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What things - terms and words - mean

Areas of Human Performance

There are five areas of human performance - neurological, cognitive, physiological, psychological, social and emotional - and this is the level from which most doctors, therapists, psychologists, etc are looking at what we are doing, to determine if there is a problem. However, this is a very superficial level from which to consider anyone’s performance, with it being impossible to determine how we are doing what we are doing, from this perspective.

Visual perceptual performance takes us beyond this limited contemporary view, and allows us to look beneath the surface, and observe the actual point that all human performance is arising from. It also reveals that most of what we have accepted to be real and true is just an appearance, and is actually the result of something else that is occurring at a much deeper, and far more profound level than most are aware of.  Memory is an excellent example of one such an appearance.

Autism Spectrum

In visual perceptual terms, any one said to be on the autism spectrum is demonstrating the consequence of an inability to process and integrate the volumes of sensory information found within everyday life. Fundamentally, there is a failure to integrate sensory information into patterns of information and the person is left perceiving the world in an incomplete way. All actions any of us perform, are performed on the basis of what we have integrated, and, consequently, the person's actions will tell us a great deal about what has gone wrong for them on the level of perception.

One of the most common consequences of perceptual deficits is that information that has not been integrated, remains in the person's nervous system as undifferentiated information or noise. In other words, because the information has not been integrated it remains in the system as individual pieces of sensory information, which is not understood and does not make any sense - information needs to be  integrated into patterns, in order to make sense of it. It is this undifferentiated sensory information that causes sensory overload .

Sensory overload can be incredibly unpleasant, especially when it is significant.  Interestingly, when I look at a list of the signs of autism, I am immediately confronted by a list of things actions and behaviours directly attributable to sensory overload. When we are in sensory overload, we will do just about anything we can to escape it, or to control our environment and everything in it. People on the autism spectrum are typically demonstrating exactly this or, when they cannot escape, that they are doing the best that they can to deal with it.

One common behaviour we see in people in severe sensory overload are actions designed to override the overload. They may rock, hit themselves, stare at bright lights or rapidly moving objects, or arrange or control the environment and objects in it. When the impact of sensory overload is understood, most of what people on the spectrum do actually seem very reasonable.

One of the most insidious beliefs of our time is that autism spectrum conditions cannot be treated or cured. This is simply not true. Autism and all its variances are all types of visual perceptual deficit and can typically be improved upon in some very substantial ways, if not totally and completely resolved. 


Balance is generally seen to be something we maintain, because structures within our ears tell us that we are moving and, which way is up. Often, a relationship is seen to exist between balance and falls, especially in the elderly. However, after many years of working with elderly people and in the field of visual perceptual performance, I know that most falls occur when someone is turning. Frequently, there is a history of getting up at night to go to the toilet and a fall occurring when the person turns at some point on their journey. I also find that these people always demonstrate the existence of a visual perceptual deficit, which always predisposes us to sensory overload.

The mechanism by which these falls typically tend to occur is this.
  • The person has a visual perceptual deficit
  • Turning always increases the amount of sensory loading a person is exposed to by a massive degree
  • Sensory overload always leads to a decline in performance, in this instance the inability to maintain a constant and consistent level of physical performance, meaning that the integrity of the body and its walking posture cannot be maintained.
  • The person falls
In talking to such people, I have always found that they did not pass out or lose consciousness. They always state that they do not know what happened, they just fell.

Behaviour & Emotional Management

One thing I quickly discovered, in working with kids, is none of us need go far to discover the world is full of experts on raising kids. However, this snippet is not meant to add to all of that; it's more about keeping it simple.

The golden rule of behaviour is to ask what it's going to look like when the child turns 15. If that causes us to shudder or cringe, then it's probably a good idea to make some changes now. It is always far easier to modify behaviour when a child is young, than when they are older, as the cost only ever increases exponentially over time.

HOWEVER!!!, the reality is that it is all too easy to label a child's behaviour as 'bad,' without ever considering what the child is conveying through that behaviour. Simply judging something as bad on such a limited basis, has little to no value at all, especially if we lack the background and training to understand what the child is actually communicating. Far too often I have encountered children who have literally been doing the best that they possibly can, and yet, they have never received a moment's recognition for their endeavours, or they have been punished, or even abused, for their efforts.

Ultimately, I can only say that it is not possible to fully understand a child's behaviours unless we also understand the origins of human performance. It has been my continued and ongoing experience that behaviour and performance are intimately intertwined, and that so many of those who state they have the professional background to make a determination about a child's behaviour, most certainly do not. They either lack the clinical background entirely, or they don't understand the origins of human performance. Their assessment is often incredibly superficial and, more often than not, their conclusions are ludicrous. It's probably no wonder that I often say that many so-called experts should have the letters I.D.I.O.T after their name.

Unless we fully understand human performance (as a function), along with how behaviour intertwines with and relates to this, we will only ever have a superficial and simplistic understanding of these kids. In most situations, there is a complex dynamic going on, where both parents and child are literally doing the best they possibly can. Certainly, the child's function must be considered in tandem to behaviour, because the behaviour will most certainly be telling us a great deal about the child's performance.

If you are looking for some useful resources, to help you around behaviour and parenting, I only ever recommend two people, both of whom are clinical psychologists.

Alan Kazdin’s book ‘Parenting the Defiant Child’ is extraordinarily simple and it works. There are also various video examples of this technique scattered across the Internet.

Nigel Latta is a New Zealand Clinical Psychologist, who has worked with serious offenders, as well people of every other age and background. One thing he does know is how it is likely to turn out if things are not done right in childhood. His website is www.goldfishwisdom.org

Chronological Age

A child’s chronological age is the age they are from the date of their birth. This is the age we are all referring to when we ask how old a child is. You can read more about it here.

Cognitive Deficits

Cognitive deficits or a decline in cognitive performance is said to have occurred when someone presents with issues with memory, problem solving, decision making, judgment, reasoning, etc. Overall we see a general decline in their performance because their mental faculties are seen to also in decline.

Cognitive Performance

Cognition (or cognitive performance) is a term used to describe our mental capacities. Cognitive performance is the primary focus in most neurological conditions, because it determines how well we make sense of the world and engage with it.

Interestingly, however, most cognitive skills cannot be explained in the sense of how we perform them and they cannot be corrected with traditional therapies. It was only in discovering visual perceptual performance that I began to understand that cognitive performance is an appearance only, of something deeper and much more profound.

It is only when we go beyond that traditional perspective that we realise how blind we have been to something that is now so obvious. But that is the nature of realisation and epiphany; they take us beyond what we previously took to be gospel and reveal its limitations, often in a very clear way.

My journey into the world of visual perceptual performance did exactly this to me and revealed that the cognitive skills we are all usually familiar with are merely ripples on the surface of the pond. We also discover that we have created various myths around what those ripples are and, when we look beneath the surface the depth of our disillusionment becomes very clear. Now we know that there are fish and turtles, and all sorts of other things causing those ripples and that there is no longer any reason to remain focused on the appearances, because we know what is causing them.

These days, I do still talk of cognitive skills but only as functional indicators or pointers to what is going on beneath the surface.

Compensatory Techniques

Compensatory techniques are the things that we do that are basically a work-around, rather than a means of completing a task fully and functionally. For example, giving a child who struggles in school a computer, instead of addressing the cause of their struggle, is a way of compensating for their struggle. In my experience, there is nearly always a significant downside to such techniques.

Complex or Multiple Demand Tasks

Complex or Multiple Demand Tasks are tasks which inherently contain more than 3 steps. The bottom line for functional performance is that we need to be able to perform tasks comprised of 3 steps or stages. For example, a child needs to be able to be told, “Go to your room and get your pajamas on and brush your teeth,” and complete all 3 steps. If they cannot then there is most definitely a breakdown in their task performance. The age of the child needs to be taken into account, of course.

