What are Visual Motor Skills?
Visual motor skills, also referred to as visual motor integration, are the skills that emerge from the integration of visual skills, visual perceptual skills and motor skills that allow us to use our eyes and hands in a coordinated and efficient way. Visual motor skills are the foundation for many of a child’s day to day activities, including cutting, coloring, writing, catching or kicking a ball, or tying his shoes. When the visual and motor systems are efficiently communicating with one another, these activities are easy for children to complete.
When these systems are not effectively communicating, children will have difficulty with many of these activities. A child may not have any visual issues with acuity or perception and may not have any challenges with hand strength or dexterity, but the connection between their visual and motor system is not as organized or efficient as it should be, resulting in difficulties with visual motor skills. Functional implications of poor visual motor skills include difficulty with handwriting, drawing, completing mazes, copying from the board at school and poor eye-hand coordination.
Our approach to difficulties with visual motor skills at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our therapists work with children who have difficulties with visual motor skills by using a multisensory approach to provide the child with additional sensory experiences and successful completion of visual motor integration activities. Deficits in visual motor skills may be caused by difficulties with underlying visual perceptual skills or motor skills. To identify a child’s current level of performance related to his visual motor skills our occupational therapists (OT) will administer a standardized assessment called the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration, or the Beery VMI. This assessment provides the OT with important information on the development of the child’s visual and motor abilities, as well as where the child should be performing for his/her age.
Following the evaluation, the therapist will develop goals based on the child’s performance and design a treatment program that concentrates on improving these skills. The therapist will engage the child in various activities that incorporate movement, tactile, visual, and auditory sensations to enhance visual, fine and gross motor skills. Throughout therapy, the therapist will also provide activities and exercises for the child to complete at home, such as mazes, dot-to-dots, puzzles or ball activities. Participation in home exercises will help the child practice these visual motor skills during the week outside of therapy and will ensure improvements in participation of everyday activities.