Visual Perceptual Dyslexia: Symptoms, Causes, and Effective Strategies for Support

Posted by Erica Warren on

Dyslexia is a term often associated with reading difficulties, but it's important to recognize that it manifests in various forms. One such form is visual perceptual dyslexia, a type that primarily affects the way individuals interpret and process visual information. Understanding this condition is crucial for providing effective support to those who struggle with it.

What is Visual Perceptual Dyslexia?

Visual perceptual dyslexia is a subtype of dyslexia where the brain has difficulty processing visual information accurately. This condition can impact reading, writing, and other activities that require visual-motor coordination. Individuals with visual perceptual dyslexia may see letters and words differently, which can lead to challenges in reading fluency and comprehension.

Symptoms of Visual Perceptual Dyslexia

  1. Letter and Word Reversals: Commonly, individuals with visual perceptual dyslexia might confuse similar-looking letters such as 'b' and 'd' or 'p' and 'q'. They may also read words like 'was' as 'saw' or 'on' as 'no'.
  2. Difficulty with Spatial Orientation: Problems with understanding spatial relationships can lead to trouble with writing in a straight line, spacing letters and words correctly, and aligning numbers in math problems.
  3. Slow Reading Speed: Reading might be slow and laborious due to the extra effort required to decode visual information.
  4. Visual Fatigue: Extended periods of reading or writing can cause significant eye strain and fatigue.
  5. Difficulty Recognizing Patterns: Challenges in recognizing and remembering visual patterns can impact activities beyond reading, such as math and science.

Causes of Visual Perceptual Dyslexia

The exact causes of visual perceptual dyslexia are not fully understood, but it is believed to be linked to how the brain processes or makes sense of visual information. Some potential factors include:

  1. Genetics: Dyslexia often runs in families, suggesting a genetic component.
  2. Neurological Differences: Differences in brain structure and function, particularly in areas responsible for visual processing, may contribute to visual perceptual dyslexia.
  3. Developmental Factors: Issues during prenatal development, birth complications, or early childhood development may play a role.

Strategies for Supporting Individuals with Visual Perceptual Dyslexia

  1. Multi-Processing Learning Approaches: Incorporating multiple ways of processing into learning activities can help reinforce information. For example, combine visual, auditory, verbal, kinesthetic and interactive elements in reading exercises.
  2. Assistive Technology: Tools like text-to-speech software, audiobooks, and screen readers can reduce the strain of reading and improve comprehension.
  3. Structured Literacy Programs: Programs that emphasize phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension can be particularly beneficial.
  4. Environmental Modifications: Adjusting the learning environment to reduce visual distractions, providing ample lighting, and using high-contrast materials can help.
  5. Practice and Patience: Regular practice with reading and writing, along with patience and encouragement, can significantly aid progress.

Dr. Warren's Visual Perceptual Resource Library

To aid individuals with visual perceptual dyslexia and strengthen the needed skills, Dr. Warren has developed a Comprehensive Visual Perceptual Resource Library. This extensive collection includes over 500 innovative activities aimed at enhancing visual processing abilities, proving to be an essential asset for educators, therapists, and parents.

Understanding Visual Processing

Visual processing is a cognitive function involving the visual cortex and other brain regions, enabling us to interpret and derive meaning from visual stimuli. Enhancing visual perception can improve skills such as visual discrimination, recognizing subtle differences, and matching similar objects, which are critical for academic success in reading, math, and spelling.

Utilizing the Resource Library

Designed for ease of use, the resource library is suitable for both online and in-person sessions, catering to a broad age range from preschoolers to adults. Administrators should encourage participants to maintain focus on the material and can use tracking aids like fingers if needed. The downloadable Growth Tracker helps monitor student progress.

Advantages of the Resource Library

  • Access a wide array of activities in a single, convenient location.
  • Track progress with printable resources.
  • Eliminate the need for extensive printing and storage.
  • Reduce preparation time with ready-to-use materials. 

Integrating Dr. Warren's Visual Perceptual Resource Library into your support strategies can provide targeted, effective exercises to help those with visual perceptual dyslexia enhance their visual processing skills and overall academic performance.


Visual perceptual dyslexia presents unique challenges, but with the right strategies and support, individuals can overcome these obstacles and achieve success in reading and other visual tasks. Dr. Warren's Visual Perceptual Resource Library offers an extensive and practical toolset for helping individuals strengthen their visual processing skills. You can also assess a learner's dyslexia type using the Dyslexia Remediation Assessment. Understanding and addressing the specific needs of those with visual perceptual dyslexia is crucial for their academic and personal development. By fostering an inclusive and supportive environment, we can help them unlock their full potential.

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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