In elderly populations, I never recommend a walker with wheels on it for anyone who has a neurological cognitive based disorder. We can tell when this is not an appropriate assistive device because they will end up with the walker way out in front and leaning over whilst they push it. Once their visual perceptual deficit has been corrected then they can be given a wheeled walker.

Most tasks we perform everyday are actually complex or multiple demand eg: walking, talking, getting dressed, taking a shower, writing, etc.

This inability to follow 3-stage commands is a functional indicator of a visual perceptual deficit.


Context can be defined as:

The situation something exists within

Our capacity to perform contextually is really the capacity to continue to perform a task, recognise and object, utilise a skill, etc, even when the situation (context) changes.

Most people who have a visual perceptual deficit also struggle with context. It is never enough for me to have a client generate a skill or perform a task in one situation only. They need to be presented with as many contextual changes as it takes to produce a consistent level of performance. However, the sensory loading of the task or situation is also crucial here. We know that performance always declines when a person goes into sensory overload, consequently, it becomes critical that the client is exposed to both, different contexts and to increasing volumes of sensory information.

Kids who have a significant issue with context are often missing substantial amounts of critical information from their past, simply because they were unable to process it and integrated it; therefore it made no sense to them and was not included in the tasks they were engaged with. If there is one group of kids for who early intervention is absolutely crucial, it is this group. The sooner we can identify these issues, the sooner we can work with the child to expand their information base. While the Visual Perceptual Therapy is not appropriate for most children before the age of 4½  years, there is a lot we can do by way of play therapy, which will mean these children do continue to progress. In situations where a child is not identified early on, it means a lot of hard work, for everyone concerned. They do need to be exposed to the information they are missing, and they will need help to build the necessary contextual inter-relationships required to make sense of it all.

Of all visual perceptual deficits, issues with contextual inter-relationships are the most complex and demanding to correct.


While dementia is generally termed to be a decline in cognitive performance generally, it is a label typically assigned to the elderly. The reality is that most ‘dementia’s are actually a visual perceptual deficit  and can be treated and, in many instances, resolved.

Developmental Age

One of the best things we can do for a child is identify their developmental age. Developmental age is the age level the child is performing to. The idea of telling a parent their child has a developmental disorder has always seemed to be a rather limited thing to do. After all, what does it mean that they have such a thing?

In my experience, most of us are well aware of any gross limitations in a child’s performance; they may roll, sit, crawl or stand at a later age than we expect, or even miss some steps out along the way. However, there are many other limitations in a child may demonstrate, which typically go overlooked or are misinterpreted because we are caught up in what is happening on the 'surface of the pond' and have not realised there is a whole new world, waiting to be discovered, underneath what we readily see and observe.

It is a common occurrence for parents attending their child's therapy session with me, to become shocked when they discover the actual level the child is performing at. Determining a child's developmental age is an extremely useful way of avoiding such shocks, and identifying early on, the level a child is actually performing at. Learning to identify a child’s developmental age is one of the most useful things we can do, because, as soon as we realise it is less than it should be, we can contact someone who knows about such things and start the process to bring the child up to speed.

You can read more about determining a child's developmental age here.

Developmental Delay

A developmental delay is said to occur when a child is performing at a level that is less than we would expect for their age.

While the term is in common usage in children who do not meet their developmental milestones – rolling, sitting, crawling, speech and language, etc – all kids who struggle actually have a developmental disorder. Sadly, these are often not picked up on when the child has mainly cognitive issues, rather than issues of motor performance.

Personally I am rather averse to telling a parent their child has a developmental delay because it is such a general term and doesn’t actually identify the level the child is performing to. I much prefer to talk about the child’s developmental age because that is something we are all able to determine, and it allows parents to track a child’s progress because their developmental age should improve and become comparable with their chronological age in response to the Visual Perceptual Therapy.

Developmental Disorder

The term ‘developmental disorder’ generally refers to conditions which interfere with a child’s development, often resulting in developmental delay or 'Learning Disability' The term is not a diagnosis within itself and is used in a more generalised sense than diagnoses are. A statement may be made that a child has a developmental disorder, which could then be qualified by adding a diagnosis eg: “Possibly cerebral palsy.”


Dexterity can be defined as nimbleness or dexterity. In visual perceptual terms we talk about the refinement of performance, where we have continued to hone the skill or ability until we are able to perform it with consummate ease.

Fundamentally, the ability to refine performance cannot happen without our visual perceptual performance being intact, simply because it is the depth and degree of visual focus, which allows this to occur. Addressing any visual perceptual deficit always results in improved or refined performance and, exposing people to specific tasks, which focus on the requirement to hone visual perceptual performance, always results in substantial increases in the overall performance of the person.


A diagnosis is really only a label obtained by looking at all the things a person is presenting with. A diagnosis can be a useful thing, because it does allow us to know what we might expect to see in a client. However, these days there are issues with putting people into boxes and then treating them on the basis of that label. The consequence of doing this is that the needs of the individual typically do not get met, and are often never actually identified in the first instance.

I do not treat my clients on the basis of their diagnosis and I really don’t care what anyone else may think about them, or even what the results of any tests and assessments are. I am far more interested in discovering why that person is struggling and correcting their issues at the point they are arising from. At the core of anyone's performance, far more is going on than will ever be discovered through skating around on the surface of the pond, and people who have never looked any further than what is right in front of their eyes, will only ever be treating the symptoms of a problem, not the cause.

So far, I haven't yet met anyone who looks human performance as I do and that is really a great shame. All around the world there are so many people who just do not get access to a therapy that is literally life changing and, when it comes to kids, they just don't get the help they need, to resolve the cause of their struggles. When we hear it said that certain developmental disabilities are with the child for life, it's typically because the people working with them cannot see below the surface of the child's performance.

When I evaluate a child, we all get to see exactly what has gone wrong for them. In fact, the obviousness of this breakdown in performance can be really rather stunning to most observers. I have heard many a person say, "Well, if they can't do that, it's no wonder they can't do these other things." It becomes very apparent that the things we see someone struggling with are not the actually problem. They are only ever the consequence of a breakdown at the core of their performance; and, when that breakdown is corrected, we get to see some rather amazing transformations in both the person and their performance. Those ideas we may have had previously, of ‘managing’ a person’s condition or that they have a different way of ‘learning,’ are revealed to be untrue and extremely limiting.

Fundamentally, I have yet to meet anyone with a neurological cognitive based disorder who does not have a visual perceptual deficit at the bottom of their struggle, and it's far easier on everyone to address this, instead of puddling around on the surface of the pond.

Discriminative, Comparative or Relative Reasoning

Discriminative, Comparative or Relative Reasoning refers to our capacity to relate anything within our experience to all other things and, while we might also have the idea that we can relate these things to things we have experienced in the past, ultimately, everything we are relating it to is absolutely current; because what we have integrated is always current and up to date, right now and in this moment.

This may seem to be a difficult concept to grasp; however, all I am doing is removing all idea of past experiences from the equation and confirming that all we have ever integrated is current. The past simply does not have an influence here, except in what we think and believe. We may certainly improve upon or refine our sensory processing and integrated task performance but we have to be willing and able to engage in the experience of life to do this. It is at this point that we discover the impact our psychological and emotional status has on our performance. Most people are far more likely to want to maintain an intellectual or thinking relationship to life, in order to avoid directly experiencing it. It takes some inner strength and fortitude, and a certain ruthlessness, to be willing to engage with our inner states that is our psychological and emotional status.

Any comparative or relative reasoning we engage in, is either based on the recognition of differences between the things in our life, including the situations in which we find ourselves, or it is entirely a mind based exercise, in which, instead of experiencing life, we are engaged in interpreting those experience based upon our unresolved psychological and emotional content. The latter is far more common than the former and also highlights the reality that our psychological and emotional status will interrupt our engagement in task performance before anything else will.

