Visual Discrimination - The OT Toolbox (2023)

visual discriminationis just one of seven types of visual perception that have an impactvisual efficiency. While the word "discriminate" has many different meanings, visual discrimination refers to the ability to tell the difference between things. For example, someone with “distinct taste” can tell the difference between Heinz and off-brand ketchup.

This blog post is part of a highlight seriesVisual perception.

Visual Discrimination - The OT Toolbox (1)

What is visual discrimination

Visual discrimination can be defined as the ability to identify and classify objects, symbols, shapes, etc. by differences in color, shape, size, texture, or orientation, or shape by eyes receiving visual information and analyzing that information.

Visual discrimination occurs through the eyes and brain recognizing differences in objects, using working and stored memory to determine distinct differences, or corresponding characteristics.

This visual ability is necessary for reading, writing, math skills, gaming, activities of daily living, and essentially every aspect of using visual information.

(Video) Visual perceptual skills- Early Intervention (English)

Visual discrimination is a skill that children need for many skills. From identifying and matching socks when dressing and doing laundry to spotting subtle differences in multiple choice problems, visual discrimination is a visual perception skill that allows children to stand out in literacy and numeracy difficulties!

To explain visual discrimination, it is important to understand its role in visual perception as part of the overall visual processing system. One aspect of visual processing is the visual component.visual motor skills. Visual motor skills include three main areas:

Visual motor skills are made up of several areas:

1. Visual Processing Skills-how the eyes move and gather information. Visual processing skills include visual tracking, convergence, saccades, visual fixation, and visual attention. A component of visual processing includesvisual efficiency.

2. Visual Perception Skills-ability to make sense of what we see.visual perception skillsare essential for everything from navigating our world to reading, writing and manipulating objects. Visual perception includes visual memory,optical shutter, constancy of form, visual spatial relationships,visual discrimination, visual attention, visual sequential memory, andground visual figure.

3. Hand-eye coordinationThrough the effective and efficient use of visual input with our hands, we are able to manipulate and manage objects and items. This area allows us to use visual information in a motor action. Hand-eye coordination requires fine motor dexterity, strength, shoulder stability, core stability, etc.

Why is visual distinction important?

Visual discrimination is critical to fluency in reading, writing, and other academic areas. It is also important in everyday life.

(Video) Occupational Therapy with Dr. Covington: Visual Discrimination

  • Find matching pairs of socks in the drawer. The choice between navy blue and black tights
  • Determine when a letter is reversed in handwriting or on paper. Read about hereletter inversionsand the role that visual distinction plays in letter reversal.
  • Choose sugar instead of flour when cooking
  • Use shampoo before conditioner if they are in similar bottles
  • Reading a map to follow the direction of the roads
  • Choosing the right items in the supermarket
  • From a stack of 30 similar buttons, choose two identical buttons to sew on a shirt
  • Searching through a pile of receipts to find the right one
  • Find a phone number while scanning a page or ad

How is visual discrimination related to reading or dyslexia?

In order to read fluently, the brain groups letters into familiar words. There are tests that show the first two letters of a word while the rest is scrambled.

The brain is able to use contextual cues to read confusing text. The brain is also able to read upside down, backwards, and from different fonts. Perception takes place beyond the eyes.

The eyes are just the window or lens. The brain is responsible for perceiving or understanding what the lens saw.

To be able to read fluently, you need to be able to quickly distinguish fonts, distinguish between similar letters (b, d, p, q), group words, determine where a word begins and end, recognize familiar words, and have other decoding skills.

People with dyslexia are not easily able to tell the difference between these letters or similar words. They are able to "see" properly, but their brains often swap or mix up the letters and words, making decoding much more difficult. The good news is that the brain can be trained to understand what it is seeing.

Warning flags for visual discrimination difficulties

Once you've established that visual acuity is 20/20 or corrected for working vision, look out for these common signs of visual discrimination problems:

  • Confusing letters and numbers
  • Writing with reversal
  • Difficulty reading correctly
  • Dislikes activities like reading or puzzles
  • It is not possible to select relevant information during open book tests or to scan a page to find an item
  • Difficulty finding items in drawers or closets
  • Slow or unable to find matching objects with minor differences
  • Delayed or difficult acquisition of math and reading skills
  • Poor Writing - Difficulties with font size, spacing, line placement, letter formation
  • Mathematical Difficulties - Number inversions, loss of position in visual counting, difficulty arranging matching numbers

Fun fact!

