Children with visual impairments are very heterogeneous in terms of the extent of visual and developmental etiology. The aim of the present study was to investigate a possible correlation between prevalence of clinical risk factors of visual processing impairments and characteristics of viewing behavior. We tested 149 children with visual information processing impairments (90 boys, 59 girls; mean age (SD). =. 7.3 (3.3)) and 127 children without visual impairments (63 boys and 64 girls, mean age (SD). =. 7.9 (2.8)). Visual processing impairments were classified based on the time it took to complete orienting responses to various visual stimuli (form, contrast, motion detection, motion coherence, color and a cartoon). Within the risk group, children were divided into a fast, medium or slow group based on the response times to a highly salient stimulus. The relationship between group specific response times and clinical risk factors was assessed.The fast responding children in the risk group were significantly slower than children in the control group. Within the risk group, the prevalence of cerebral visual impairment, brain damage and intellectual disabilities was significantly higher in slow responding children compared to faster responding children. The presence of nystagmus, perceptual dysfunctions, mean visual acuity and mean age did not significantly differ between the subgroups.Orienting responses are related to risk factors for visual processing impairments known to be prevalent in visual rehabilitation practice. The proposed method may contribute to assessing the effectiveness of visual information processing in children.

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Research in Developmental Disabilities
Department of Neuroscience

Kooiker, M., Pel, J., & van der Steen, H. (2014). Viewing behavior and related clinical characteristics in a population of children with visual impairments in the Netherlands. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 35(6), 1393–1401. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2014.03.038