Visual problems can surface in many ways. Visual processing challenges present as difficulty in reading, handwriting, sports, navigating a hallway, or many other areas. Sometimes, the issue is a result of visual tracking challenges. Read on to find out exactly what is visual tracking and what an eye tracking problem looks like in kids, including common visual tracking difficulties that present in the classroom or during academic work. We’ve shared a few visual tracking tips and soon on the site, we’ll share a collection of visual tracking activities, too.
What is Visual Tracking?
You’ve probably seen it before: The child who struggles with letter reversals..the child who has challenges in navigating obstacles when playing…the child who labors with reading and commonly skips words or lines of words when reading.
These are all signs of a visual tracking problem. There are many more, in fact. The thing is, visual tracking is a part of almost everything we do!
Before we talk more about what visual tracking looks like and other common signs of visual tracking problems, let’s discuss what exactly visual tracking is.
Definition of Visual Tracking
Visual tracking is a visual processing skill that occurs when the eyes focus on an object as it moves across the field of vision. Visual tracking occurs with movement of the eyes to follow a moving object and not movement of the head. The eyes have the ability to track an object in the vertical and horizontal, diagonal, and circular planes. There should also be an ability to track across the midline of the eyes and with smooth pursuit of the object. Visual tracking requires several skills in order to efficiently occur. These include oculomotor control abilities, including visual fixation, saccadic eye movement, smooth pursuit eye movements, along with convergence, and visual spatial attention.
Here is more detailed information on saccades and their impact on learning.
Components of Visual Tracking
Occupational Therapy Vision Screening Tool
What does a Visual Tracking Problem Look Like?
Visual Tracking Problem Red Flags
- Incoordination when visual perceptual skills or visual motor skills are required
- Difficulty with eye-hand or general coordination
- Difficulty with sports including those that use a ball or target
- History of delayed developmental milestones
- Reverse letters or numbers when writing
- Misjudges distances or heights related to orientation of the body or body parts in movement or activities
- Difficulty following an object across their field of vision, especially when the object crosses midline
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty writing
- Trouble copying work from one place to a paper in single plane or multi-plane locations
- Difficulty keeping up with peers
- Difficulty managing body on uneven surfaces, including navigaing and managing bleachers, steps, or walkways
- Difficulty drawing or coloring
- Trouble shifting gaze in all planes
- Skips words or a line of words when reading or re-reads lines of text
- Must use finger to keep place when reading
- Poor reading comprehension
- Short attention span
- Difficulty comprehending or remembering what is read
- Confusion with interpreting or following written directions
- Writing on a slant, up or down hill, spacing letters and words irregularly
- Confusion with left/right directions
- Errors when copying from a chalkboard or book to paper
- Misalignment of horizontal and vertical series’ of numbers in math problems