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What is visuodyspraxia?

13 Sep 2019 11:00 | SIE News (Administrator)

Visuodyspraxia is when a person has problems with praxis and visual processing.... but what does that mean?

Visual processing refers to the brain's ability to use and interpret visual information from the world around us.

Praxis is how our brain plans for and carries out movements or activities that are new to us or that we have not done before. For children, this could be learning to jump or ride a bike; for adults, this could be learning to drive or use chopsticks. 

Dyspraxia or motor planning problems are terms used when an individual has praxis problems. Dyspraxia can make movements appear awkward or clumsy.

Dr Jean Ayres, who developed the theory of sensory integration, identified two types of praxis difficulties associated with underlying sensory issues:

  • somatodyspraxia; and
  • visuodyspraxia.

Visuodyspraxia, (verified in studies as recently as 2014),  describes when difficulties with visual perception and discrimination impact on a person’s ability to to plan and organise what to do and when to do it.

People with visuodyspraxia can have difficulty with eye-hand movements, such as ball games; difficulty with positioning self in relation to objects, such as steps or chairs; and difficulty with calculating the speed of their movements relative to other moving objects, eg, other people, balls during a ball game, etc.

Chapter 6 of Frames of Reference for Pediatric Occupational Therapy is a good resource to find out more information, especially table 4 (pages 111-112) which lists the functions of the visual system as well as indications of dysfunctions.

For many people, small adjustments to their environment or the way they are allowed to move at work or school can make a huge difference to how they manage their day-to-day life.  Assessment and treatment of sensory integration difficulties should only be carried out by a qualified therapist.  Ayres' Sensory Integration intervention (ASI) is a term used to describe intervention developed by Ayres to improve or develop sensory integration for children and adults with sensory integration difficulties. Therapists need specific training to understand the complex reasoning underpinning this therapy.

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