Discriminative, comparative or relative reasoning is crucial to our functional performance, however, our deference to our mind and to interpreting our experiences, typically corrupts our performance. Often we are not ever aware that we are doing this and, at least a part of the therapeutic process, is to bring our performance into conscious awareness, so that we can see and understand what we are doing and why.


Dyslexia is often said to be a ‘learning disability,’ or a ‘different way of thinking.’ It is also often said to be incurable; but, actually, none of this is correct.

At its core, dyslexia is an issue with knowing how different aspects of the things in our worldview relate to one another. For example, not knowing how the 'c' relates to the 'l' in the letters 'b' and 'd' causes these letters to be reversed.

Far from being ‘incurable,’ dyslexia is typically one of the easiest issues to correct with the Visual Perceptual Therapy.  I will see most children with pure dyslexia only twice and their problem completely resolves.

Ultimately, it is the ideas we have about dyslexia that are disabling and limiting, not the condition itself. We just have to understand what we are seeing and where it is arising from, and then we can correct these issues…………..quickly and effectively.

Emotional Performance

Emotional performance is something we all have but may not have explored in depth. Our emotional states, like just about everything else in our lives, is a felt experience. Our emotional states are also commonly the reason we may feel overwhelmed in life. In fact, our emotions are one of the most primary causes of sensory overload and, while there may be some emphasis placed on sensory processing issues in kids; the role emotional states play is typically overlooked.

When it comes to emotions and the impact they have, anxiety is the main player. It is a major cause of sensory overload and also has tremendous impact on our cognitive performance. I have worked with adults who have ultimately caused a decline in their cognitive performance simply because of the way they engage with life. Anxiety also plays a major role in cognitive decline in the elderly.

When a person’s cognitive performance is less than ‘normal’ or is dysfunctional, some degree of sensory overload will naturally occur. However, both that sensory overload, and the loss of ability to deal with life on its own terms, often results in some feelings of anxiety, especially if we find ourselves making mistakes and losing our independence. And, while this is particularly true in adults, children are not immune to such things.

The thing about anxiety is that it floods our system with some very strong feelings. On its own, anxiety is usually enough to make us feel overwhelmed, so, when it is compounded by sensory overload from other sources, we can quickly end up spiralling out of control - sensory overload, anxiety, increased sensory overload, increased anxiety.

The result of this is usually an attempt to minimise the amount of sensory loading we are exposed to. We can see such people begin to withdraw from life and social situations because the other thing that sensory overload does is diminish our performance, meaning we are less able to perform with confidence and competence in situations where we are find ourselves in overload. Withdrawing from life is not a useful thing to do and will only accelerate the decline in cognitive performance - it's very much an issue of "If you don't use it, you'll lose it."

This cycle and its associated issues are the main reason why I recommend any person experiencing a cognitive decline be treated with an anti-depressant; it can have really a rather profound impact, increasing a person’s performance rather quickly.

The reality is that our psychological and emotional state can adversely impact on our cognitive performance, no matter what our age. But it is only when we understand cognition from the visual perceptual performance perspective, that all of this becomes exceedingly clear.

Experiential States

Experiential states refer to the direct nature of life. Most of us are caught up in our minds and what they think, including our interpretation of those experiences. The reality is that most of our suffering comes from our interpretation of those experiences and the things we hold on to in our minds – beliefs and ideas, etc.

We only discover the nature of experiential states when we make a decision to look at what is going on here right now and stop becoming entranced by the constant stream of thought running through our minds. It takes discipline to do this but it is incredibly important to know that most children are always in experiential states because they are still being trained, by the adults, into developing a mind to get lost in.

The key to understanding visual perceptual performance is in this capacity to stop looking with mind and to the mind for answer, and to start experiencing. All through the years that I have been exploring the world of visual perceptual performance, I have known that this is a new an unexplored landscape and have resisted any urge to interpret or make something up. If I came across something I didn’t understand or did not have an answer to, I asked the universe and typically received the answer via the next client I saw. Ultimately, it has been a self-revelatory journey.

Fine Motor Skills

Problems with fine motor performance are relatively common in kids. Kids who struggle with holding pens and pencils and writing letters and words are said to have a fine motor problem and are often sent off for therapy. However, this therapy typically consists of having the child practice what they have already demonstrated they struggle with. Such therapy is a symptomatic treatment that is not based in any understanding of what is causing the child's difficulties. Sadly, many of these children will have an undiagnosed problem within the core of their performance, which is never identified and never addressed.

Visual perceptual performance provides a major insight into fine motor performance and how it develops. If you observe a child who struggles, their struggle is often with tasks that are highly refined. None of the tasks a child is expected to perform in school can be said to be simple or unrefined, if they were, monkeys would be performing them with ease.

Ultimately, it is our visual perceptual performance, which allows us to refine our performance and do these tasks. In fact, the refinement of any and all of our performance, only ever occurs relative to our capacity in visual perceptual performance. If the child is not able to step fully, into the priority of visual perceptual performance (this occurs at around age 3 - 31/2 years) then they will not be able to refine their performance enough to perform those educational tasks. Fundamentally, pretty much any childhood neurological and cognitive struggle and issues with literacy and numeracy can be traced back to a breakdown in visual perceptual performance.

Fine motor performance happens on the back of, or as a consequence of, our visual perceptual performance. It is not uncommon to find a child's developmental age reflecting a substantially younger level of performance, than we may have imagined. The child's level of performance in fine motor tasks is usually a very clear indicator of the developmental age level of the child. Ultimately, the child's performance in fine motor skills is entirely dependent upon their visual perceptual performance, with deficits in visual perceptual performance being the problem and the fine motor performance only ever being a symptom of this.

To someone such as myself, issues with fine motor performance are functional indicators of an issue with visual perceptual performance ie: fine motor skills, or their absence or limitation, tell us a child has a problem with processing information visually and can even tell us what we are likely to find upon evaluation. If we correct the underlying visual perceptual deficit, the child’s fine motor performance naturally improves.

Functional Capacity

Functional capacity is the capacity an individual has to perform any task in a functional way. The less functional a person is, the less competent and functional their performance is and we see these people to be struggling with routine, everyday tasks.

Function & Functional Performance

Function can be defined as:

Having skills, abilities and process that are useful
and work and, achieving outcomes that are
also useful and also work.

Functional performance refers to the same thing ie: our performance is useful and works, producing outcomes that are useful and also work.

Conversely, the term ‘dysfunctional’ is used when something does not work.

Functional performance is at the core of any child’s struggle in school and the truth about kids is that:
Functional kids don’t struggle.

Any one of us can walk into any classroom on the planet and see this to be true. As a consequence of this, I typically avoid making any reference to ‘learning’ or any other educational term, simply because education does not understand functional performance and, instead of educating itself, it has gone off into the wilderness, reinvented the wheel and come back with a square model it has tried to sell us as the superior model.

Most of what is said within education about kids who struggle, is a lot of highly intellectualised drivel and has nothing at all to do with the reasons why kids struggle. We all need to be aware that it is fundamentally impossible to teach a child out of a functional deficit or to teach them in spite of their struggle and that the first order of business should be correcting that struggle. When we do that the kids can get on and do what they need to do, because they are functional and things will work for them.

Functional Deficits

Functional deficits are where there are gaps in performance, which are seen to be dysfunctional.

Functional Indicators

Functional indicators are pointers that exist in our everyday task performance, which tell us something that is going on at the deeper level of visual perceptual performance.

Once we step into the world of visual perceptual performance, the links between what we are observing there, and our observation of the more superficial levels of everyday task performance, start to become apparent. We can see why a person is doing what they are doing and how this relates to the point that performance is arising from. I often use ‘memory’ to demonstrate this point; because it becomes apparent that memory is just an appearance of something deeper.

