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Visual Processing


The term Visual Processing refers to how all the areas of visual perception are processed by the brain and used to complete a variety of cognitive or motor tasks.

Areas of Visual Perception & tips to use now

  1. Visual discrimination:  Using the sense of sight to notice & compare the features of different items to distinguish one item from another.

Tip:  Encourage working left to right, top to bottom.  Do not put too much visual info on worksheets.  Cover up other areas so only the area you are addressing is visible. 

  1. Visual figure ground discrimination:  The ability to distinguish foreground from background.

Tip:  Hidden pictures are great for developing this skill as well as puzzles.

  1. Visual sequencing:  The ability to see and distinguish the order of symbols, words, or images.

Tip:  Use objects in groups of 3 & hide and ask the student to make what you made. Increase the amount of objects to 5 -7 and then 9. Use verbal repetition to reinforce.

  1. Visual motor processing:  Using feedback from the eyes to coordinate movements of other body parts.

Tip:  Practice toss and catch with a balloon, play jacks, dot to dot, block building, scissor use starting with simple straight lines.

  1. Visual memory: There are 2 types
    1. Long term:  The ability to recall something seen some time ago.
    2. Short term:  the ability to recall something seen recently.

Tip:  Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.  Make the information functional and meaningful to the student.  Play memory games with cards and objects.

  1. Visual closure:  The ability to know what an object is when only part of it is visible.

Tip:  Puzzles are great for this, let the student chose a favorite color page, color it   and then cut it into a puzzle then glue it to a piece of construction paper.

  1. Spatial relationship:  The ability to understand how objects are positioned in space in relation to one’s self.  This also includes the ability to understand and process verbal and written spatial instructions.

Tip: Play life sized games such as Twister, hop scotch or jump rope, also playing directional games like red light-green light, Mother May I, and obstacle courses.




Occupational Therapy

Tip of the Month


For students who have difficulty spacing between words when writing, try these ideas:


1.       Have the student place index finger of non-dominant hand after writing a word to provide a physical space.


1.       If using the index finger isn’t successful, have the student use a spacer made from a popsicle stick or tongue depressor.


2.       Have the student stop after writing a word and underline it.  This helps slow the student down and think about the need to space after the word.


3.       Place dots between words with a pencil, then erase the dots when finished.


4.       Model extra large spaces between words for the student when writing on the chalkboard or papers.


5.       Using graph paper, have student write one letter in each box with an empty box between words.


6.       Teach the students to review their own work to determine if there are spaces between the words.


7.       Highlight right margin if the student crams words on the right side of the paper rather than dropping down to the next line.



For more information, please contact your school’s Occupational Therapist or call the Special Education Office at 439-7231.  Thank you for taking the time to read our tips! 







Occupational Therapy

Tip of the Month





-Proper Writing Position:  The optimal position for writing includes the ankle, knee and hip at right angles with the forearms resting on the desk.  The top of the desk should be approximately 2 inches above the elbows when the arms are at the student’s side.


-Pencil grasp:  The most efficient way to hold a pencil is the dynamic tripod grasp.  In the dynamic tripod grasp, the pencil is between the thumb and index finger.  (For tips to improve pencil grasp, see your OT)



                                  Dynamic Tripod Pencil Grasp


-Paper:  Use paper that is not too visually distracting.  Too many lines can be confusing to the student.


-Work in a variety of materials/domains:  Work on a vertical surface, especially above eye level.  Chalkboards, magna doodles, and shaving cream are all good tools.  Allow the child to “air write” their letters.


-Start at the top:  Encourage the students to write their letters “starting at the top.”


-If the child writes too heavy:  Use mechanical pencils…if the child presses too hard, the lead will break. 






Sensory Integration is the process of taking in information through our 5 senses, muscles and joints; processing the information in our brains and then responding to the information we have processed. (e.g. touch a hot stove, pull away, say ouch)


At this time of the year, children demonstrate difficulty processing all the information they are receiving (i.e. changes in everyday routines, bright lights, more colorful art activities, and the excitement of winter break).  This may cause children to have increased energy, difficulty attending, or be very sluggish.

