Marlboro Township Visual Processing

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Empowered Learning Transformation Centers


When most people think of 'vision' they think in terms of visual acuity; such as seeing 20/20. However, vision is a much more complicated process. Vision is the combination of eyesight (how well we see), how our eyes function (tracking, eye teaming, etc), and visual processing / visual perception (how the brain interprets and understands the information our eyes see). When we do not process visual information properly it leads to Visual Processing Disorder, also called Visual Perceptual Disorder or Visual Processing Issues.


Visual Processing Disorder is very different from conditions affecting visual acuity, which is the sharpness and clarity of eyesight, and cannot be corrected by using glasses or contact lenses. It is important to note that individuals do not “outgrow” Visual Processing Disorder. However, individuals typically develop compensatory techniques to overcome some of their challenges.


Visual Processing Disorder involves difficulties interpreting and understanding visual information, which also includes movement, spatial relationships, form, and direction. These are the visual processing skills required to identify similarities and differences in objects (such as differentiating the letters b and d), identify visually-important information in a crowded background (such as a friend in a crowd) and quickly make decisions based on a changing environment (quickly stopping a car if someone walks in front of it).


Visual Processing Disorder will not be detected on an eye chart. Instead, parents and educators typically notice visual processing disorders when a child is learning. An individual with Visual Processing Disorder will require a greater number of exposures, more typically in the range of 10 to 15 times more often in order to recall visual information, for example a word. It is easy to understand why an individual with Visual Processing Disorder will learn to read at a significantly slower rate, and with greater effort by the individual as well as the parents and educator, than someone with intact visual processing skills. Additionally, individuals with visual processing disorder are overall slower readers and usually with below grade-level comprehension rates. Again, visual processing disorder is not a condition that someone outgrows. It is a lifelong challenge unless diagnosed and treated.



A Visual Processing Assessment should be performed, for children, when there are concerns regarding their ability to learn from visually-presented material. Visual Perceptual and Visual Processing Deficits affect people in different ways. Signs and symptoms of a Visual Processing Deficit can include:

Difficulties with matching

Difficulties identifying subtle differences (ex: mistakes words with similar beginnings)

Difficulties completing work under timed conditions (ex: runs out of time with tests or assignments)

Struggles as a visual learner (ex: prefers auditory presentation)

Difficulty visualizing concepts (ex: spatial problem solving, picturing a story in their head)

Difficulties remembering what has been viewed (ex: trouble with sight words)

Overwhelmed with visually busy environments (visual clutter)


A Visual Processing Assessment is also important for adults who have suffered an acquired brain injury. Visual perceptual deficits, or visual agnosia, and prolonged visual processing speed are common following a head injury. These vision conditions cause difficulties when attempting to return to normal life. Many people are overwhelmed by the day's work. They have difficulties keeping up with the pace of the work day, cannot multitask and 'feel in a fog'. While they may see clearly, they are unable to think clearly about what they are seeing.


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