The Visual System is pretty self-explanatory. Even if you are not familiar with Sensory Processing, you have probably heard the term, Visual Input. It is one of the first systems we are taught about in school. We are taught to use our sense of sight to see, observe, and make connections. However, we aren’t always taught the importance this system plays in our body’s ability to feel in control and cantered. In fact, I think it is one system that can go widely overlooked because it seems so basic and “black or white”. If I had to define the Visual System without using medical terms, I would define it as our body’s ability to make sense of the world using our sense of sight. It is our body’s way of taking in information about our surrounding to help us gauge if they are safe, harmful and even whether they are important to notice or not. It isn’t simply about our ability to see (20/20 vision), but our ability to track, locate, and discriminate things around us.
Determining the tint of our shirt to wear for the day, finding our socks in the sock drawer, tracking the teacher as she walks around the room. All of these things require us to use our sense of vision to be successful day to day. If I had to define this system with one word, I would use…
Without a regulated visual system, we are unable to focus on the important details that help us understand the world around us and the environment we are in. Currently, I am surrounded by books, pens, my water bottle, some loose papers, and a left over snack. Because my visual system is intact, I am able to still focus on the computer screen and write these words. Because of my visual system, I am able to focus in and decipher which items surrounding me are important, and which ones can be ignored.
Visual: The sense of sight. A visual seeker will enjoy looking at different lights and colours. Sometimes children enjoy tilting their heads to one side to watch car wheels spin, or squinting to change their visual perception. Visual seekers will enjoy bubble tubes, fiber optics, sand timers and light up toys that are visually stimulating. For more visual fun, try tinted lenses glasses and a bubble machine. These are all things my children enjoy and I do hope they help yours. If your child is flooding the bathroom, playing in the toilet or tipping your shampoos out everywhere, they are sensory seeking. They are not misbehaving; instead, redirection is what’s called for. Sensory play is easy and fun and needed for our children with sensory needs. It helps to ground and regulate them.
Some cheap, easy examples are:
Water play, bubbles, foamy soap, bath paints and empty bottles for pouring.
Rice, lentils, pasta and dried beans for pouring. Never use black beans or kidney beans, as they are toxic until cooked We struggle with finding the balance, since the visual stimulus is something he seeks and desires, but the rest of his systems completely shut down when he is “plugged in”. What we do know, is that if we want to get his full attention, we need to remove all visual stimulus, we need to get down on his level and make sure he knows are talking to him. We have to be completely aware at all times of his surroundings and he has in his environment.
Sensory Processing is Complex. It is different for every child, because every child is unique. The problems arise when a child either seeks or avoids visual input.Visual Input Cheat Sheet Printable listing behaviors you might see if your child is with avoiding or seeking this type of input.