancy and Visual Discrimination
- Figure Ground Perception
- Position in Space and Spatial Relationships
- Visual Closure and Visual Analysis and Synthesis
- Visual Memory and Visual Sequential Memory
This article addresses 1 and 2 and Part 2 will address 3 through 5.
Form Constancy and Visual Discrimination
Form Constancy is the ability to accurately recognize and interpret that a form or object remains the same despite changes in its presentation such as size, direction, orientation, color, texture or context.
Visual Discrimination is the ability to identify differences and similarities between shapes, symbols, objects and patterns by their individual characteristics and distinctive features.
- Take a box of plastic shapes (found in numerous commercially available games) and sort them out according to size, color, and shape.
- Jump on shape stepping stones (make the stepping stones different sizes and different colors of the same shape).
- Play shape twister.
- Play shape statues – make a shape with your body or with your friends when the music stops playing.
- Search certain objects on command (look for all the blue objects, look for all the square shaped objects).
- Run to certain objects that are similar, for example, run to something that is the same shape as the door.
- I spy (something round, something smaller than the table or my book).
- Have a number of objects on the table and identify which is the largest, thickest, fullest etc.
- Feely bag – ask the pupils to describe a shape or object or plastic letter by feeling it without looking, then describe it again when they can see it.
- Object matching using everyday objects (different toothbrushes, different cups, different books – have the child group them).
- Let your child match socks while you sort and fold your clean laundry.
- Use bendable things such as pipe cleaners to form letters and shapes. Feeling a shape can help a child visualize or “see” the shape). The letters can then be glued onto index cards. The child can touch them to “feel” the shape of the letter.
Figure Ground Perception
Figure Ground perception is the ability to screen out irrelevant visual material in order to concentrate on the important stimulus, i.e., to perceive and locate a form or object within a busy field without getting confused by the background or surrounding images.
- Play Jenga.
- Place a stuffed animal somewhere in the room and have the child find it.
- Find two magnetic letters that are the same in a box full of magnetic letters.
- Place number or alphabet cards around the room and have the child point to the letters and recite them in order.
- Play “I’m thinking of something in the room that is…(for example, “small and green”). The child searchers for the item (use hot/cold cues).
- Ask the child to find a person in the cafeteria or on the playground.
- Play “I Spy” with a paper towel tube. Spot objects around the room.
- Make a large scribble on the board, the child traces over it.
- Untangle a loose knot of different colored yarns.
- While looking at a picture in a story book say, “I see something that is yellow, green and red.” Ask your child to identify what you are looking at.
Stay tuned for Visual Perception Activities, Part 2.