Visual Motor Skills
What are Visual Motor Skills?
Visual Motor Skills enable an individual to process information around them. The ability to observe, recognize, and use visual information about forms, shapes, figures, and objects makes up our visual motor abilities. Visual motor skills include a coordination of visual information that is perceived and processed with motor skills, including fine motor, gross motor, and sensory motor.
When a child performs activities involving motor tasks, they are using visual motor skills.
Red flags for visual motor skill difficulties include:
- Letter reversal
- Poor line awareness in handwriting
- Poor margin use in written work
- Difficulty copying written work
- Trouble recognizing patterns and completing hands-on math problems
- Difficulty catching or kicking a ball
- Trouble with movement games like hopscotch.
- Difficulty with sports
- Difficulty drawing and copying pictures or shapes
- Difficulty copying block forms
- Difficulty with puzzles
- Poor pencil control when writing
- Difficulty keeping place when reading and writing
- Difficulty perceiving and copying shapes
Visual Motor Skills are made up of many areas related to vision and the ability to perceive sight with relation to movement of the hands and body in functional tasks.
What if you suspect vision problems?
When vision problems are suspected after a screening by the OT, it is best practice to refer the family to a developmental optometrist.
A developmental optometrist will complete a full evaluation and determine the need for corrective lenses, vision therapy or a home program to address vision concerns.
As occupational therapists, it is imperative that we rule out vision problems before treating handwriting or delays in visual motor integration, to ensure the best possible trajectory of development and success for the child.
Visual perceptual skills make up an important component of visual motor skills. For children, these abilities are necessary for so many things…from self-care to fine motor skills, to gross motor skills…all parts of a child’s development require visual perception. There are many pieces to the giant term of “visual perception”.
There are many resources related to visual perceptual skills here on The OT Toolbox:
Search “Visual Perception” or individual visual perceptual skills in the search bar at the top of this website for more activities.
When it comes to vision, there is so much to learn! Start by checking out Visual Motor Integration developmental milestones for age-appropriate skills that children typically master from age 0-5.
Activities to help develop visual motor integration:The activities below are designed to develop the ability to integrate and coordinate visual input with motor skills. I am breaking down the activities into different areas. Click on the main links to find even more explanation of each area.
Eye-Hand Coordination Activity for Kids
Hand-eye coordination is using the information received through the vision system to coordinate the hands with control, in order to complete a task, such as handwriting or catching a ball.
Visual scanning is essential for handwriting skills, puzzles, word searches, mazes, and many many functional tasks. Scanning a room for a missing sock may be difficult if a child demonstrates difficulty with visual scanning.Visual Spatial Relations is organizing the body in relation to objects or spatial awareness. This is an important part of handwriting. Spacing pieces of a puzzle amongst the others and writing in relation to the lines is one way to work on this skill.Visual Discrimination is determining differences in color, form, size, shape.Visual Closure is the ability to fill in parts of a form in the mind’s eye to determine shape or a whole object.Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate objects within a cluttered area (think “I Spy”). Finding a red square among the pile of foam pieces is one fun way to work on this area of visual perception.Need more help?If you think your child or student might have some of these difficulties that lead to problems with handwriting, it can be quite beneficial to speak to an Occupational Therapist.Join us in the free Visual Processing Lab…a virtual lab experience to learn all about visual processing and the parts that areas like visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and visual perception play in functional tasks. It’s a free mini-course and we would love to have you join in on the fun!