Visual Motor Skills: What they are and why they are important

What exactly are Visual Motor Skills?

Visual motor skills are also referred to as oculomotor or visual-motor integration. They are skills and abilities that come from the meeting of visual skills and motor skills. These skills allow us to use our eyes and hands in a coordinated and efficient way.

Oculomotor skills are a core for most of a child’s day to day activities. These activities include cutting, coloring, writing, catching or kicking a ball, tying shoes, and even feeding themselves. When everything is effectively communicating and working together, these activities are easy for children to complete and often require zero thought!

When these systems are not communicating correctly, children will have difficulty with many of these crucial daily life activities. Your child may not have any issues with acuity or perception. They also may not have any challenges with hand strength or movement. The issue can arise if these systems are not organized correctly, resulting in difficulties with visual motor skills.

Poor oculomotor skills can lead to difficulty with many life skills. These can include handwriting, drawing, completing mazes, getting their ideas down on paper, copying from the board at school and poor eye-hand coordination. Any of these could lead to your child losing confidence in their abilities prompting behavioral issues, frustration, and not meeting their full potential.

Getting each of these systems working efficiently is incredibly important to a child’s development and success at home, in the classroom, and at play.

Want to check on your child’s development? Try our free online screener to see how they are developing!

How to Improve Visual Motor Skills

At Spark Therapies, our team works with children who have difficulties with oculomotor skills by using a multisensory approach. This supports your child with additional sensory experiences, keeping therapy fun while improving visual-motor integration skills.

Deficits in visual motor skills may be caused by difficulties with underlying visual skills or motor skills. To identify a child’s current level of performance related to his oculomotor skills our occupational therapist, Marin, will administer a standardized assessment called the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration, also called the “Beery VMI”, for short. This provides Marin with important information on the development of your child’s visual and motor abilities. The goal is to see if he or she is performing appropriately for their age and what needs improvement.

Following the evaluation, Marin will meet and work with your family to develop goals. These are based on your child’s performance and design a treatment program that concentrates on improving these skills. Therapy will engage your child in various activities that incorporate movement, tactile, visual, and auditory sensations to enhance visual, fine and gross motor skills. Throughout therapy, our team will also provide activities and exercises for the child to complete at home. These might include mazes, dot-to-dots, puzzles or ball activities. Participation in home exercises is crucial. The idea is to help your child practice these skills during the week outside of therapy and lock in those improvements made every day.

Sources and Additional Resources.

Study: Occupational Therapy Effects on Visual-Motor Skills in Preschool Children

Study: Interventions to Facilitate Auditory, Visual, and Motor Integration in Autism: A Review of the Evidence

AOTA: Evidence-Based Practice

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