Visual learning disability: what is it?

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Visual learning disabilities involve difficulties in processing visual information, not physical inability to see. They often affect reading and learning, and can be confused with attention deficit disorder. Diagnosis can be challenging, but treatment involves practice and exercises tailored to the specific disability.

A visual learning disability is a disability that is related to vision but does not include the inability to physically see. Generally, this means that the person’s eyes capture light in a way that would be considered normal, but that the information involved in seeing is somehow misunderstood or confused by the brain. Sometimes, this type of noise is called visual processing disorder because the problem is with how information is understood, not how it is captured. There are many different types of visual learning disabilities and many involve difficulties understanding written language.

One of the defining characteristics of a visual learning disability is that the problem is not the physical inability to see. A person who is blind or needs glasses does not have a visual learning disability. Instead, the visual learning disability lies in the processing of the visual information received. Subjectively, a person may not see information normatively or may not be able to focus on specific parts of the information.

In many cases, a visual learning disability impairs a student’s ability to read and learn from visual information. Some students compensate using auditory methods, but others are unable to circumvent this, leading to poor achievement in school and sometimes misbehavior. This particular learning disability is often confused with attention deficit disorder (ADD) due to the student’s perceived inability to concentrate.

One of the biggest problems with diagnosing a visual learning disability is that it is difficult to tell which problems relate to effort and which problems relate to ability. A student who doesn’t try to learn to read is different from one who literally can’t process visual information, but both exhibit similar results. In many cases, the student’s character is questioned before a learning disability is proposed, which can be detrimental to a young student’s self-esteem. There are some tests and specialists who can attempt to determine where the problem specifically lies.

Treatment of a visual impairment depends on precisely how impaired a person is. Most of the time, the disability is helped by practice and special exercises that focus on the problem area. Treatment for dyslexia, for example, is different from treatment for a more general visual processing disorder even though both problems are related to the eyes. Treatments for these disabilities are constantly improving, and special clinics exist to help children achieve educational and personal success even with a disability.

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