Review – Visual Perception Problems in Children with AD/HD, Autism, and other Learning Disabilities.

Visual Perception Problems in Children with AD/HD, Autism, and other Learning Disabilities – Lisa Kurtz

Visual Perception Problems in Children with ADHD

A book which details the biological information, assessment information and therapeutic information surrounding visual perception problems seen in AD/HD, autism and other disorders. The book can be loosely divided into two halves – the one that is more useful for professionals and less useful for parents, and the one that is useful for both (depending on the type of professional).

The book starts by describing the anatomy and structure of the visual system, now this might not be of the utmost interest to parents or some of the professionals working with the individual but it’s not written in an overly complicated manner either. From there it leads into how visual skills are developed in the early years, with discussions throughout of how things can develop atypically.

Parents and teachers may wonder why these problems go unrecognized in so many children. Unfortunately, as will be seen in later sections of this book, symptoms of vision difficulty can be subtly, and may also fluctuate over time, so they may not be observed at the time of routine vision screening that are performing in the pediatrician’s office of in schools. (…) For many children with vision problems, this is the way their eyes have always worked, so they do not realize that other children may actually see things differently.

With the biological data out the way, it moves onto discussing specific problems with visual skills – this section is useful for anyone who suspects their child or a child they know or work with is experiencing visual problems. Not all visual problems are equal and not everything can (or needs to be) fixed by glasses. Kurtz then goes into great detail over finding professional help – and lays out a comprehensive chapter on the different sorts of professional, their areas of specialism, who to do to for what problems, and what to expect from them.

Desirable qualities in an intervention program. The professional:

  • treats you and your child with respect
  • sets a positive tone during sessions
  • has the appropriate training and experience
  • communicates regularly and in a way you can understand
  • includes you in all decisions regarding your child
  • willing communicates with other professionals involved with your child
  • knows what he/she cannot accomplish
  • is effective in helping your child

The final three chapters of the book are full of examples of activities and resources that can be used to help children to compensate for their visual problems. There is a huge variety of activities contained within here – I have printed out these sections and used them to help inform planning for some of the children I work with. A number of these activities can be incorporated naturally into the school day, particularly in subjects like P.E without singling a child out. The ideas are simple, practical, and easy to implement, with a wide age range to ensure students do not get bored or feel like they’re being ‘babied’. They also indicate how day-to-day activities that don’t stand out as particularly special can also have their place in helping with visual perception:

For example, sorting through the laundry to find matching pairs of socks is an excellent activity for strengthening visual figure-ground and discrimination skills, and cleaning windows can be an excellent way to promote visual scanning to look for spots and streaks. Looking for birds on a nature walk, license plates during a long road trip, or shells on the beach, are other simple ways of strengthening visual skills.

Is it worth reading?

If your child has a visual perception problem, or you work with a child who does, then the second half of this book is full of ideas that you can take and use. Parents may find the professionals section especially useful, and the additional biological information provides a straightforward background to visual perception.

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