Children who have difficulty with visual processing can affect their everyday life, such as reading and catching a ball.
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Visual processing systems are part of everyday life. When you have a conventional eye test the optometrist will assess a visual processing system known as the parvocellular system, also known as the sustained visual system, which is responsible for processing colour vision and visual acuity. For example, checking the smallest letters you can read on the chart. However, in the real world, we are also dependent on other major visual processing systems, which pick up the changing information around us. For example, the systems that detect movement, changing focus from distance to near and control over rapid changes in eye movements. This system is known as the magnocellular system. Being able to perceive a moving world relies on this system. We all live in a moving world – either we are static and observing a moving scene, such as, watching a tennis match, or we are moving and watching a static world such as when we ride a bike or travel in a car.
The children we see have a range of difficulties, examples include:-
When a child has problems with these major visual processing systems, it can have a real impact on their day-to-day life. Below are two examples of this:
Reading a book:
As we move our eyes across the text, we have to be able to appropriately process, resolve the detail and also then suppress that image, as we move our eyes again. If we were not able to do this efficiently, we would see the words running into each other, blurring or jumping about, or even overlapping each other.
Catching a ball:
To be able to catch a ball you would need to be able to estimate the direction, acceleration, speed, as well as the trajectory; then you need to work out how to move your hands into position, to catch the ball. If all is working well you will catch the ball. However, in the children we see, often these systems don’t work well; either because the visual processing is poor, the information from the extra-ocular muscles is unreliable, or motor skills are poor. When this is the case, the hands will close before the ball arrives, or after it has hit them, or they may be in the wrong place when the ball arrives.
Below is a list of some of the processing skills that are assessed during our Visual Processing Assessments:
We also provide additional assessments that look at:
A weak auditory processing ability can significantly affect learning progress in children. In a similar way to the visual processing system, the auditory system also has more than one processing system. If you have been for a hearing test, you would have been assessed using an audiogram; a pure tone sound test of different pitch frequencies, in a sound proofed room. This is very similar to an eye test by an optometrist. However, in real-life we are not in a sound-proof area, we have to pick out a particular sound, or verbal information from a noisy background; for example, a child listening to the teacher in a noisy classroom. This ability is controlled by an auditory processing system that extracts auditory information from a background noise. In those who are able to pick up information out of a background they are able to enhance what they are listening to and make the background noises less noticeable. This ability is aided by visually focusing on the speaker.
Our Auditory Processing Assessments Include the Following Tests:
A simple audiometer test – this is carried out in a quiet room but not a sound booth and assesses three important frequencies which are important for speech interpretation. (1000Hz, 2000Hz and 4000Hz)
SCAN-3/3C – this test allows us to identify auditory processing difficulties and describe their impact on daily life. It allows us then to develop strategies to assist in managing auditory processing difficulties at school and when out and about. The screening tests include Gap Detection, Auditory Figure Ground and Competing Words-Free Recall, the latter being a dichotic listening task. The Diagnostic tests include, Filtered Words, Competing Words-Directed Ear and Competing Sentences. The latter two are also dichotic listening tasks. Plus, time compressed sentences, which assess the ability to process rapid speech and additional Auditory Figure Ground assessments, which have different background noise levels.
TAPS-4 – this test assesses skills across three areas: phonological processing, auditory memory and listening comprehension. These areas effect listening and communication skills, and are critical to the development of language skills, including literacy.
Phonological Processing – assesses word discrimination (the ability to distinguish words that are either both the same, or very slightly different).
Phonological Deletion – assesses whether you can repeat a word with part of the word, or letters removed.
Phonological Blending – assesses whether you can blend letters together to make words.
Syllable Blending – assesses whether you can blend syllables together to make up nonsense words.
Auditory Memory – assesses your ability to remember and repeat a list of numbers, in both forwards recall and reverse recall and also for repeating increasing lists or words in sequential order. Finally, is looks at the ability to repeat increasingly longer sentences accurately.
Listening Comprehension – assesses whether you are able to answer questions about something which you have been told. It also looks at processing verbal directions, in both a silent and a noisy background environment.
These reflexes should however have a limited life span and should be inhibited by higher centres of the brain. The maturing of the brain takes place throughout childhood, however the first year is crucial. The brain needs stimulation from the balance, the tactile and the kinaesthetic senses. This comes from being touched, rocked and by continually making rhythmic baby movements – turning around, creeping on tummy, rocking on hands and knees and crawling are all very important milestones in development. When a baby makes these rhythmic movements the primitive reflexes are inhibited and the postural reflexes are developed. If a baby is unable to inhibit his primitive reflexes then motor development will be delayed and it will be more difficult to mature the brain.
5 Primitive Reflexes Are Assessed During Our Retained Primitive Reflex Assessments
The Moro Reflex
The Moro reflex is an automatic response to survive and it is the earliest form of the flight or fight reflex. It should be inhibited and developed into the more sophisticated and controlled startle response. If this reflex does not develop it can cause hypersensitivity to many stimuli causing the child to over react in many situations. The child will be on constant alert and in a heighted state of awareness. This can often have a detrimental effect on concentration and levels of focus.
The ATNR facilitates movement and develops muscle tone. It should be fully developed by the time the foetus is born so that it may help during the birthing process. Retaining the ATNR can affect balance activities like riding a bike, walking in a straight line and catching a ball difficult. It can also have a big effect on handwriting and can have a negative effect on the expression of ideas in a written form.
During the birthing process the SGR can help the baby to work its way down the birth canal. Retention of this reflex can have a big influence on concentration as it becomes a distraction in itself. Fidgety behaviour is usual. It can cause people to have poor bladder control, poor attention skills and poor short-term memory.
This reflex is closely linked to the Moro reflex in the early stages of life. It is an early response to gravity. When the head is tipped back the arms and legs extend and when the head is tipped forward the arms and legs flex, influencing muscle tone from the head downwards. This reflex literally helps the baby to ‘straighten out’. Balance, muscle tone and proprioception are all established when the TLR integrates.. A child who retains this reflex will have difficulty with spacial awareness, posture and their position in space.
The STNR divides the body in half at the horizontal midline and allows a baby to learn how to use the two halves of the body individually. Retention of the STNR can therefore affect the coordination of the arms and legs simultaneously. It can also affect sitting posture and clumsiness is often common.
Totally recommend this service to any parent with a child with SEND needs, or even complex medical needs. The staff are excellent. They work with the child and the parents.- Tara *****