Visual motor integration and what it is
Visual motor integration (VMI) is the combined process of visual perception with motor coordination working together such as in hand-eye coordination. It is the capability of integrating visual input with motor output. Fine motor skills and visual perceptual skills combine to create VMI. This skill is integral to a child’s education in school because it allows them to write and draw and is also important for any type of physical activity involving a ball. Copying printed material to writing is a visual motor writing skill. Since writing is a form of geometric drawing, the drawing of shapes and other exercises also strengthen VMI.
Problems with Visual motor Integration
There are many different types of problems that children have with VMI ranging from mainly visual to mainly motor. Those with visual problems may not have visual processing difficulties but might have trouble remembering the shapes of letters or even seeing the differences in shapes. Those with motor problems usually have difficulties with their fine motor skills and thus they have a hard time utilizing their hands and fingers correctly to manipulate the small pens and pencils. There are still those that have neither problems with shapes of letters or with their fine motor skills but can’t seem to integrate the two successfully to produce legible writing. The copying and drawing of shapes can also be a problem for these children even though they know what the shapes look like and can use their hands for other fine motor skills.
Certain VMI difficulties that come up are:
• poor spacing in their writing
• writing letters and numbers backwards
• strange writing posture with their hands, no use of helping hand to stabilize paper
• frequently misspells words in writing but not orally, leaves out letters
• likes to solve math equations in their head rather than on paper
• fails to complete written assignments
• shows an aversion to writing in general or drawing
Strengthening Visual motor integration
Strengthening VMI can come in a variety of ways and activities. Most of these activities focus on strengthening the visual motor skills by engaging in hand based activities such as arts and crafts. Coloring books are excellent for getting a child used to working with a pen or pencil typed object. Cutting out shapes can help them memorize and understand the shapes better, while doing things such as paper origami can help them copy and create something they visually saw without using a pencil or pen. Half finished drawings and drawing books can also provide an opportunity to combine their visual and motor skills. Jigsaw puzzles or other types of puzzles can help to integrate shapes with hand movement. Learning to type on a computer can be a benefit for a child with VMI problems in learning how to spell visually rather than simply orally. These are just a few things that can help strengthen VMI.