Visual motor integration fits in seamlessly with the overarching theme of this blog, which is that vision affects and is affected by more than just the eyes. It bears repeating that your eyes, brain, and body exist not as isolated parts, but interconnected functions of a whole you.
Our motor skills are what allow us to move. We have fine motor skills, which are small movements using our smaller muscles such as fingers and wrists. Fine motor skills include eye hand coordination, hand writing, coloring, typing, tying shoes, and more of the like. Then we have our gross motor skills which allow us to make big movements with our larger muscles such as our arms and legs. These skills include eye body coordination, sports, and basically any activity that involves physical activity.
Issues with any of these skills could indicate a visual motor dysfunction, but not necessarily. There does not have to be a deficit in your motor skills or vision to still suffer from a visual motor dysfunction. That is because visual motor integration consists of how well the two systems communicate and work together as a team. According to the Visual Learning Center, “Visual-motor integration is comprised of the ability to correctly perceive visual information, process it, and move your hands or body accordingly.” VMI requires strong motor skills in conjunction with strong visual perception and visual-motor speed. This is more than just being able to catch or throw a ball, which is simply your vision guiding movement. You have to have the ability to correctly perceive a form in order to accurately replicate it as well.
You can spot a visual motor dysfunction early on by recognizing missed milestones such as crawling, walking, or even being able to easily grasp small objects. Other signs of visual motor dysfunction include:
· Poor spatial awareness
o Misaligning of numbers
o Sloppy handwriting
o Difficulty coloring inside the lines
o Difficulty writing within lines
· Poor grip
o Pencils, crayons, scissors, building blocks, puzzles
· Poor coordination
o Difficulty in sports
At The Center for Vision Development, we test for visual motor integration at the initial evaluation, and if found deficient, we incorporate activities designed to help integrate the two systems.
Attached below is a great link from an occupational therapist mother of three, outlining basic visual motor activities. Check it out and try the activities listed if you think your child may have a visual motor dysfunction!