Interestingly, the whole world has gone through various experiences of having commonly held beliefs being revealed to be flawed, many times. The world being flat and the sun revolving around the sun are two common examples; however, there are many, many other examples of this. Medicine in absolutely littered with things that were believed historically and now seem ludicrous, and yet, despite there being so many examples, human beings constantly reveal their reluctance to examine their beliefs and to explore beyond the limits of those beliefs.

This limited level of understanding is also responsible for the many judgments that are made about people who struggle. However, not having enough information to understand why someone is doing what they are doing not only results in judgments, it also results in myths and superstitions and we don’t have to look far to discover this, especially in relation to kids who struggle.

Functional indicators are an incredibly important tool, because it is not possible to see how anyone is doing anything from our everyday perspective; there is simple too much information contained within what we are observing at that everyday level and it obscures the ‘how’ from our view. I often liken this to staring down the barrel of a gun and not being able to see how the bullet is being fired because that bullet is in the way. Functional indicators allow us to understand what we are actually observing in anyone who is struggling to perform everyday tasks and are something any of us can learn to utilise.


An infarct or infarction refers to the death (necrosis) of tissue, due to inadequate blood supply. Consequently, an area of infarct on a CT scan, for example, refers to an area of the brain that has died because the blood supply to that area was blocked. This usually happens because a clot, often because an atheroma (accumulated fatty deposit on the lining of artery walls) broke off and was carried to the brain, where it lodged in the artery, when that artery became too small to carry it along.

These clots can also occur because of heart arrhythmias such as tachycardia or atrial fibrillation, where the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) do not empty out completely or fully, because the rapid heartbeat does not allow the heart to contract completely or fully. Blood tends to pool in these chambers, where it thickens and forms clots. These clots are then ejected out into the arteries where they can travel to the brain, and other areas of the body, and block the arteries in the same way an atheroma can.


Integration refers to the integration of sensory information and it follows on from the processing of sensory information. Integration, by its nature, involves sensory information coming together into patterns of information. This occurs because we naturally form inter-relationships between pieces of sensory information. For example, the young child forms an integrated pattern of ‘Mum,’ comprised of what she looks like, sounds like, feels like, tastes, like, smells like, etc. Inherent in this process is what ‘Mum’ is not and this forms the basis of discriminative or relative reasoning. I often say that a tree may be apparent because of what it is comprised of but the background it exists against also defines the tree.

When information is integrated, it is known and this takes us into the realm of experiential states, which is beyond mind and its beliefs and concepts. In this place, we are aware (either consciously or unconsciously) of what is within our experience and we do not need to think about it to know it, it just is.

The ability to form inter-relationships is crucial for integration to occur. When this capacity is broken or damaged, information is left out of our worldview and, because any action we take in and on the world, occurs on the basis of what is perceived, information left out of perception means that it is also left out of our task performance. Consequently, any person’s task performance will contain functional indicators of visual perceptual performance, which are pointers that indicate to us, something of what has gone wrong within that person’s perceptual performance.

The natural consequence of the formation of inter-relationships is that patterns of information naturally coalesce and come together. Our worldview is only comprised of such patterns; from the objects around us to the actions we perform to the behaviours we demonstrate.

Read more on integrated task performance here


Inter-relationships are the basic building block of our performance. We form inter-relationships between individual pieces of sensory information, with the natural consequence being that patterns of information coalesce or come together, out of which is essentially a soup of undefined or differentiated sensory information. As those patterns emerge from the sensory soup and our worldview is born.

In order to appreciate our capacity to form inter-relationships, we must appreciate that our experience of life is 360 degrees in every direction ie: it is multi-dimensional. We must be able to take sensory information from any angle or direction and make sense of it. There is no value in us knowing what an apple, for example, is when we are standing up but not know what it is when we are sitting down.

Ischaemic Changes

Ischaemic changes or ischaemia refers to a lack of blood supply and, consequently, oxygen and vital nutrients, getting to the tissues. In the brain these changes are seen as a loss of areas of the brain, usually on the outside or the cortex of the brain. Such changes can be caused by damage to the blood vessels, such as fatty deposits or atheroma, collecting on the artery linings. Some of these changes may also be caused by tiny clots or atheroma traveling through the blood stream, and lodging in the capillaries or the very tiny arteries at the end of the arterial part of the blood system. 

Judgement & Planning

Judgement and planning are areas of performance which are entirely dependent upon our capacity to form  inter-relationships. If our capacity to form inter-relationships is limited, we will not be able to process all of the sensory information that is available to us. Consequently, there will be gaps in what we are perceiving and, because our task performance is generated on the basis of what is perceived, that same information will be missing when we attempt to do anything at all.

Immediately, it should become apparent that issues in forming inter-relationships will result in difficulties in judgement and planning; we simply do not have all of the necessary information to make relative comparisons (judgments) or to anticipate outcomes (necessary in planning.)

Issues with judgement and planning are often a functional indicators of a visual perceptual deficit.


Learning is a term you will find I seldom use. It is a highly intellectualised term, and it cannot be defined in functional terms ie: 'how do we do that,' consequently, it is of no use to me. Despite the limitations of the word, education has tacked it on to just about everything they could think of, even calling children 'learners.' While these terms may sound really great, they greatly inhibit any discussions we may have, about what a child is actually struggling with - just try clarifying what 'struggling with their learning' actually means.

Fundamentally, learning has more do with dog training than it does a child’s performance at school. It refers to the behaviours a child exhibits, which are then judged to be 'good' or 'bad,' without actually ever really understanding why a child is struggling in the first instance. While I am sure life would be so much easier for all concerned if we could reward a child out of their struggle; the reality is that the whole approach is rather asinine and places an incredibly burden of responsibility on the kids.

So many of the behavioural practices used with kids who struggle, don't ever take into account the fact that behaviour is our primary form of communication (especially in children), and not ever understanding what their behaviour is telling us about their functional performance, is such a terrible travesty. We may as well be telling them to shut up and that we are not interested in the realities of their struggle. It's really no wonder why I find so many kids are so willing to engage in The Visual Perceptual Therapy and convey that at long last someone understands why they are struggling and can help them.

My focus remains on task performance ie: what a child is actually doing that gives us concern. Most parents immediately relax when they hear that I am only interested in their observations, what they know about their child, what their concerns are, and I am not interested in the fancy contemporary terms, which typically prove to be so empty and devoid of any meaning. None of this has to be complicated or difficult, so let’s keep it as simple as we can.

Learning Disabilities

The term ‘learning disability' is a great example of what happens when people attempt to understand  functional deficits from a non-functional perspective.

In all of the years I have been working with kids, I have yet to meet one who has a 'learning disability'. If they did, I doubt I could achieve the outcomes I do.

We need to clearly understand that education is not the system that should be making any determination about a child’s capacity to perform. The lack of a clinical background and a basic understanding of  functional performance, means that education is highly likely to go off into the wilderness, reinvent the wheel, come back with a square model and sell us that as the superior model; and this is exactly what they have done in so many ways.

Kids who struggle have a functional deficit and that is all about their capacity to perform those tasks being asked of them. Sadly, this is typically not taken into account in kids who struggle and, nor do they get access to a therapy that will resolve that struggle. Instead they get labelled as ‘learning differently’ and made to repeatedly practice the very things they have already demonstrated they cannot actually do. That alone has a huge negative psychological and emotional impact on these kids.


I don’t know if you have noticed, but these days we have about 12 different types of ‘memory’ we supposedly utilise. However, despite all of the work that has gone into identifying these different types of memory, no one can tell us how they work.

Back when I was a new graduate, memory deficits were one of my greatest frustrations. It quickly became apparent that if a person did not get their memory back on their own, there was little anyone could do for them. I refused to play silly memory games with them and it always struck me as ironic, to advise my clients to remember to use a daily diary to help them remember things.