Below are some simple activities to add to your day to help children get their bodies back to a “just right” place so learning can continue.


While reading or coloring a picture, allow the children to lie on their stomachs on the floor, propping themselves on their forearms.

Between each subject, have the children stand and stretch their arms in the air while taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly.

Have the children stand against a wall and try to push it down.  Count to 10, relax, then do it again.

During a quiet activity, play quiet background music.


Avoid activities that may overstimulate,

Rather than finger painting, use a paint brush. (This avoids tactile defensiveness)

Rather than using crayons to color, tear colored tissue paper and glue on (this can be very calming).

Rather than watching a holiday movie, listen to one on tape (many books on tape are available at the public library).

Try to keep a routine as much as possible.


For other ideas, please feel free to talk to the Occupational Therapist at your school or call @ 439-7231 and have a safe and happy Christmas season.





Occupational Therapy
    Tip of the Month


(with some low tech Assistive Technology)


Try the following suggestions to create success for holding/grasping throughout the school day.


35mm film canisters make great built up hand grips, Here’s how:


·        With the lid on make a small X and cut carefully.  You can now place a pencil, crayon, or marker in the slot and make the task easier.

·        Make a stamp.  Cut out a sponge into the shape you desire. Hot glue onto the lid and stamp away.  You can use this to introduce shapes or letters.  (You can also use weather stripping with self adhesive backing to make shapes and letters)


Foam pipe insulation is another way to create built up grips.


v     Acquire a piece of insulation and cut to the desired length (Your OT and/or COTA can assist)

v     Place pencil, marker, crayon, or eating utensil into opening for use


Having problems holding playing cards, flash cards, or more than one item at a time, Try this:


Ø     Obtain 2 plastic lids from a container (i.e. Pringles, Yogurt, small tubs of butter)

Ø     Place lids back to back or label to label.

Ø     Push a Brass fastener through the lids

Ø     Presto…Instant card holder


Thanks for taking time and reading our monthly tips.  Hopefully we have provided some useful information.  If you have any questions regarding any of the monthly tips, please feel free to stop us in the hall, lounge, or call the Special Ed office at 439-7231.  Have a good month and be on the look out for the next tip on Sensory Integration.



Occupational Therapy Tip


To Help Maintain Order in Line


Have a student who can’t find his place during line up or just can’t seem to stay in place?  He/She may have difficulty with knowing where their body is in space, be hypersensitive to touch, or have difficulty with spatial relations.  Try the following tips:


1. Put markers at the door-maybe tape Xs or boxes to stand on.


2. Allow students to use the wall for guidance (some students feel more organized when leaning against the wall).


3. Have disruptive or ancy students be first or last when lining up.


4. Give markers to follow as you walk in line.


5.  Let student carry something heavy as you walk in the hallways.



If you have more specific questions or want additional information please just contact me, I would love to assist you!

Thank You,

Occupational Therapy Staff

Franklin-Jefferson Special Ed








To promote good pencil grasp:


·        small pencils (golf pencils) are great to assist children with learning proper pencil grip (small hands need small pencils!)

·       save those broken crayons – broken crayons encourage a child to hold their crayon in a 2 finger grasp (because

   the crayon is so small – they can’t hold it any other way!)

·       picking up small objects, such as beads, paperclips, pennies, encourages 2 finger grasp (pincer grasp)

·       activities such as placing clothespins on a jar, playing with playdoh (rolling snakes and balls, hiding beads, squeezing etc) and using a hole punch promotes hand strengthening

·       playing games with children such as “Bed Bugs” and operation and using tweezers and other types of tongs to pick up small objects (Cheerios, small cubes, small marshmallows, pennies etc.) assists with developing eye hand coordination

·       have the child write using the chalkboard, erase board, or piece of paper taped to the wall (this automatically puts the child’s hand and wrist in a neutral or correct position for writing)


A child’s grasp depends on all of the factors listed above –upper extremity strength, eye hand coordination, pincer grasp, neutral wrist position, and the utensils (pencils, crayons, markers) used when writing. These are just a couple of tips that may assist your children in holding their pencil correctly!