Learning Disabilities and Processing Speed

Learning disabilities and processing speed deficits often go hand-in-hand. Although slower processing speed isn’t a learning and/or attention issue on it’s own, deficits in processing speed can generate problems with learning and with completing daily tasks. It is also important to know that processing speed has nothing to do with how bright a child is, rather it has to do with information processing and how quickly they understand information. And receiving psychological testing for learning disabilities, information processing, and processing speed can be a great way to discover your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

As children grow, their processing speed improves over time. However, a child with a weakness in processing speed at a young age does not typically catch up to same-aged peers’ processing speed. Rather, they make improvements over time.

Even though processing speed is related to all areas of learning, there are three main areas in which processing speed weaknesses impact an individual’s life. These include the ability to:

    1. Process verbal information,

    2. Understand visual information, and

    3. Respond with quick motor speed.

Additionally, children are usually slower in one area than another, rather than slow in all areas of information processing. A child who is a slow reader, may have excellent motor skills and can quickly pick up a sport. In the same way, a teen who struggles with processing oral language may be an excellent writer.

It may be challenging to receive classroom accommodations for slower processing speed. But, if your child’s school is willing to work with you, and/or your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for another issue (e.g., Specific Learning Disability, ADHD) then you may consider speaking with the school about suggestions to support their processing speed. Each child has unique strengths and cognitive patterns and it is important to address this in the classroom setting and at home.

Some school recommendations for learning disabilities and processing speed weaknesses include:

  • Encourage the student to email in their questions or concerns if they cannot think of them during class time
  • In advance, provide students with an outline for the lesson plan of the day to help guide their note taking
  • Show the students the end goal or completed project so they see what is expected of them
  • Reduce repetitive assignments
  • Limit the amount of time spent on homework and allow parents to sign-off on unfinished work
  • Offer extra time on quizzes and tests
  • Allow the student to complete assignments in a quiet space without distractions
  • Purchase color coded highlighters, pens, binders and paper to encourage active listening
  • Allow your child to listen to books on audio rather than reading, or encourage listening while reading
  • Remember that practice does develop processing speed and encourages quicker response time

Contact us today to speak with one of our psychologists for a free consultation on learning disabilities and processing speed. We serve families in San Diego North County, including Carlsbad, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Escondido and surrounding cities.

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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