It wasn’t long after I fell down the rabbit hole of visual perceptual performance that I realised that memory was just an appearance going on, on the surface of the pond. I realised that if someone was going to ‘forget’ something, it was always the peripheral aspect of the task. It then became apparent that nothing was actually being ‘forgotten’ at all, it was a matter that the person’s capacity to process and integrate sensory information was diminished because something has damaged the structure of the brain. This led to the understanding that once a person’s capacity to deal with the volume of sensory information contained within everyday life was exceeded, their performance always declined and that this was occurring because sensory information was being left out of their process.

Basically this is what happens:
  • We exist in a sensory soup of information that we have to make sense of, if we are going to act in or on the world.
  • If we do not possess the capacity to deal with everyday volumes of sensory information, information is going to be left out of what is processed and integrated.
  • Information left out is always peripheral to the central theme or task
  • It is this information that is left out ie: not integrated, that appears to be forgotten.
  • Therefore, memory issues are not actually memory issues at all; they are an indicator of a problem with integration.
If we correct this issue and give the client the means of accounting for all information available to them, their ‘memory issues’ resolve. This happens very quickly and it’s not uncommon for it to happen in our first therapy session.

Motor Performance

Motor performance, motor function and physiological performance (in the areas of human performance) are the all referring to the exact same thing.

Motor performance refers to physical movement and what it is comprised of ie: range of motion, strength, muscle toneco-ordination, dexterity, balance, etc. However, as soon as we start talking about things such as muscle tone and balance, etc, we need to acknowledge that, again, the lines are beginning to blur and we are also referencing other areas of human performance, which have an influence on motor function. In this instance, we are referencing areas of neurological performance.

Movement, Rhythm and Co-ordination

Movement, Rhythm and Co-ordination are all a reflection of functional performance. Functional performance is always harmonious and fluid. By comparison, dysfunction is always chaotic and erratic.

One of the things we see as visual perceptual deficits increase in severity is an increase in chaos and diminished performance. However, we also see an increasing move toward controlling environments and situations and a loss of subtle levels of performance. Some of the things we may see include:
  • Rigid or robotic modes of performance where there is a distinct absence of fluidity and harmony.
  • Performing tasks in a step-by-step mode. We refer to this a conceptual task performance because it involves thinking our way through a task because so much information is missing that relinquishing our control will always mean failure to perform.
  • Lack of a sense of humour or understanding of innuendo and inference. These are all indicative of a loss of subtle information or the capacity to including it in performance.
  • Asking strange questions or always having a peculiar understanding or approach to situations and issues. These issues are always indicative of the person approaching situations in unusual ways. Often we can be struck by how bizarre or out of kilter the person’s perspective actually is.
One of the natural outcomes we see from the Visual Perceptual Therapy is that harmony, rhythm and co-ordination are naturally restored. We don’t have to do anything special, just give the client the capacity to make sense of the world by increasing their capacity to process and integrate sensory information. When we do this, the rest just naturally takes care of itself.

Muscle Tone

Muscle tone refers to the contractile function of muscles, and is something that is controlled by the brain.

When the brain suffers damage, it can affect muscle tone in two ways:
  • The muscles either become flaccid and there is a limitation or absence of motor function.
  • The muscles become hypertonic ie: have increased tone, meaning they are in a constant state of contraction.
In my experience, we never lose any integrated performance we previously had gained, no matter how devastating the stroke or brain injury. What has been damaged is the interface between what has been integrated (is experientially known) and the ability of the body to enact this. That interface is the brain. The idea that our capacity to perform such tasks is entirely within the realm of the brain is absolutely ludicrous. When I work with people who have lost the function in an arm or leg, their ability to regain functional movement is directly related to their capacity to get out of their heads and into the necessary experiential states. Attempting to generate functional movement through thinking and effort always only ever produces a dysfunctional range of contraction, which is of little to no use.

My advice is always to become as a Zen master, to relax and let awareness drop out of the head and into the heart and to feel the concepts we use and to allow movement to occur. Invariably movement moves in doing this and people often comment at how shocked they are that they did not generate that movement, it just ‘sorta happened.’

Neurological & Cognitive Based Disorders

Neurological cognitive based disorders encompass a wide range of conditions. Basically, any disorder where there are neurological issues, and associated cognitive deficits, is termed a neurological based disorder. It may also be referred to as a neurological condition.

Neurological Performance

Neurological performance is a term that refers to performance, which is directly attributable to the function and performance of the brain. The use of this term typically excludes cognitive performance, which is usually referred to in conjunction to neurological performance ie: neurological and cognitive performance. Most indicators of neurological performance are physical ie: movement and its various qualities.


Neuroplasticity is the ability the brain has to be modified and have its structures changed. Interestingly, this has often been promoted as the brain's ability to change itself, but understanding visual perceptual performance soon has us realising that the brain only changes because of how it is being acted upon, and that conscious awareness has a huge role to play in this.

The work I have done, with people who have acquired neurological cognitive based disorders, has consistently demonstrated that whatever information we have ever integrated is never lost, and that our integrated task performance is also never lost. What happens, when the brain is damaged, is that the interface between integrated task performance and the actions generated by the body has been damaged. That interface is the brain, and it would be a mistake to assume that it is the repository for all of our skills and abilities, because it is really only the means of manifesting our actions.

We can, however, utilise what we know about integrated task performance to allow a person to generate movement again, and to do so very quickly. The secret to doing this is found within understanding that everything we do arises from the exact same place and requires the exact same foundational skills, abilities and processes in order to perform it. Initially, we do need to rebuild those foundational skills, abilities and processes but, once we have done this, we can often have people generating functional movement with little to no effort. If they continue to apply the same principals to everything they do, they quickly regain supposedly lost function.

Pattern Recognition and Construction

Pattern recognition and construction is at the core of our capacity to perform any and all tasks and, although it is entirely dependent upon our capacity to form inter-relationships, it is an area of function that has to be considered as a specific area of identified performance. Within visual perceptual performance, all areas of performance overlap and have considerable influence on one another, hence, we cannot speak about one area without referring to other; nor can we be insular in our focus on any area of performance.

When we form inter-relationships between pieces of sensory information, patterns naturally coalesce and become identifiable objects, which we then tend to name. However, in order to be fully functional, it is necessary to be able to A.) Recognise patterns in anything we are perceiving and, B.) Construct patterns on the basis of what is being perceived. Fundamentally, task performance occurs on the basis of what has been perceived, and it is for this reason that we can observe someone’s performance and obtain a very good idea of what has gone wrong within their perceptual performance. We utilise functional indicators of visual perceptual performance to do this.

Once a client’s capacity to form inter-relationships has been addressed, the Visual Perceptual Therapy takes them on an ever demanding journey of applying those skills and abilities to tasks, which contain ever increasing volumes of sensory information. It is this ability to deal with high volumes of sensory information, without going into sensory overload, which allows our performance to be refined.

Pattern recognition and construction can only be considered to be fully functional, when the client can recognise and construct patterns in any context, and do so without hesitation.

Perceptual Performance

Perceptual performance covers all areas of perception ie: visual, auditory (hearing), olfactory (smell), taste, touch, pressure, pain, contraction of muscles and other bodily sensations associated, sexual desire, psychological and emotional responses. However, it includes two separate and distinct, and yet interwoven areas of performance - the processing of sensory information on a physiological level and the integration of sensory information.

Basically, the structure and function of the brain determines how much sensory information we can process in any moment. We can liken this to electrical wiring where, when the system becomes overloaded, it burns out. While the human system doesn’t tend to catch fire and burn, sensory overload is a categorical consequence of a limited neurological capacity and, consequential, inability to deal with the volumes of sensory information found in everyday experiences.

