How to choose a school for children with visual processing disorders

Visual Processing Disorders and School Options

Child Learning Challenges

Choosing a school for a child with a visual processing disorder

Options to help children with visual processing disorders in school:

  • Deliver lessons in multiple ways 
  • Include multi-sensory feedback
  • Use tablets and touch-type computers
  • Use an object to lead the eyes for reading
  • Use large print books or papers
  • Allow for frequent breaks
  • Find a note-taking buddy

There are many kinds of learning disorders that can make it challenging for children to read. One common condition is called visual processing disorder, which is how the brain processes visual information. It means a child with 20/20 vision may not be able to distinguish between objects, symbols, or shapes on a page.

All children with visual processing disorders face different challenges, but they can be taught strategies that will allow them to learn and reach the same milestones as their peers.

We discuss visual processing disorders, the challenges children face, and how The American Academy at American Heritage Schools can help children learn and thrive.

Defining visual processing disorders

Visual processing disorders have nothing to do with eyesight. With these types of disorders, children have trouble processing visual input. In other words, they have trouble interpreting the things they see.

There are several different types of visual processing disorders. Some children struggle with numbers and shapes, while others have trouble distinguishing between colors or sizes. A child may even struggle with spatial awareness, making it difficult to judge the distance between objects. In this case, the child might appear to be clumsy or uncoordinated.

These challenges can make it difficult to read and learn. Physical activities can also be a challenge. If your child has a visual processing disorder, he or she may also struggle to stay focused in class or when doing schoolwork.


5 Types of visual processing disorders

It is important to understand the varied nature of visual processing disorders. Let’s discuss the types of disorders and what they mean in terms of challenges.

1. Spatial difficulty
A child might have difficulty processing the location of objects or symbols in a space. There may be directional issues or reversing/confusing letters and numbers.

2. Visual discrimination 
With this disorder, a child may struggle to identify objects from an image. There may also be issues distinguishing between different objects, particularly those of similar size, color, and shape.

3. Visual agnosia
This type of disorder usually manifests as a problem recognizing and naming objects consistently. It can make reading and math more difficult.

4. Visual closure
Children with visual closure cannot identify an object just because they cannot see 100% of it. 

5. Visual motor integration
Another aspect of a visual processing disorder is its effect on motor skills. A child might lack hand-eye coordination or be clumsy and fall a lot. This can make sports or other physical activities more difficult. 

Signs of visual processing disorders:

  • Easily distracted, restless or inattentive during visual presentations
  • Sloppiness when completing visual tasks
  • Misreads numbers, letter, or words
  • Frequently bumps into things
  • Trouble writing within lines or margins
  • Skips words, sentences, or lines when reading
  • Complains about eye irritation or pain when reading (rubs eyes) 
  • Below average reading comprehension and math skills

Classroom accommodations and learning tools

A child with a visual processing disorder can learn and succeed academically in school. These disorders are not a measure of intelligence or capability. With the right classroom accommodations and learning tools, children can thrive in school.

Options & tools:

  • Delivering lessons or task instructions in multiple ways 
  • Multi-sensory feedback
  • Using tablets and touch-type computers
  • Using objects to lead the eyes when reading
  • Large print books or papers
  • Frequent breaks
  • Help students find a note-taking buddy

Helping children with visual processing disorders

There is a lot to learn when it comes to educating students with visual processing disorders. The American Academy program offers specialized individual and targeted attention for students with learning challenges, including ADHD, dyslexia, and other conditions.

We also want to give you the tools to help your child overcome challenges and succeed in school and in life. You can watch episodes of our latest episode on Experts in Learning Differences, A Speaker Series hosted by The American Academy. Our goal is to help educate families about learning differences featuring topics such as dyslexia, difficulties with math, and college readiness.

Contact us if you have any questions or want to learn how we can support your child’s education.