(Video) Visual Discrimination Skills Training in Children

According to theories, men have more difficulties with visual perception than their female counterparts. Males are genetically programmed to hunt, forage, and protect.

They weren't programmed to cook, clean, shop, combine items, etc. Men haven't evolved fast enough to meet the ever-changing challenges they face every day!

AccordinglyUniversity of Washington, Men can see movements and colors differently than women. This lends itself to the hunting/protection theory, but is also associated with autism spectrum disorders in males.

You can give the men in your life a break the next time they "can't find" that salad dressing in the fridge!

Visual discrimination tests

In the visual perception test, it is important to separate visual perception from motor skills. Having students type the answers instead of writing them down or saying the letters is a better measure of visual cognition.

The following is a partial list of popular reviews. The VMI subtest is more of a trigger than a true visual perception test.

Visual Discrimination - The OT Toolbox (2)
(Video) Occupational Therapy: Visual Perception Activities | Visual Perceptual Therapy

visual discriminationactivities

Visual discrimination activities take place every day through functional tasks. To work on these specific underlying visual processing skills, it is possible to target the development of visual discrimination through play, games, and activities.

There are also numerous visual discrimination worksheets, games, activities and resources available.

The good news is that visual perception skills can be improved with practice and brain training and combined with the specific interests and goals of the client or student.

  • Sort - similar buttons, shades, toy types, box of 100 crayons per color, similar socks, cutlery by type or pattern, coins, dirty laundry, etc.
  • Visual discrimination games like (Amazon Affiliate Link)find out– these games are very popular. OT Toolbox has quite a fewSpot It games too
  • OT Toolbox has its ownvisual perception gamesAlso
  • Jigsaw Puzzles - Teach context clues, sort pieces, notice differences
  • chase words
  • Printable worksheets like I'm spying, letter distinction, etc.
  • Appropriate activities like thisSpace Matching Activity
  • Handout – (Affiliate Link)Amazonashas some reliable features
  • Toys/Games - if toys and games are more your thing, check this outList of visual perception toys

Game ideas for visual discrimination

The following visual discrimination activities support the development and refinement of the skills needed to process differences in shapes or objects.

  • visual processing package- Contains printable visual discrimination activities and information to better understand visual processing skills.
  • Free visual perception pack- Print these visual discrimination worksheets and use them with crayons, pencils, and hand materials like wiki sticks or string.
  • Visual perception of sunlightActivity - This Google Slide Deck is a digital therapy activity that supports the development of visual discernment skills.
  • Color matching activity Elmer- Use the children's book Elmer to break down the details of a book.
  • Exercise of dexterity- This visual processing activity supports visual discrimination skills through hand-eye coordination along with the use of visual information.
  • Practice "b" and "d" as sensory writing– Letter discrimination is an aspect of visual processing related to functional performance in reading and learning.
  • Sort by color, shape, distinction- Sorting shapes by color or shape is a preliminary task that can be performed by babies and provides a foundation for honed skills.
  • currency discrimination- Visual discernment skills are required to sort and use coins when paying for items or counting change.
  • Real toy game I Spy– I Spy games are powerful visual discrimination skills. This activity uses real toys and can be repeated at home or in therapy sessions using items from home.
  • Letters on the garage door- This gross motor visual discrimination task can be performed indoors or outdoors.

Visual discrimination or visual acuity

The most important testing tool you can use is the discard"visual acuity” Problems before visual perception. Vision plays an important role in learning, and visual discrimination is only one aspect of learning.see and learn.

Glasses are a much simpler and less complicated solution than years of visual perception training.

See a qualified eye doctor to check for vision problems. After exclusion, use one of the excellent test materials listed above to determine any visual perceptual deficits.

(Video) Visual Perception (Occupational Therapy) | Sensory Systems

Visual Discrimination - The OT Toolbox (3)

Victoria Wood, OTR/L, has been providing pediatric occupational therapy for over 25 years. She has worked in hospitals (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), schools, and outpatient systems in multiple states. She has treated hundreds of children with a variety of sensory processing disorders in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills, and self-care. Woman. Wood has also been a speaker at schools' employee development seminars, webinars and training sessions. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.


