Slower processing abilities
Do you see a child in your classroom who doesn’t participate in classroom discussion?
Struggles to finish tests in the allotted time?
Has trouble solving simple maths problems in their head?
While there are many possible reasons for these struggles, slow processing speed may be a factor.
What is Processing Speed?
Processing speed is the pace at which you take in information, make sense of it and begin to respond. This information can be visual, such as letters and numbers. It can also be auditory, such as spoken language or it can relate to motor functions such as writing or catching.
Having slow processing speed has nothing to do with how smart kids are—just how fast they can take in and use information. It may take kids who struggle with processing speed a lot longer than other kids to perform tasks, both school-related and in daily life.
It can also impact executive functioning skills. These are the thinking skills that help kids plan, set goals, respond to problems and persist on tasks. Kids who are slow to process information may have trouble getting started on assignments, staying focused and monitoring how well they’re doing.
Processing Speed and learning issues
Slow processing speed isn’t a learning or attention issue on its own. But it can contribute to learning and attention issues like ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and auditory processing disorder.
The affects of slow processing speed in the classroom
Slow processing speed has an impact at home, at school and on other activities like playing sport.
What you may see in the classroom is
- Struggling to finish their homework in expected time frame
- Struggling to listen or take notes when a teacher is speaking
- Hard for them to read and make notes at the same time
- Trouble with completing multi-step maths problems in the allotted time
- Struggling to keep up with conversations
- Trouble doing written projects that require details and complex thoughts
Practical solutions to accommodate for slow processing speed in the classroom.
- Having an empathy for the child’s processing ability and a sense of humour. This will help the child became less anxious about “getting it right”
- Work with parent/caregiver, for example, on homework time limits.
- Allow ample time for completing their school work and help them with their time management (so they are using the extra time wisely).
- Allow for the use of assistive technology
- Provide for multiple breaks from school work during the day to help them stay focused and recharge.
- Have examples of the finished product to help provide them with the big picture of what is required.
- Give explicit starting and ending points for schoolwork assignments, for example, Read Chapter 1 to 3 by Wednesday next week compared with start reading the book before next Wednesday