If your child has recently completed an occupational therapy evaluation or if you’re curious about what will be assessed in an upcoming appointment, the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration, or the Beery VMI, is a commonly used measure that may be helpful to familiarize yourself with. This assessment provides us with important information on the development of an individual’s visual and motor abilities. These skills are the backbone for many of your child’s day to day activities. If you notice he avoids or has difficulty with tasks such as cutting, coloring, writing, tying his shoes, or catching a ball, the Beery VMI can help explain why.
The test is broken down into three sections. The first examines how efficiently the visual and motor systems are communicating with one another (the ability referred to as visual motor integration), while the second and third isolate the visual perceptual and the motor control pieces of the puzzle. Identifying exactly where a child’s difficulties lie is key to developing a plan that will increase his participation and confidence in the everyday activities required of him.
Here is a break-down of the three Beery VMI subtests and what information we can glean from the outcomes:
Visual Motor Integration: The first subtest is a sequence of images that an individual is asked to copy from a model, beginning with a simple line and progressing gradually to more complex geometric shapes. This subtest aims to assess how the visual perceptual and fine motor control systems coordinate with one another. In other words, how well does the motor system produce what the visual system is processing?
Visual Perception: In the second subtest, the individual is again presented with a series of progressively complex geometric images. However, in this subtest the examinee is asked only to identify each item’s identical match from a set of similar shapes. This timed subtest provides us with information on how the visual system specifically is perceiving the information it receives.
Motor Coordination: The third and final subtest of the Beery VMI isolates an individual’s fine motor control abilities. Similar to the first two subtests, the Motor Coordination portion begins with a basic line and advances to more challenging forms. The individual is provided with specific directions to trace the interior of each shape, without crossing over the shape’s border. This timed portion of the test allows us to assess an individual’s level of fine motor control.
The Beery VMI is one of the most frequently used assessments by occupational therapists. It provides not only a picture of a child’s strengths and areas of difficulty, but also a baseline for development of these skills. For suggestions on how to help your child develop visual motor integration abilities, check out next week’s blog with a list of activities your child will enjoy!