What are examples of visual discrimination activities? ›

Visual discrimination activities include those related to identifying opposites, sorting cards, doing puzzles, and ordering blocks. Matching cards, taking nature walks, and picking out an image or object that is not like the others in a group are also visual discrimination activities.

How do you explain visual discrimination? ›

Visual discrimination can be defined as the ability to is determine and classify objects, symbols, shapes, etc. by differences in color, form, size, texture, or orientation, or shape by the eyes receiving visual input and analyzing that information.

What does a visual discrimination test determine? ›

The NAB Visual Discrimination Test, a stand-alone component of the Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (NAB), can be used to assess visual perception in adults without the demands of motor output. This test evaluates deficits in visual perception using stimuli that are not amenable to verbal encoding.

What are the approaches in developing visual discrimination skills? ›

Activities that may help develop visual discrimination skills include building blocks and identifying objects. You can combine the concepts of visual skills and motor development with activities like coloring within the lines, physical ball skills, and using building blocks to copy images or designs.

What is visual discrimination in occupational therapy? ›

Visual Motor & Visual Perception

These skills include: Visual discrimination - matching two objects that are the same. Visual memory - the ability to remember visual information. Form constancy - the ability to notice that two objects are the same even if they are different in size, color, etc.

What are 3 examples of activities for visual learners? ›

Learning Activities for Visual Learners
  • Photo Essays. Photo essays are simply sequences of photos. ...
  • Mindmaps. A mindmap is one of the "classics" of visual thinking. ...
  • Flowcharts. Flowcharts are one of the underused types of diagrams in learning. ...
  • Diagrams. ...
  • eLearning and visual learners.

What is the importance of visual discrimination in reading? ›

Visual discrimination is directly connected to reading fluency. Visual discrimination impacts fluency in that if you don't discern subtle similarities and differences visually, you can't read fluently. This may cause a person to re-read the words or sentence that was difficult to visually discriminate.

How does visual discrimination affect learning? ›

Difficulties with visual discrimination will impact reading and math skills significantly, making it difficult to discriminate between different words, letters and numbers. Poor visual discrimination skills can also cause a child to have difficulty with directionality and laterality.

Why is visual discrimination needed for reading? ›

When children are learning to read, visual discrimination is a critical skill. This helps kids notice the differences between letters and words. Kids that are dyslexic often have trouble noticing the differences between letters and words and may mistake one letter for another.

What is poor visual discrimination? ›

Your child might have trouble with visual discrimination, if they exhibit the following visual processing symptoms: Confuses letters and numbers. Loses their place while reading aloud. Trouble enjoying activities like puzzles or reading. Trouble finding information during open book quizzes.

How can a teacher tell if pupils have problems with visual perception? ›

If a child has difficulties with visual perception they might have difficulty: Completing puzzles or dot to dots. Planning actions in relation to objects around them. With spatial concepts such as “in, out, on, under, next to, up, down, in front of.”

Why is visual discrimination important in children? ›

Visual discrimination is important because it helps little ones pay attention to details and see differences in symbols like letters and numbers. Being able to correctly (and quickly) identify and understand letters and numbers helps with academic skills like reading, writing, and math.

What are the 3 strategies of visual learning? ›

Learning strategies for visual learners

Study works best if you: look at headings and pictures before reading whole sentences. highlight important words in colour. write down goals of projects.

How to help pupils in standard one class to develop visual discrimination skills? ›

Encourage students to visually discrimination through matching photos, letters, words, pictures, or other objects and materials.
  1. Visually Discriminate 3D Objects. ...
  2. Visually ​Discriminate Shapes. ...
  3. Visually Discriminate Drawings & Pictures. ...
  4. Visually ​Discriminate Color. ...
  5. Visually ​Discriminate Letters & Words.
Jun 9, 2019

What strategies help visual learners? ›

Study Tips for the Visual Learner
  • Write things down because you remember them better that way.
  • Make study area visually appealing.
  • Look at people and professors when they talk. ...
  • Most visual learners study better by themselves.
  • Take thorough notes in lectures and when studying textbooks.

