Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)

An individual with Visual Processing Disorder (VPD) may have good eyesight, but they are likely to have a problem understanding what they are looking at. An individual may be able to see a physical object in front of them, but interpreting how far away, how big or what shape it is can be a problem.

Understanding Visual Processing Disorder

There are a few variations of Visual Processing Disorder. Some individuals may be unable to gain a full understanding of the difference between two, similar objects. Whereas some people with this condition may not be able to grasp sequences that they have seen, or they may not be able to remember letters, words or sentences in the order that they first appeared.

Visual-Spatial issues will usually affect a person in a way that they may not be able to grasp the distance between some items in front of them. There is also a variation based around visual-motor processing, where an individual may have difficulty understanding how close they are to an object, or how likely it is that they will trip or collide with the object.

Visual Processing Disorder influences the way a person sees things. It is not a visual disability, as individuals can often have excellent vision, but the ability to understand what they are looking at can be difficult.

Visual Processing Disorder can make school difficult for children. Individuals can have a limited understanding of words and letters due to being unable to interpret an order of sequences, how to differentiate between similar letters or being able to remember words that they have recently read. This can lead to teachers or medical professionals suspecting learning difficulties like Dyslexia, or even ADHD.

understanding visual processing disorder

Symptoms and signs of Visual Processing Disorder

Children may display symptoms of a Visual Processing Disorder if they are struggling to develop their reading or writing ability. Writing in a straight line can prove difficult for an individual with VPD. If a child appears unable to tell the difference between words or letters that have a similar shape, then the individual may also struggle with learning to read. These symptoms can affect spelling ability, leading to suspicions of Dyslexia.

symptoms and signs of visual processing disorder

Children may appear clumsy if they are having regular falls or seem unable to avoid walking into objects. These symptoms can also be a sign of Dyspraxia. It could be a case that the individual’s hand-eye coordination has had a delay in development, but a Visual Processing Disorder is also a possibility.

An individual may have trouble learning sequences, and may have difficulty remembering what order words or letters came in. This may lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and low self-esteem if the individual is asked to do a task involving sequences.

An individual may not be able to figure out various objects in a room if they are being blocked by another item. If a television has a large box in front of it, an individual may have difficulty realising that there is a television in the room.

Types of Visual Processing Disorder

  • Visual Discrimination Issues

    If a person with Visual Processing Difficulties has difficulty specifying the difference between letters or words which have similar shapes, the individual may have Visual Discrimination Issues.

  • Visual Figure-Ground Discrimination Issues

    This variation of VPD can affect a person’s ability to see the shape of a letter or word in comparison to its background, so a word written on a piece of coloured paper can cause processing issues.

  • Visual Sequencing Issues

    This variation can lead an individual to become confused or mixed up with sequences that they have read. The individual may be unable to recall words or sentences in the order they originally saw them in.

  • Visual-Motor Processing Issues

    This variation affects an individual’s interpretation of size and distance, and many of the symptoms overlap with Dyspraxia. A child may not be able to keep their writing within the space provided if they are using lined paper. An individual may also have difficulty understanding the size and spacing of objects in front of them, and may not be able to assess how close they are to objects, which can lead to collisions and injuries.

  • Long Or Short Term Memory Issues

    This is where an individual can have difficulty remembering words or items that they have seen.

  • Visual-Spatial Issues

    People with this variation of VPD will often have difficulty being able to judge the distance between two objects. An individual may not be able to assess where to place their hands to hold an item, without displacing other items nearby.

  • Visual Closure Issues

    This can affect the interpretation of objects in a room which are only partly in sight. If a chair is blocking the full view of a cupboard, an individual may not realise there is a cupboard behind the chair.

  • Letter And Symbol Reversal Issues

    People with this variation of VPD may struggle to understand the difference between two numbers or letters which mirror each other. For example, a “6” and a “b” are very similar, and an individual may not be sure which one is applicable to the task they are doing.

What to do if your child is diagnosed with Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)

There are plenty of professionals available who are specialists in Visual Processing issues. The first step may be to find someone with this expertise, as they will be able to provide advice, guidance and answer any questions that you may have.

It is possible for your child to be provided with a classroom assistant, or some specialist help outside of class. The school that your child attends may also be able to provide special textbooks which are written in a style which suits your child’s visual requirements.

Special types of paper can also be provided, if your child has difficulty keeping their writing within the lines on lined paper, or struggles to write in a straight line.

diagnosed with visual processing disorder

Visual Processing Disorder FAQs

A child can adapt to visual processing difficulties, but the condition cannot be cured. There are ways of managing the condition, and it is advisable to speak to your child’s school so that you can discuss the most effective ways to help your child.

People with Dyslexia tend to have difficulty recalling particular words after hearing a specific sound. Whereas people with Visual Processing Disorder can have trouble remembering or understanding words, shapes or other items that they have seen.

No, they are different conditions. It is possible for someone with Visual Processing issues to have good eyesight.

Much like many other conditions such as Dyslexia or Dyspraxia, a Visual Processing Disorder is unlikely to affect intelligence, and so the condition and the individual’s intelligence are separate. Many people with a VPD, or symptoms of a VPD, have long and successful careers.

Visual Processing Disorder comes in eight different variations. Some people with a VPD have difficulty processing how close they are to an object, the distance between two different objects or have difficulty understanding where a word ends, and the background begins. Other people with a VPD may have difficulty learning sequences or recalling things that they have read.


Visual Processing Disorder comes in eight different variations, all of which affect an individual’s ability to interpret and understand things that they can see. A Visual Processing Disorder is different from a visual impairment, as it is possible for an individual to have high quality eyesight.

Some people with a Visual Processing Disorder may have visual memory issues, such as struggling to remember words or letters that they have seen. Other people with a VPD may have difficulty differentiating between similar letters or words.

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