While integration does have an intimate relationship to sensory processing, but it also takes us into a whole new level of performance. When our capacity to integrate sensory information is fully functional, we are able to deal with vast volumes of sensory information and generate instantaneous, spontaneous, effortless, harmonious, effortless responses to any and all situations. However, if sensory processing is dysfunctional our integrated task performance will also be dysfunctional and will demonstrate that sensory information is missing from what is being perceived. This, in turn, influences the task performance we generate, simply because all task performance is generated on the basis of what has been perceived. Whatever is missing from within our perceptual performance, will also be missing from within our task performance.

Physiological Performance

Physiological performance relates to the physical performance of the body - movement, strength, range of motion, etc.

Priorities in Perceptual Performance

Perceptual performance refers to the collective whole of all perception and, within this, exist various priorities. Technically most priorities relate to the early childhood developmental sequence, although any neurological incident, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury, for example, does tend to drop people out of the priority of visual perceptual performance.

Perceptual performance exists as a multi-facetted, multi-dimensional fluid dynamic. Essentially we need to be able to approach an object, task or situation from any direction perspective and still know what it is and understand it and be able to respond to it. In order to do this, we have to be able to receive information from any sensory experience and relate it to all other sensory information, especially that which has already been integrated.

Here's another way of looking at this. We know what ‘apple’ is from any number of visual representations but also from how it sounds when we bite into it, how it tastes, smells and feels; and we are also able to recognise different aspects of ‘apple’ eg: apple skin, apple seed, apple core. We are also able to recognise it in other forms – apple sauce, apple juice, apple shampoos, apple computers and iPods, etc. We also know that an apple is fruit and how it is different from other fruit. We can only do this because of the multitude of avenues from which we have experienced ‘apple.’

We are able to do this, to recognise objects, tasks and situations from a multitude of different perspectives, because our perceptual development rotated through various priorities in early childhood. A priority in perceptual performance is where all perception is occurring relative to one specific area of perceptual performance. We do not stop perceiving or developing our capacities in any area of perceptual performance, it is just occurring in relationship with the area that has the priority in the moment.

The generally observable progression in perceptual priorities is this:
  • Auditory: where new born babies are responding primarily to sound
  • Physiologically based perceptions: where the motivation shifts at around 3-3½ months of age into getting to what we are seeing and hearing.
  • Visual perceptual performance: when at 3-3½ years of age, a child must step into the priority of visual perceptual performance, in order to refine their performance to the degree necessary to perform those highly refined and sophisticated educational tasks.
The reality is that most, if not all, of the tasks kids struggle with, are the result of this failure to step into that last priority. If we provide them with the means of doing this, these struggles rapidly resolve.

It’s also important to know that the popular myth that we all ‘learn’ in different ways and that we are either a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learner is actually a misinterpretation of these priorities. When kids are supposedly demonstrating that they are an auditory or kinaesthetic ‘learner,’ the reality is that they actually have a developmental delay, arising from their failure to progress through these various priorities. It’s important you understand this because everything education tends to do for these kids keeps them in that developmental delay, rather than moving them out of it.

Problem Solving & Decision Making

Problem solving and decision making are incredibly important areas of functional performance and they are also massively influenced by visual perceptual deficits.

A visual perceptual deficit essentially means that information is missing from whatever a person is doing. Consequently, whatever decisions are made, or how a problem is solved, is done so on the basis of not having all necessary information to produce good outcomes or results. This not only tends to produce poor outcomes, it also has considerable psychological and emotional impact, where the person ultimately will not trust their abilities in these areas. Their psychological and emotional responses will only ever restrict their sphere of activity, even further. Their world gets smaller and often they are increasingly less likely to take risks and get out and engage or explore. A person’s repeated experiences of failure are never helpful.

Having crucial information missing from within perceptual performance also means that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to predict outcomes. Consequently we see trial and error being the main form of problem solving and decision making, especially in children.  Sadly, our failure to understand this often leads to mistaken ideas that we can punish or train a child out of their ‘bad behaviour,’ when the reality is they are always doing the best that they possibly can.

The other way in which visual perceptual deficit impacts on problem solving and decision making is via the role sensory overload has to play.

Sensory overload is a categorical result of a visual perceptual deficit, meaning that anyone who has a visual perceptual deficit is in some degree of sensory overload. When we are in sensory overload we are always attracted to anything with a high degree of sensory loading; but, in our task performance, we will tend to avoid areas of high sensory loading. This means that any problem solving and decision making will occur, also with information also being left out, because it was too much for them to deal with.
Problem solving and decision making are great functional indicators of visual perceptual performance.

Psychological & Emotional Impact

The consequences of not providing the appropriate interventions for visual perceptual deficits can be significant, especially when it comes to kids.

Most superficial practices have the client practicing what they have already demonstrated they cannot actually do. I don’t know where this idea came from, but it really is quite ludicrous. Obviously, if a person cannot do something, they cannot do it and no amount of practice is actually going to change this; especially when that intervention is being provided by someone with a non-clinical, non-functionally based background. However, in saying this, I do realise that it wasn’t until I had my epiphany that I realised that the whole therapy world was doing exactly this, because it didn’t know any better. But, it wasn’t until I began to look at education, and what it was doing, that the enormity of what was going on with kids who struggle, actually struck me.

I often ask adults how long they would stay in a job they didn’t understand, could not do and did not enjoy. They typically tell me, “Not long,” with such responses indicating the choices adults have. However, when it comes to kids in school, they are there for 10 years or more, in the exact same position, except they are powerless to walk away.

Over the years, I have worked with many kids who clearly demonstrate the consequences, of being caught up in a system which just doesn't understand the nature of these struggles, while persisting in attempting to teach them, regardless. On top of this I have heard some of the most horrendous judgments being made about these kids and their families, and of some truly atrocious things that have been done to them, which can only be called abusive. Fundamentally, I find the educational system is not actually an appropriate system to be leading the way with kids who struggle; however, you will always find that I tend to have enormous empathy for teachers who have been scapegoated in the most profound ways, by the very system they work for.

The bottom line is this: we first have to determine the actual level a person is performing at, correct the cause of their struggle and then let them loose in whatever else they need to be doing. And, education needs to change in some very profound ways, before it can ever be considered to be operating in the children’s best interest. Providing the appropriate therapy, which actually addresses the cause of the struggle, must come first.

Psychological Performance

Psychological performance refers to our mental state; however, I tend to speak about psychological and emotional states together, because they have such an intimate relationship to one another.

Range of Motion

Range of motion refers to the degree to which our joints are mobile.

Refined Task Performance

Refined task performance refers to performance which requires a high degree of honing of skills, abilities and processes, or a high level of competent performance, in order to perform them. Task performance is always refined relative to visual perceptual performance; consequently, any diminishment in our task performance is always indicative of a visual perceptual deficit. Such deficits always tell us that the person is not operating from the priority of visual perceptual performance and the only way to correct this is with a specific therapy, The Visual Perceptual Therapy.

As our task performance becomes increasing refined, we are also begin operating on an ever increasingly subtle level of performance. We are able to see and experience life with an increasing depth of awareness. One consequence of refined task performance is an expansive worldview in which we understand the totality of our life experience in a complete and profound way.

Sensory Information

Sensory information refers to the basic building blocks our world is comprised of. Fundamentally, we cannot receive information in no other way, except through our senses and we cannot make sense of it in any other way than via perception.

Sensory Integration

Integration refers to the integration of sensory information and it follows on from the processing of sensory information. Integration, by its nature, involves sensory information coalescing into patterns of information. This occurs because we naturally form inter-relationships between pieces of sensory information. For example, the young child forms an integrated pattern of ‘Mum,’ comprised of what she looks like, sounds like, feels like, tastes, like, smells like, etc. Inherent in this process is what ‘Mum’ is not and this forms the basis of discriminative or relative reasoning. I often say that a tree may be apparent because of what it is comprised of but the background it exists against also defines the tree.