What are the components of visual discrimination? ›

Visual Discrimination is the ability to identify detail, seeing items likes and differences in shape, color, position and orientation.

Do puzzles help with visual discrimination? ›

3. Visual Discrimination. Visual discrimination is the ability to identify the similarities and differences between colors, shapes, patterns, and sizes. Putting together puzzles helps increase attention to detail and the ability to find specific patterns, colors, and shapes that will “fit together”.

What are the 7 visual perceptual skills? ›

Visual perception is the brain's ability to receive, interpret, and act upon visual stimuli.
Perception is based on the following seven elements:
  • Visual discrimination. ...
  • Visual memory. ...
  • Visual-spatial relationships. ...
  • Visual form constancy. ...
  • Visual sequential memory. ...
  • Visual figure/ground.

How do you accommodate learners with visual? ›

Encourage the student to use visual aids/resources that have been prescribed (e.g. glasses, magnifiers, big-print books, etc). Seat the student appropriately in the classroom (e.g. in the middle towards the front). Make sure lighting is suitable. Make efforts to eliminate the risk of glare from the desk and whiteboard.

How can teachers help visual learners? ›

How to support visual learners in the language classroom
  1. Write down new vocabulary. ...
  2. Use the whiteboard efficiently. ...
  3. Use charts and graphs. ...
  4. Add symbols and movement to flashcards. ...
  5. Play flashcard games. ...
  6. Experiment with realia. ...
  7. Use slide shows and videos. ...
  8. Encourage them to sit at the front.
Jan 16, 2020

How do you accommodate visual learners in the classroom? ›

Visual Learning Style
  1. Use maps, flow charts, or webs to organize materials.
  2. Highlight and color code books/notes to organize and relate material.
  3. Have students pick out key words and ideas in their own writing and highlight them in different colors to clearly reveal organizational patterns.
Apr 6, 2021

What are the advantages of visual discrimination? ›

Visual discrimination not only helps us pay attention to detail and tell things apart, but is crucial in life skills such as reading, writing, and counting. As adults, this comes to us easily. But it takes time, practice, and engaging challenges for a child to master this skill.

What are five reasons visual importance in teaching? ›

The Benefits of Visual Aids for Teaching and Learning
  • Helping inspire students to study more effectively.
  • Helping students retain information for a longer period of time.
  • Providing an example to think about concepts.
  • Increasing the student's vocabulary.
  • Helping students gain a proper view of topics and concepts.
May 13, 2021

How is visual discrimination treated? ›

Activities to Remediate Visual Discrimination Weaknesses

Sorting and matching games also provide hands-on ways to practice these skills. For example, have your child help sort game pieces and small toys by color or shape or have them help you pair socks while folding laundry.

What subject is visual discrimination? ›

Visual Discrimination in Mathematics

Visual discrimination is the ability to visually detect differences in variables such as shape, pattern, color, size, etc. Looking at the variables mentioned, it's easy to see how widespread visual discrimination skills are within the context of mathematics!

What are red flags in visual impairment? ›

Frequent “wiggling,” “drifting,” or “jerky” eye movements misalignment between the eyes (eye turns or crossing of eyes) Lack of coordinated eye movements. Drifting of one eye when looking at objects. Turning or tilting of the head when looking at objects.

What are the four types of visual impairments? ›

Distance vision impairment:
  • Mild – visual acuity worse than 6/12 to 6/18.
  • Moderate – visual acuity worse than 6/18 to 6/60.
  • Severe – visual acuity worse than 6/60 to 3/60.
  • Blindness – visual acuity worse than 3/60.
Oct 13, 2022

What are the three main categories of visual impairment? ›

Category 1: Moderate visual impairment –presenting visual acuity worse than 6/18 and better than 6/60. Category 2: Severe visual impairment –presenting visual acuity worse than 6/60 and better than 3/60. Category 3: Blindness –presenting visual acuity worse than 3/60 and better than 1/60.

What are examples of visual study tools? ›

Pictures, diagrams, concept maps, symbolism, videos and other visual presentations are just a few of the things that work well in a visual learner's education toolbox.

