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Why would my primary school child need this type of assessment?

Parents often ask us to explain vision perception testing. Your primary school aged child may have been recommended to us by their teacher, educational psychologist, or allied health professional. Unless you have previously supported a child with learning challenges you may not be familiar with this type of assessment and how it relates to your child.


When a child is experiencing difficulties with aspects of learning it may present in a number of ways. Some of these include poor spelling, messy writing, inability to remember words they have previously nutted out when reading, or difficulties keeping on the line when reading.


In order to determine whether the visual system is contributing to the academic difficulties experienced, our optometrists need to perform a number of assessments:


1. The first type of assessment looks at a child’s functional visual system. Can the child see the board clearly? Are their two eyes working together in a harmonious manner? Is the focusing system robust yet flexible to cope with the changing visual demands presented in the classroom? In some instances, a sight issue or binocular vision dysfunction can prevent a child from reaching their academic potential in the classroom.


2. The second type of assessment is known as a visual perceptual assessment. This is an additional assessment we often perform on primary school aged children who are experiencing challenges with learning. Vision perception looks at how the brain processes visually derived information. In essence, if a child does not have the right software to make sense of the visual information that they see, they will find it challenging to interpret this visually derived information.


Our optometrists perform a number of internationally recognised visual perceptual test. These tests enable them to compare a child to age expected norms for the test. Skills assessed include; visual memory, visual discrimination, visual spatial skills, tracking and scanning eye movements.


Visual perceptual testing typically takes 45-60 minutes to complete, but we allow 90 minutes as some children require mini break out sessions to get their wriggles out, stretch and refocus. After assessment the practitioner will spend time scoring your child’s assessment, comparing their results to the age-expected norms and drawing on the information provided by you at your child’s initial assessment in order to formulate their report and recommendations.


The typical outcomes following visual perceptual testing are:

• Your child has age appropriate vision perception skills or,

• A specific visual perception issue has been identified that warrants vision therapy.


In our next blog we will discuss vision therapy in more detail