When information is integrated, it is known and this takes us into the realm of experiential states, which is beyond mind and its beliefs and concepts. In this place, we are aware (either consciously or unconsciously) of what is within our experience and we do not need to think about it to know it, it just is.

The ability to form inter-relationships is crucial for integration to occur. When this capacity is broken or damaged, information is left out of our worldview and, because any action we take in and on the world, occurs on the basis of what is perceived, information left out of perception means that it is also left out of our task performance. Consequently, any person’s task performance will contain functional indicators of visual perceptual performance, which are pointers that indicate to us, something of what has gone wrong within that person’s perceptual performance.

The natural consequence of the formation of inter-relationships is that patterns of information naturally coalesce and come together. Our worldview is only comprised of such patterns; from the objects around us to the actions we perform to the behaviours we demonstrate.

Read more on integrated task performance here

Sensory Loading

Sensory loading refers to how many demands we experience from sensory information contained within our immediate environment. Generally, as our environment becomes busier, noisier, or demands more from us, the sensory loading is increasing. However, this loading does not just come from the information we receive through our five senses, it comes from absolutely everything we experience, including our emotions.

We all have a point when our capacity to deal with the sensory loading within our situation is exceeded. When this happens we go into sensory overload. For people with a neurological cognitive based disorder, this sensory overload occurs at a much earlier point than it does for someone who is fully functional. As soon as we go into sensory overload, our performance will begin to taper off and decline.

Sensory Overload

Sensory overload is the one guaranteed consequence of a visual perceptual deficit, or a sensory processing disorder - both terms mean the same thing.

Sensory overload occurs when our capacity to deal with the volume of sensory information contained within our experience is exceeded. If we think of a funnel and pouring in more water than the funnel can cope with, we know that the water will overflow the sides of the funnel.

In visual perceptual terms, sensory overload is what happens when we cannot process and integrate sensory information and make sense of it. There are always neurological reasons for this occurring, where pathways within the brain either have not formed or have been damaged by something. This damage reduces the actual physiological capacity of the brain to accept, receive or allow sensory information to pass through it.

Before sensory information is processed, it is only ever exists as random pieces of information. Through processing and integration (perception) inter-relationships are formed between individual pieces of sensory information, allowing patterns of information to coalesce and, it is only when this happens that we are able to make sense of the sensory soup of which our life experience is comprised. We when cannot process and/or integrate sensory information, we cannot make sense of it, and it remains in our system as undifferentiated sensory noise. It may help to think of an orchestra made up of people who do not know how to play musical instruments. What they will produce is termed a cacophony or disharmonious noise.

Sensory overload can be an extremely unpleasant experience and it can result of some interesting behaviours. Most of the signs of autism can be directly attributed to sensory overload, where the sensory loading the person is being exposed to is often far more than is realised. If we consider the amount of sensory information contained in a person’s face and their expressions, we should not wonder that people on the autism spectrum will avoid looking at people in the face.

Sensory overload can also result in people becoming controlling. What they are actually attempting to do is control the amount of sensory loading they are exposed to. They can do this by arranging and organising their environment in certain ways – kids may group their toys by colour, for example; but really the numbers of ways in which control can be exerted are probably limitless. I have even seen people controlling conversations and asking, what seem to be, bizarre questions, because they need to receive information in a certain order or way, in order to understand it. Any attempt to arrange or structure any environment or the things in it, need to be seen as a potential indicator of sensory overload.

Sensory overload impacts on so many areas of life: problem solving, decision making, task performance, emotional meltdowns, head banging, staring at bright lights or rapidly moving objects, eating (I’ve seen many an elderly person starving to death in noisy dining rooms), the list is probably endless and, when parents speak to me about their child, there is always something the child is doing that is telling us they are in sensory overload.

While people are generally becoming more aware of sensory overload, the cause of it and the means of resolving it still seem far from most people’s awareness. In truth, sensory overload is relatively easy to correct in so many situations and ideas that we need to manage it are just a reflection of the widespread lack of understanding.

Social Performance

Social performance refers to what we are able to observe in and around a person’s social engagement and what it tells us about their underlying visual perceptual performance.

Sensory Processing

Sensory processing refers to what happens to sensory information within the brain.

Essentially this is a physiological process whereby sensory information enters the brain and is related to other sensory information collected in other areas of the brain, usually from other senses. However, having looked at the relationship of sensory processing to sensory integration, integration affords us a deeply experiential understanding of how we come to know what something is and how to respond to it. Integration takes us beyond the bounds of mind, our interpretation of our experiences, and what we think about anything and everything in life. It is only when experiential knowing is understood to occur spontaneously, instantaneously, accurately, effortlessly and without thought; in fact, it is only when it is understood that such things are happening in spite of what we may wish, that we can be said to be truly grasping the profundity of visual perceptual performance. And once we have seen beyond the superficial contemporary view, we begin to see that what is going on in the brain is happening entirely because of what is happening on the level of integration. It is the integration of sensory information into patterns, which causes the structures of the brain to change. We no longer have to deal with so many individual pieces of sensory information, because once it is integrated it is known and known in a complete or whole way. The brain then responds to these patterns, and as those patterns become increasingly refined, so to do the structures of the brain relating to them.

While the brain may still be receiving vast amounts of sensory information, I am inclined to say that it is only when the context of that sensory information is not understood, or we have refined our capacity to make use of it, that changes are made to what is integrated. I no longer see what is going on in the brain to be the defining process, it is more about awareness and what happens when awareness becomes increasingly conscious. However, that is a whole new and different topic beyond the scope of this tiny segment. So, let’s just stick with sensory processing being about what is happening in the brain and that that is determined by integrated performance.

Social Skills and Play

Social skills and play are areas of performance, which are often seen to only apply to children; however, these areas of performance are applicable to everyone.

How we interact socially ie: our social competency and what we do to have fun provide tremendous insight into our overall performance. There is no doubt about it, visual perceptual deficits have tremendous impact on both of these areas. For example, any immaturity a person displays typically points to a developmental delay, regardless of how old they are, and that immaturity can show up in our social interactions, what we do for fun and how we behave in doing this.

Often visual perceptual deficits result in controlling tendencies, but we do need to understand that not all controlling behaviours indicate the presence of a visual perceptual deficit. However, where sensory overload is significant enough, people will seek to control their environment, thereby limiting their exposure to some of the sensory loading within it.

While certain conditions such as autism and Asperger’s are renowned for issues around social performance and competency, I do want to stress that this is an incredibly limiting way of seeing people who struggle in these areas. Ultimately, our entire capacity to perform in any area of our life arises from the exact same place, and is generated from the exact same skill base. These issues are infinitely treatable and typically respond very well to the Visual Perceptual Therapy, especially if we can see the person when they are younger. However, just because someone has not had the opportunity to receive the therapy as a child, does not mean they won’t benefit by receiving it later on in life.

Sphere of Activity

Sphere of activity refers to how wide or constricted, the level of the client’s engagement and performance is. The more dysfunctional we become the more limited our sphere of activity.


Strength refers to the amount of force our muscles are able to apply.

Symptomatic Interventions

Symptomatic interventions are a pet peeve of mine. They are essentially a superficial approach to someone’s struggle, based on an equally superficial understanding of what is causing that struggle. Typically they involve having people practice what they have already demonstrated they cannot do, under the mistaken idea that this will somehow help. Fundamentally:
If we cannot do something we cannot do it and no amount
of practice is going to change this.

While I can understand the use of symptomatic interventions in some situations eg: education, others should probably know better. Tremendous psychological and emotional harm is done via these practices and, considering our psychological and emotional status is the first thing that will interrupt our task performance, these approaches should be avoided at all cost.

The reality is that the use of symptomatic interventions is a clear statement that the person utilising them does not know what level the client is actually performing at, therefore they have no beginning place and are beginning at an arbitrary point they think is useful. The use of symptomatic interventions is right up there with the use of compensatory techniques, for which there are also always tremendous downsides.