What are the 4 key elements of visual learning theory? ›

To address the effective use of visual skills in the pursuit of learning, visual learning theory has evolved into four key elements: full-spectrum visual learning, active and performance-based learning, dynamic transla- tion, and a multidisciplinary approach.

What is an example of visual learning? ›

They prefer looking at things to absorb information rather than listening to it (auditory) or using their hands (kinesthetic). For example, a visual learner would learn to fix a car better if they watch an instructional video rather than listening to an expert explain the process.

How can you help a child with visual impairment in the classroom? ›

Use supportive teaching aids which can be high or low tech and which can be sourced through an occupational therapist. Adapt assessment tasks and procedures. Use alternatives to visual assessment tasks such as orals. Use verbal descriptions to make up for the lack of visual acuity or clarity.

How do you deal with discrimination in the classroom? ›

This can be done in a variety of ways, including:
  1. challenging stereotypes when they are heard.
  2. discussing stereotypes with students.
  3. identifying stereotypes in the curriculum.
  4. highlighting stereotypical images and roles in textbooks.
  5. allocating posts of responsibility equitably.

When teaching students with visual disabilities a good strategy is to? ›

Speak to the class upon entering and leaving the room or site. Call the student with a visual impairment by name if you want his/her attention. Seat the student away from glaring lights (e.g. by the window) and preferably in front of the class. Use descriptive words such as straight, forward, left, etc.

What is visual discrimination for kids? ›

Visual discrimination is the ability to recognize the details in visual images. These details include the likeness and differences of objects or symbols including shapes and colors as well as size and orientation. Most young children develop visual discrimination skills as they begin to grow and mature.

What are examples of visual supports in the classroom? ›

For children, visual supports may include real objects, photographs, line drawings, words, or action photos. These might be used to make visual schedules, rules for the classroom, social narratives, step-by-step routines (task analysis), or used as transition cues.

What are some examples of discrimination learning? ›

Humans can use discrimination learning to detect danger, learn about differences, and more. One example of discrimination learning in humans would be a baby who reacts differently to their mother's voice than to a stranger's voice.

What are the benefits of visual discrimination activities? ›

Visual discrimination not only helps us pay attention to detail and tell things apart, but is crucial in life skills such as reading, writing, and counting. As adults, this comes to us easily. But it takes time, practice, and engaging challenges for a child to master this skill.

Is visual discrimination a math skill? ›

Visual discrimination is the ability to visually detect differences in variables such as shape, pattern, color, size, etc. Looking at the variables mentioned, it's easy to see how widespread visual discrimination skills are within the context of mathematics!

How do you accommodate visual learning? ›

Visual Learning Style
  1. Use maps, flow charts, or webs to organize materials.
  2. Highlight and color code books/notes to organize and relate material.
  3. Have students pick out key words and ideas in their own writing and highlight them in different colors to clearly reveal organizational patterns.
Apr 6, 2021

What visual tools can aid a visual learner? ›

Visual tools like charts, graphs, diagrams, and images allow visual learners to become active participants in the classroom and learn at their own pace.

What are 3 direct discrimination examples? ›

What is direct discrimination?
  • age.
  • disability.
  • gender reassignment.
  • marriage or civil partnership.
  • pregnancy and maternity.
  • race.
  • religion or belief.
  • sex.

What is an example of a simple discrimination? ›

In a simple discrimination in the intraverbal relation, a person can respond to only one verbal stimulus, such as responding, “Hello,” in the presence of “Hi.” But in a conditional discrimination in the intraverbal relation, a person must come under the control of two or more verbal stimuli.

What are the four main examples of discriminatory Behaviour? ›

There are four main types of discrimination: Direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.


1. VISUAL CLOSURE SYMMETRY GAME l Form Constancy & Visual Perception l Remote OT Teletherapy Idea
(OT Closet)
2. DICE GAME: VISUAL MOTOR | Occupational Therapy Tips | Handwriting Help | Teletherapy Activity
3. Visual Perceptual Skills for School Readiness/Activities to improve the visual perception of kids.
4. Finger Dexterity Test- Standardized Assessment
5. Visual Discrimination: Explanation and Discussion
(Dr. Frederick Covington)
6. OT skills guide: Low vision - non-optical aids
(Optometry Today)


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