There are several components required for reading which are not always checked when a reading issue arises. These should be at the top of the parents list when it is apparent that their child may have a reading problem.
There are 6 visual skill components that are needed to make reading a smooth process that do not include acuity (20/20 vision).
Convergence is the ability to aim the eyes inward and fixate on print. If the eyes are aimed in front of or behind the text, double vision or overlapping may occur.
Laterality and Directionality:
This is the internal awareness that the body and things have two sides. Laterality progresses into directionality which helps us understand letters mean different things if they are oriented in different ways. If a child does not have this awareness you may see reversals with reading and writing, especially seen in b,d and p.q.
Pursuits and Saccades:
These components are visual tracking and scanning terms in vision pertaining to how the eyes are moving. Pursuits are the smooth eye movements used when reading from left to right without jumping lines or skipping words.
Span of Recognition:
This describes children that read at accelerated speeds and recognize several words at one time. Kids lacking this ability can only read one word or letter at a time which in turn can take an extended amount of time and not make sense to the child.
This is a mental image that runs through your mind as you are reading a story. This can be played like a movie in your mind as you read or as you are being read too. Very important for reading comprehension.
Form perception is a visual perceptual skill required to understand shape or letter orientation, direction, identify the form in different sizes, and identifying a form or letter from memory in different sequences. This could be thought of identifying a letter when put with other letters to make words
If all these components are in place the visual skills are in place to make for a good reader. If you notice your child has one or more of these that are not fully developed it would be beneficial to report these to your occupational therapist or optometrist and make sure we assess the child and set proper goals to help improve their academic performance.
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Written by: Tiffany Sinovic, MS, OTR/L