It has been reported (article here) that many individuals that have been diagnosed with ADHD have the comorbid condition of slow processing speed.
What is processing speed? It is the amount of time necessary to take in information, decide what to do with it, and then respond or act upon that decision. The incoming information can be verbal, visual or motor. A more simplified definition is it’s the amount of work (intellectual) that can be done in a certain amount of time.
What the research arm of Metro Learning Solutions (LearningRx) has found, based on the testing profiles of over 100,000 clients over 10+years, is that slow processing speed doesn’t usually happen in isolation. Weak memory, either working or long-term (or both) is also an issue for the vast majority of clients who have sought testing and interventions from us.
Our culture certainly places high value on doing things quickly, so it is problematic for the individual who needs more time to process information. Plus, when combined with weak memory, the ability to remember the steps to understand the incoming information often vanishes before the nervous system allows you to respond, thus exacerbating the probability of failure.
There are two ways to respond to an individual with slow processing. The first way is to change your child’s environment.
- At School:
- Allow more time to complete the task
- Allow use of technology (dictation software, text-to-speech software, time management apps)
- Allow breaks between academic tasks
- For longer instructions or assignments, have the steps broken down into manageable chunks.
- Explicitly teach telling time and time management.
- Provide alternatives or supports when note taking is required.
- At Home:
- Work with the school to determine what is the proper amount of homework for your child. Reach an agreement with your child’s school that keeping to that amount of time may mean that some homework won’t get done. (Also encourage the school to prioritize the importance of any work sent home so you do the most important parts of the assignments.)
- Routines are of utmost importance. Try to do the same thing at the same time every day (Example: Come home , get a snack, eat your snack while getting your work organized, take a 30 minute break, then do 30 minutes of homework.)
- Keep any supplies your child may need in the same place, within easy reach.
- Write down your child’s chore list
- Brainstorm with them about how long they think it should take (time management!) and see if they are close.
- Any verbal directions should be given one or two steps at a time.
Another way to address slow processing speed is to enroll your child in a cognitive development program such as the one offered by Metro Learning Solutions.
Why should you consider enrolling your child in a cognitive development program? As you can see by the results compiled by our parent company, LearningRx, in their Client Outcomes and Research Results publication, the graph on page 18 shows that, on average, our clients gained 19 percentile points in processing speed, and an average age equivalent gain of 2 years. This gain is typically seen in about 6 months of training.