Skip to Top NavigationSkip to ContentSkip to Footer
Ferris State University BulldogFerris State University Logo

Visual Information Processing Assessment

Visual Information Processing Assessment. Many children have difficulties with some aspect of learning in the classroom. As vision is widely recognized as the most critical sense when it comes to gathering information, it is not surprising that some children experiencing learning problems are brought for an eye exam.

The quality and efficiency of vision and visual skills can have a tremendous impact on how well any of us function in our environment. That is why a comprehensive eye exam is a critical component in the overall evaluation of any child's readiness to learn. Unlike vision screenings, which are often very limited in scope and frequently unreliable, a complete vision exam will assess all aspects of basic visual functions. This will include the health of the eyes as well as visual acuity or clarity of vision at distance and at near, refraction to determine if compensatory lenses may be helpful, and a careful assessment of focusing accuracy and efficiency, alignment precision, and eye movement skills.

It is possible for a child to have no difficulties identified in this complete exam and still be struggling with visual information in school. Even if the visual "hardware" is intact and functioning, the brain may not be making the best use of the information it is receiving. The visual processing "software" in the brain may not be efficiently dealing with the data it is being given. Sometimes, 20/20 vision is not enough.

Children with such visual information processing delays or problems exhibit a significant number of symptoms or difficulties in trying to learn. A partial list of these includes:

  • sloppy handwriting or problems copying 
  • trouble remembering what was read 
  • confusion of similar looking words 
  • losing place or skipping words while reading 
  • trouble maintaining attention 
  • reversals

With this kind of evidence of visual perceptual problems, further perceptual testing is usually indicated to go beyond the initial exam. Because of the importance of knowing the level of basic visual skills, the information processing assessment will not be conducted without results from a recent comprehensive vision exam.

The goals of the additional assessment is to identify strengths and weaknesses in processing, and then recommend a strategy for helping the child develop weak skills more fully. Vision therapy, as well as assistance from other professionals, may be indicated.

The Visual Information Processing Assessment

The comprehensive evaluation of visual information processing requires time and cooperation. These exams are typically scheduled for two hours after the completion of a complete eye exam. Sometimes additional testing at another visit is required to complete the total evaluation. It consists of pencil and paper and other visually involved tasks administered one-on-one in a quiet setting.

Once the exam is completed, an appointment is made for a detailed consultation with the parents and/or any other interested and involved party. At this time a written report, summarizing all findings, impressions, and recommendations, is provided. This report can be shared with anyone involved in the child's or individual's care or education. The consultation time and the written report are included in the global fee.

The fee for these services is approximately $390 depending on the case complexity. It is usually not covered by health insurance or vision plans.

Areas addressed

  • Fine motor control: The ability to quickly and precisely choose manipulative tasks.
  • Visual-motor integration: The ability to integrate visual information with fine motor movements.
  • Visual memory: The ability to recognize or recall previously presented visual information.
  • Visual discrimination: The ability to visually tell/detect the difference between similar items.
  • Visual attention: The ability to attend to the relevant visual information from all the visual information available.
  • Saccadic eye movements: Quick movements of the eyes to change fixation from one location to another, such as during reading.
  • Receptive vocabulary: The words of a language that a person knows or understands when they hear them.
  • Reading and spelling patterns: How a person habitually decodes or reads words and encodes or spells words - usually focused on either phonetics or eidetics (sight words).

While signs of other problems such as dyslexia or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be evident during this assessment, these diagnoses are not directly made, but appropriate referrals for further evaluation will be made.

The goal of the visual information processing assessments conducted in the Pediatric and Binocular Vision Service of the University Eye Center is to help identify a child's pattern of strengths and weaknesses to help improve visual difficulties that may be hindering academic performance.

If your child is struggling with schoolwork, and you feel that there is a potential within them that they have not yet tapped, then maybe there is a visual processing delay that is holding them back.