Task Performance

Task performance refers to the performance of a task ie: what is the person doing and how are they doing this.

I will go out of my way to use unhelpful terms such as ‘learning;’ instead, we will talk about a person’s task performance. This means that anyone who is with consulting me has the opportunity to talk about what they are observing and any concerns they have, and do so in their own words.

You will also find that I have a natural aversion to psychological testing. I find the terms used in these tests never tell us what the child is actually doing and why it is concerning. It is also extremely limiting when parents want to use the terms found in these assessments to describe their child's performance, simply because they don't describe anything at all on a practical level. It is things such as these tests, and the many highly intellectualised terms found within education, which make it very hard for parents to have a practical conversation with anyone, around what has gone wrong for their child. When I add to all of this, the reality of that these tests are typically used to put the responsibility of education failing to help these kids, back onto the kids ie: they have these issues and that is why they aren't doing well in school, I tend to be very inclined to tell parents to save their money and get their child to see a therapist who understands these conditions and can effectively treat them.

Task performance allows us to actually have a conversation about someone who is struggling, in meaningful terms, minus the complications.

When looking anyone's functionality in visual perceptual performance, we need to consider two modes to task performance

Conceptual Task Performance

While we all utilise conceptual task performance, in order to be considered fully functional, we need to be able to step into integrated task performance as our primary mode of performance.

Conceptual task performance is, essentially, a step-by-step mode of task performance. We use it to do things such as balance our cheque book (if we still have one), or in developing the capacity to perform complex or multiple demand tasks. Learning to drive a car is a great example because it also demonstrates how fractured and incomplete this mode of task performance actually is. It is only when the individual aspects of the task begin to coalesce into the composite whole, - the point at which we are stepping into integrated task performance – that our performance becomes smooth, harmonious, spontaneous, instantaneous, effortless and without thought.

When someone is stuck in conceptual task performance, they are performing tasks by rote, where each individual step within the task has a limited relationship to any preceding or following steps, and to the task as a whole. Children are routinely and unfortunately trained into the mode of task performance by education. It is a distinctly dysfunctional mode of task performance and, while it may seem the child can at least do something, the reality is they are only doing it because that is required of them, not because they understand what they are doing or why they are doing it.

Functional indicators of conceptual task performance include:
  • Rigid or robotic modes of performance and speech
  • Lack of a sense of humour or ability to understand humour
  • Lack of understanding of inference and innuendo
When conceptual modes of task performance presents are the primary mode of task performance ie: the child is not stepping into integrated task performance, this will only be occurring because the child has a visual perceptual deficit. These deficits result in information being left out of our worldview, and the order in which this information is left out begins with the subtleties in life and expands outward. The essence of our refined task performance is the degree of subtlety, which our perceptual performance has relaxed into. The more subtle our awareness is, the more refined out task performance is. When performance reaches this level, we are talking about profoundly experiential states and they are always beyond mind, concept or thought.

Integrated Task Performance

Integrated task performance is the epitome of refined task performance. Integrated task performance is all about the performance of tasks without the need to think about them; along with the spontaneous, instantaneous, relaxed effortlessness and harmoniousness, which accompanies such task performance.

In order to gain and understanding of integrated task performance, I often ask people to look to their experience of walking and see if they can tell me how they do it. The response a person has to this exercise always tells me a lot about them. They will  either go, Wow, I have no idea how I walk,” or they will jump into their head and begin to give me an intellectual analysis of walking. However, I did not ask how we think we walk; I asked that we look to our experience of walking and see if we know how we are walking.

The reality is that walking is an incredibly complex and demanding task; however, the child who stands and takes their first steps just does not possess the cognitive skills to understand what they are doing, let alone tell us how they are doing it. This alone should tell us something about the role the mind and our cognitive performance does not have in performing such tasks. In fact, if we try thinking our way through walking, we can see what happens to our performance. Most people quickly realise how fractured and chaotic their performance will become in doing this.

Walking is so highly integrated within all of us that we can walk and perform any number of equally highly integrated tasks at the same time, and still give none of this any consideration at all. If we attempt to think our way through walking and attempt to do something such as carry a cup of coffee at the same time, the results will be disastrous. Our mind just does not possess the capacity to perform in the way that is necessary to do such things.

This exercise in thinking our way through a task provides us with the direct experience of conceptual task performance and what most people with a visual perceptual deficit are dealing with in every moment of their day.

The other thing I would like to point out here is our idea of 'memory'. In the absence of an understanding of integrated task performance, someone decided that this was all an function of ‘memory.’ The term ‘muscle memory’ has been coined as a result. Terms such as this, arise from only having a superficial understanding of human performance. The reality is that when something is known on an experiential level, we don’t have to remember anything. It also has nothing to do with mind or cognition.

It has been my continual and ongoing experience that once a level of performance has been integrated it is never lost. I have worked with numerous clients with substantial brain damage from strokes or traumatic brain injury and their knowingness around performance is still there, beautifully intact and just waiting to be tapped into. And, when we do tap into it and understand how it all works, amazing feats are indeed possible. In fact, this understanding is the gateway to understanding how neuroplasticity actually works.

It is also important to know that our capacity to integrate sensory information and to generate integrated task performance is never limited. Any performance we ever generate only ever is a reflection of the structure and function of the brain relative to awareness, which is the seat of integrated performance. Such things may be hard for us to understand, especially if we have never looked at our relationship to our mind and its incessant thinking, and become aware of awareness how this relates to our performance. Fundamentally, I have no difficulty in saying that our consciousness is not confined to our body ie; it is non-local, and it is because of this that it is possible to quickly and effectively assist someone to make profound transformations in their life. If, as therapists, we can create an experiential space for our clients and assist them to step into the experience of task performance, we will get to see first-hand, how this works.

Visual Perceptual Deficit

A visual perceptual deficit is a breakdown in visual perceptual performance leading to a diminished level of task performance.

Fundamentally, the structure and function of the brain is such that it does not allow the person to make sense of the world, simply because it is unable to allow the necessary volume of sensory information to be processed. Information is consequently left out of what is perceived and this, in turn, impacts on the quality of task performance generated.

Visual Perceptual Evaluation

A visual perceptual evaluation is necessary, in order to determine where performance has actually broken down. It is not possible to determine this by observing someone performing everyday tasks. They contain too much information, which obscures how the task is being performed. The tasks I utilise within the evaluation clearly reveal what has gone wrong for the client, and this is so obvious that anyone can see it. One of the most common comments I hear being made is that if someone cannot perform these tasks, it’s no wonder they are struggling with other, more complicated and demanding tasks.

Visual Perceptual Performance

Visual perceptual performance refers to the area of perceptual performance that is associated with vision. However, it is not limited to what we see with our eyes and includes what we see experientially. In fact, our experiential states have far more impact here than what we see with our eyes.

Visual Perceptual Therapy

The Visual Perceptual Therapy is unique. It has arisen from over 20 years of clinical exploration into how human beings are able to perform some truly amazing tasks. The Visual Perceptual Therapy allows us to look deeply into our performance and to understand what we are actually doing at the quantum levels of that performance.

Because we are engaging in performance at such a deep level, The Visual Perceptual Therapy allows us to effect some truly profound changes in a very short period of time. No longer is it necessary to require clients to practice what they have already demonstrated they cannot do. By going to the source, all performance is improved upon.

The Visual Perceptual Therapy is basically making use of an understanding of the quantum levels of functional performance, in order to restore function.

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The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only. It should not to be used as a substitute for professional advice about any person’s specific circumstances, nor should it be used to diagnose or treat any person or condition.

The services described on this site, along with outcomes attained and time frames required to attain them, should not be equated with any other person, service or organisation; nor should it be assumed or understood that the services, therapy or programs outlined on this website are in any way similar to those offered or provided by any other person or organisation.

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© Natoya Rose 2017