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Perception occurs when the human body interprets the signals it receives from the outside environment. In essence, any of the major senses — seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, or smelling — are filtered through perception. When an individual experiences difficulties in interpreting any type of sensory input because of nervous system abnormalities, drugs, or other factors, perception disorders — often known broadly as sensory processing disorders — result. Particular perception problems include visual perception disorders and auditory perception disorders such as viewing objects in the wrong order or being unable to distinguish sounds, respectively. Losing sensitivity to touch, taste, or smell are also potential perception problems.
Visual perception problems impact the way an individual interprets stimuli targeted at the eyes. One common problem occurs in the organization or positioning of objects. Many individuals, for example, reverse letters when reading a word while others might confuse directions and perceive an object to be on the left when it is actually on the right. Similar difficulties might arise in judging the distance between two or more objects or in coordinating movements in response to visual stimuli. Some individuals even have trouble recognizing objects by usual characteristics like shape or size.
Auditory perception problems, on the other hand, tend to hinder interpretation of stimuli gathered from the ear. As such, sounds are perceived abnormally. An individual might have trouble sorting out both subtle and major differences in sounds, depending on the severity of the disability. The amplification of sounds could be misinterpreted as well, leading to background sounds overwhelming closer sounds or sounds that are unusually accelerated or slowed. In addition, sounds in words may be perceived out of sequence or blended together.
The other major senses — taste, touch, and smell — can also be categorized as distinct perceptual disabilities when sensory input and interpretation is hindered. The main manifestation of these specific problems occurs when sensitivity is either enhanced or diminished. In other words, the ability to taste, feel, and smell are unusually sharpened or dulled. In such cases, distinguishing between various stimuli may be severely disturbed or even non-existent.
Perception problems can also be recognized as learning disabilities in many regions, thus entitling the afflicted individual to specialized education. For example, an individual who visually confuses the placement of letters in a word cannot properly record and store the word in the brain. Resulting dyslexia compromises the individual’s ability to read and understand information properly. The key to correcting problems with perception in a structured setting often lies in simplifying stimuli and reducing outside distractions.