VIsual Perception: Form Constancy and Visual Closure

Visual perception child with glasses

We are continuing our Visual Perception blog series that focuses on the 7 specific skills comprising visual perception. In the last post, we learned more about Visual-Spatial Relations and how to help your clients, students, or children improve it. Next up is Form Constancy and Visual Closure!

Knowing which specific skill area(s) your child struggles with will aid in choosing appropriate and effective treatment activities. In addition to occupational therapists, there are also specialized optometrists called developmental optometrists (also called behavioral optometrists) who evaluate and treat all of the skills above.

*If you have concerns about your child’s vision, we always suggest that you first consult with your child’s optometrist or ophthalmologist.*

Form Constancy

Form constancy is a visual perceptional skill that gives the ability to identify or sort items even if they are a different size, orientation, color, texture, or context. This includes symbols, letters, numbers, and real-life objects (a cat is still a cat whether it is in-person, in a picture, on television, white, orange, large, or small). 

How do you know if a child is struggling with form constancy? The child might have difficulty with identifying letters or numbers when they are presented in an unfamiliar font or handwriting. They may also have trouble identifying letters or words when they are presented in various locations, such as on a whiteboard, computer screen, or on paper. The child might struggle to recognize objects when they are placed in a different location than usual. They may not recognize familiar places when shown in a photograph.

Visual Closure

Visual closure is the ability to look at only part of an item and still recognize it by envisioning it as a whole. When working correctly, the brain should be able to fill-in-the-blanks of familiar objects, symbols, and words. This skill makes us more efficient readers and helps us make logical inferences about the things we see in our environment. When an individual has to see every single letter of every single word they read, it will slow them down significantly. Rather, we teach children to scan words more quickly by recognizing common words by their first and last letters and the general length and shape of the letters in-between. It also helps you spot items in a very messy drawer (where part of the item is covered by other items) or when you see a common traffic sign that has graffiti covering part of the picture. Using visual closure skills, you will still know what the sign means.

Check out the list below for lots of fun ways to help your child develop form constancy and visual closure skills!

Tips and Tricks:

  • Our pre-made downloadable Form Constancy and Visual Closure skills packet is perfect for busy adults who want to quickly and effectively improve their child’s visual-spatial skills. Find it in our Teachers Pay Teachers store or our Etsy store!
  • Complete tangram puzzles
  • When learning letters, be sure they are presented in multiple fonts to emphasize that the same letter can look slightly different depending on the font it is written in (including print vs cursive when age-appropriate).
  • Use Picture Books- Use picture books and ask your child to find the different shapes in the picture. You can ask questions like: “show me the circles in this picture” or “what shape is the tabletop?”
  • Use a Shopping Catalog- Use a shopping catalog or magazine, and ask your child to point out objects that are of a specific shape. You could then cut them for your child to paste into a shape notebook. (Older kids can practice their cutting skills and do this for a younger sibling!)
  • Equilibrio Game – fun game for children ages 7+ years that incorporates form constancy with visual-spatial skills
  • Day and Night Game – Similar to Equilibrio above but for children ages 2-6 years old
  • Spot It! – Great for form constancy practice as you look for matching items that are often different sizes and orientations. Suggested for ages 4+ years
  • Jumbo Book of Hidden Picture Puzzles by Highlights – Ages 4-8 years (although we’re adults, and we still enjoy doing these!)
  • Highlights Hidden Pictures 2020 4-Book Set – Another option very similar to above.
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What are your favorite activities to address form constancy and visual closure skills? Let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for our next visual skill post– Visual Sequential Memory!

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