Visual discrimination involves the ability to perceive words accurately by noting likenesses and differences in words. There are several ways in which readers, especially beginning readers, experience difficulty with the visual discrimination of words. They often do not note likenesses and differences of vowels and consonants in words, and/or display reversals, omissions and additions in their reading.  For example, a student who does not note the difference between words like went and want, ride and rode, horse and house, confused and confessed may be one who experiences difficulty with vowel discrimination. A student who experiences difficulty with consonant discrimination may confuse words such as then and when, would and could, ever and even, and presents and prevents. Reversals are displayed, for example, by confusion of was and saw, big and dig, spot and stop, conserve and conversed. Additions and omissions are evident in such word discrimination as our versus your, ever versus every, though versus through, and conversion versus conversation.

When a student shows signs of letter reversal when reading words, there is often a concern that the student may be learning disabled or dyslexic.  While reversals in reading may be one indicator that a student has a visual discrimination skill deficiency, a diagnosis of learning disabilities is based on multiple indicators.

The most common cause for visual discrimination problems, lies in the fact that students with visual discrimination problems do not focus on the individual letters of the word and/or note likenesses and, in particular, differences in words. These students often, for example, read words such as when as then, and then as when because they do not focus on the initial letter of the word and/or think about its initial letter sound. Parents and educators need to point out the differences in these words to students and to work toward establishing an internalized understanding of them.

In order to develop good visual discrimination skills students need consistent and developmentally presented vision training to help them learn how to establish consistent left-right eye movement and how to focus on the differences in similar words. 

Visual Discrimination: Noting Differences in Frequently Misperceived Words  was designed to help children overcome visual discrimination difficulties. It focuses on the most frequently misperceived words and uses techniques that are highly effective in developing this skill. For more information click on Teaching Materials  for this site. 

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