11. Jul, 2017

Occupational Therapy jargon

So, you received your child's occupational therapy report - what does all the jargon mean?



Visual Discrimination 

It is the ability to identify small differences and details in a picture or object.


Visio-Spatial Relationships 

It is the ability to see the relationship (position) between two objects as well as between an object and yourself.  This is important for writing as well as mathematics.  Problems in this area may for example lead to the writing of numbers/letters the wrong way round.


Visual Form Constancy 

Visual Form Constancy is the ability to recognize that a shape (both two and three dimensional) remains the same regardless of its size, color, position in space or configuration.  This also involves knowing colors, sizes, uses of different forms and shapes, numbers and letters.  Poor constancy may lead to the inability to recognize basic concepts like colors and shapes and later on influence reading and writing.


Visual Figure-Ground 

The ability to focus on the foreground of material presented visually, rather than the background. Those who have difficulty with this may find it hard to keep their place while copying or reading and/or may find a crowded page or illustrations confusing.


Visual Closure 

It is the process or ability to fill in missing parts of a visual stimulus; for example to supply a letter missing from a word or a word missing from a sentence. 


Visual Memory 

It is the ability to remember a single object for a short period of time.


Visual Sequential Memory 

It is the ability to remember more than one object in the right sequence.





Postural tone

It is the tension in the muscles during rest this can for example influence your sitting posture.  With low to low-normal muscle tone children tend to get easily tired and struggle to keep upright positions for a long time.


Balance and equilibrium 

It is the ability to maintain your body’s position in space.  Poor balance and equilibrium may present with clumsiness and uncertain movements.


Laterality and dominance  

This influence a child’s left and right concept as well as the use of a preferred hand, foot and eye.  A child tends to use both hands if their dominance is not fixed, which leads to poor hand skills. If a child’s laterality is not fixed he will find it difficult to write and read from left to right and it can also influence their spatial concepts negatively.


Bilateral integration 

It is the ability to coordinate the two sides of the body in order to move it together in a rhythmic and synchronized manner.  Problems in this area can complicate activities were both hands must be used for example constantly supporting a page while writing with the dominant hand, rotating a paper while cutting with the other hand, making a bow, doing jumping patterns like jumping jacks.  Bilateral integration also influences a child’s ability to cross their midlines and therefore also has an influence on spatial problems and reversals of letters and numbers.


Midline crossing

This is the ability of the one side of the body to cross over to the other side by moving across the center line of the body, thus the right hand can cross over the midline and pick up an object from the left side of the body. Avoidance of midline crossing can be seen when they turn their books more than usually needed or they can move their bodies to the one side. Problems in this area may lead to number- and letter reversals and also leads to difficult writing positions.


Motor planning 

It is t he ability to form an idea about what you want to do, to plan the action, and finally to carry out the action.  This is usually more noteworthy with new and unknown tasks.  A problem in this area leads to difficulties with the planning, organizing and initiation of new activities. 


Visual motor integration

Visual-motor integration is the ability to coordinate and monitor motor movements with the eyes.  It is required for tasks such as writing and copying material, handwriting/cursive, pencil-paper tasks, copying from the board, and drawing. Students with visual motor integration difficulties are often impaired in their ability to keep up with written work. It may also lead to problems with fine motor tasks that rely heavily on vision like threading a needle, drawing, painting, craftwork, building things with blocks, repairing things, and using a mouse on a computer.


Eye movements

It is the ability of the eyes to follow a moving object horizontally and diagonal.


Fine motor skills 

Controlled movements of the smaller muscle groups, especially muscles in the fingers, that is used for the manipulation of smaller objects.  Problems in this area lead to poor writing abilities, poor cutting abilities and difficulty in handling small objects.