Autism and Visual Processing

Did you know there are many kinds of visual processing disorders?

Since autism is neurological in nature, it is not surprising to learn that autistic folks often have sensory disruptions of many sorts. Visual processing disorders can take many forms.

1 Problems with visual discrimination

2 Problems with discriminating the difference between a figure and the ground/background

3 Problems with visual sequencing

4 Visual motor processing troubles

5 Visual memory struggles , long or short term

6 visual-spatial difficulties

7 Visual closure struggles

8 Visual reversal of letters, symbols

We rely on vision every day and when our vision is not functioning correctly we can not trust what we see or think we understand, we can not perform reliably in expected ways.

Signs of struggles with visual processing include slow responses to visual input, trouble responding to questions regarding something we have just seen or been told to look at (reading, watching, doing any task in ‘real time’ after visual demonstrations).

We may confuse information, only absorb part to none of it, may not be able to recall something we just saw, or may reverse images of things when asked to write them, may see numbers and letters as reversed/disordered as we look at them.

We may frequently misjudge distances of objects near and far, so that we trip, fall, run into things, have accidents if we drive or ride bikes or other vehicles, have difficulty working at speed.

We can not rely on our visual input. We may use our hands to guide us in motion, touching things or others in a group to help us understand where we are in relation to others and items in our path.

My own visual processing is in the 25th percentile.
When I learned this at age 68, I was amazed that I have done as well in life as I have. Suddenly it was understandable that where I had been accused of carelessness and not listening or watching as things were explained to me, I was indeed paying attention but the things I saw demonstrated were not being processed.
Things like a team mate throwing a ball and its hitting me in the face every time.

Things like being shown how to operate a machine and failing to understand.
Things like cooking, sewing, or cleaning processes being demonstrated to me and my failure to perform them (all of which I was punished or penalized, criticized for all of my life).
Every one of those failures made perfect sense!

It has been such a relief to learn that my lack of coordination and my physical incompetence, my failure to perform in so many ways have an explainable neurological answer!

After a lifetime of self blame and being blamed by others, I can finally understand my own neurology and make accommodations in my life to help make things easier and safer, less frustrating and
more pleasant.

How does visual processing disorder play a part in your life???

It may require some thought and sorting of your life experiences, but for many of us, it will explain so much of our past struggles.

With new knowledge of our neurology we can make adjustments to live a better life.

3 thoughts on “Autism and Visual Processing

  1. I want to hug and comfort your younger self sooo much, and to tell you it will all make sense someday!!! I just wish it hadn’t taken 68 years… Thanks for providing much needed information/knowledge/confirmation to all who have suffered their whole life, not understanding…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes – me too! I was never able to hit a ball with a bat and learned to hate sports as a result. And I dreaded having to turn across traffic while driving, because I could never safely estimate how far away an oncoming car was and how fast it was coming at me. I often had impatient drivers behind me honking their horns. I no longer have to drive and hope I will never need to again.

    However, I remember once playing table tennis after a couple of beers. As usual, if I watched the ball, I missed it every time. But then I tried not watching the ball, instead just watching the other person’s bat hitting it — and then just guessed where it was going. And I did MUCH better. It’s like my brain was able to project where the ball would end up, but the visual processing interfered.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I recognize this in my daughter – we did take her to a developmental optometrist for vision therapy when she was younger. It helped some. The key for us is repetition and patience. Thank you for sharing your story – it is so helpful for people like me who are working to support my awesomely autistic kiddo in the best way I can.

    Liked by 2 people

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