Occupational Therapy

Understanding Visual Information

Visual processing makes up several areas that combine what we see with what we do. It allows us to take in visual information, process it, and use it to complete motor actions. Most of the time, this collection of information and interpretation happens without us even realising it.

Dive Deeper

Visual Closure

Visual Closure is the ability to visualise the whole of an object when part of it is hidden or missing. It allows accurate judgements to be made from familiar but partial information.

Visual Closure is a foundation skill for fluency and speed in reading and spelling. Efficient reading relies on visual closure because with each fixation of the eye only part of the letters of a word or phrase is actually perceived.

Activities to try at home:

The activities listed below aim to help your child organise and integrate what they see to create a recognisable visual image.

  • Jigsaws 
  • Dot to dots, word search puzzles or colouring
  • Writing or drawing in sand or foam
  • Matching complete and incomplete shapes
  • Construction games
  • Scrabble
  • Model making. For example junk modelling.

Visual Discrimination

Visual Discrimination is the ability to identify differences and similarities between shapes, symbols, objects and patterns by their dominant features. For example, recognising the difference between two similarly sized or shaped fruits such as an apple and pear.

It helps your child notice differences and similarities between objects, i.e. for matching. It helps us to quickly interpret visual information. For example recognising and reading a "b" and "d".

Activities to try at home:

  • Odd one out - group objects together and ask your child to spot which is different
  • Coloured squares - Cut different paper squares and ask your child to sort them according to size, colour or both
  • Letter search - Give your child an old letter or newspaper and ask them to find as many of one number or letter as they can.


Visual Figure Ground

Visual Figure Ground is the ability to identify relevant information from a background that contains irrelevant or distracting objects and images. For example finding a specific toy in a toy box, finding today's date on the teacher's board or finding the right page in a book.

Activities to try at home:

  • Sorting activities - mix 2 or 3 types of items and ask your child to sort them. You could use pasta, coins or buttons
  • Circle the word - make a worksheet of several rows of letters. Each row contains a word for your child to circle. E.g. cccccccotccccc (cot); uuupuuuuuuuuu (up); tttttttttttttttttellttttt (tell)
  • Colour the design - make a design on paper repeating it many times. Give an instruction on how to colour each part of the design. For example you could say 'colour all the triangles red'.

Visual Perception

Visual Perception is the ability to understand and interpret visual information. This skill is required for looking at and copying information.

Activities to try at home:

Visual perception games can be a fun and engaging way to improve your child's cognitive skills. These games can help them develop their hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and spatial awareness.

Dot to dot puzzles

Dot to dot puzzles are great for helping children develop their fine motor skills as well as their ability to identify numbers and letters. They also help children develop their visual perception and concentration skills as they connect the dots to reveal the picture.

Building blocks

Building blocks can help children develop their spatial awareness and problem-solving skills. By building structures with blocks, children learn about balance and proportion, and they also develop their hand-eye coordination.

Mazes worksheets

Mazes are a fun way to help children develop their problem-solving skills and their ability to plan ahead. By navigating through a maze, children learn to think critically and to make decisions based on visual cues.

Peg board shapes

Peg board shapes are a fun way for children to develop their fine motor skills and their ability to identify shapes. Children can use colourful pegs to create different patterns and designs, and they can also use the shapes to create more complex structures.

Who Can Help?

Children's Occupational Therapists work with children from birth to 18 (or 19 if attending Complex Need schools). If your child or young person is under the Occupational Therapy teams, you can speak to them about any questions you may have.

If you think your child requires specialist support, please speak to their GP.

If you have any questions about your child or young person's general health or development, you can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

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