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Visual Processing Explained: Visual Form Constancy

If your child is having trouble in school but doesn’t have an obvious learning disability, visual processing difficulties could be the cause. Visual form constancy is one of many visual processes that the brain uses to decode and store information about the world, and problems here can have far-reaching effects on your child’s ability to succeed in class.

What Is Visual Form Constancy?

Visual form constancy is the ability to mentally manipulate an option into different positions just by looking at it. Children who struggle with this skill might have trouble reading handwritten words that look different than their printed counterparts, or they could be challenged by spatial relationships in puzzles and some math activities.

How to Detect Visual Form Constancy Problems

If your child exhibits several of these symptoms, he or she could have trouble with visual form constancy.
  • Your child has trouble building a toy of blocks or putting together a puzzle based on a picture.
  • Your child has trouble judging distances and heights.
  • Your child doesn’t find missing items quickly, even if they are in plain sight.
  • Your child has trouble reading cursive handwriting or unusual fonts.
  • Your child struggles to recognize objects when placed in a new location.
  • Your child doesn’t always recognize familiar places or objects in photographs.
If you suspect a problem, consider talking to your child’s teacher or seeing a specialist for a specific diagnosis and to get help building these important skills.

Activities to Remediate Visual Form Constancy Weaknesses

Practicing visual form constancy skills is relatively easy to do in daily life, and there are several fun games and activities that will make the process fun for your child. Tangrams are puzzles that come with a standard set of shapes for kids to manipulate into a given form based on a picture. If your child really struggles, start by showing final pictures with the pieces outlined. As they improve, they can try building shapes with just the finished product outlined.
Building with Lego pieces or standard blocks is another great way to help kids learn to manipulate objects visually and be able to imagine them in new positions. Be sure to provide a photo of a diagram of the finished product as visual "directions" to follow.
You can also encourage your child to play with different fonts on a word processor to make connections between letters that look slightly different. This can be as simple as highlighting their name and changing the font, or you can have your child make alphabet posters in different fonts so they get used to noticing the differences.

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