How Occupational Therapy can help children with learning difficulties

Children who struggle to write letters the right way around, remember spelling and concentrate on tasks often have underlying visual perception problems. Occupational Therapist, Morgan Webster from Kids First is Sydney’s northern beaches, explains what this means and how you can help your child learn more easily.

occupational therapy helps children with learning difficulties

Does this sound like your child?

My child:

  • Has poor handwriting – with messy spacing and uneven size and slope
  • Mirrors or reverses letter formations (the most common errors occur with ‘b’ and ‘d’)
  • Has difficulty concentrating on one task at a time and frequently ‘flits’ from one activity to another
  • Has difficulty recalling sight words
  • Finds it hard spell and put a word’s letters in the correct sequence
  • Writes sentences with words in the incorrect order
  • Uses poor or odd punctuation during writing tasks
  • Makes clumsy, hesitant movements and often bumps into things
  • Loses their place when reading, writing and copying from the board.

If so, your child could have visual perception difficulties

Visual perception is more than just the sense of vision.

Visual perception refers to your child’s ability to use visual information to recognise, recall, discriminate, and make meaning or sense of what he or she sees.

Visual perception relates strongly to the way your child’s body guides movement and affects how he or she completes activities like walking, writing, using scissors and completing puzzles.

How to know if your child has visual perception problems?

When an Occupational Therapist tests your child’s Visual Perception, your child will work through seven different subtests. Each of these tests relates to different forms of visual learning.

One of the most common areas is Visual Memory.

Visual Memory is the ability to remember/recall an object once it has been removed from sight.

Why are Visual Memory skills important?

Your child uses Visual Memory skills every day, and so do you.

How else would you remember those PIN numbers, phone numbers and household addresses that are stored in your brain?

Your child uses visual memory skills to learn the basics of letter and number formations. For instance, the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ look very much alike and it is your child’s visual memory skill that helps them to remember which letter is which.

Simple signs of children with visual memory problems
If your child has visual memory weaknesses, you might have noticed that they have;

  • Difficulty recalling non verbal experiences
  • Difficulty following instructions or copying from the board accurately
  • Difficulty in remembering items/pictures once they are removed from view
  • Problems learning and recalling letters, numbers, words
  • Consistent spelling difficulties with the same words on one piece of paper
  • Difficulty reading from left to right on a page

How can you help?

Helping your child to improve their Visual Perception can make a big difference to learning and an Occupational Therapist may be able to help by developing a personalised program that supports your child.

Individual occupational therapy is usually lots of fun and can include games, puzzles and exercises that your child can also enjoy at home.

Kids First’s Occupational Therapists have helped hundreds of children to improve their Visual Perception skills and have paved the way for improved performance at school.

For more information about Occupational Therapy for children and how it can help your child, click here… or call our Brookvale centre on (02) 9938 5419

Free Fact Sheet:
Activities to Improve Your Child’s Visual Attention & Visual Memory

Download top tips from Kids First’s Occupational therapists here.

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