Slow Processing Speed and Its Effect on Learning
27 May 2019
Slow processing speed affects many students around the world
There are many different learning styles that people exhibit based on how their individual minds work. Some are visual, preferring to read passages, while some others are auditory and better ascertain new information through sounds. Some students complete homework and tests quickly, while others take much longer than the expected time and use the full duration for tests—and then some. Often, the latter group deals with slow processing speed, something that can influence nearly every aspect of their lives.
What is slow processing speed?
In his article, “Understanding, Diagnosing, and Coping with Slow Processing Speed”, author Steven Butnik explains that slow processing speed is when someone requires extra time to accomplish tasks compared to the average person. He emphasizes that slow processing speed is not a learning disorder, something that is echoed by scholars throughout the field.
Slow processing speed is not a learning disability in and of itself, but is many times present in people with ADHD and other disabilities. Consequently, it is frequently misidentified as a disorder by teachers or even parents. However, one can have slow processing speed and not have difficulty learning information. In fact, there are many students with slow processing who are highly intelligent and considered to be gifted. These “twice-exceptional” students are often frustrated because they are able to figure out complicated and difficult subject matters but take an increased amount of time to process and formulate their thoughts.
How can I help a student with slow processing speed?
Remember first and foremost that slow processing speed is often extremely frustrating for the individual, more so than the people around him or her. Constantly telling them to hurry up is rarely helpful. There are many ways to helpincluding:
- Use a timer for tasks that take much longer than they should. Letting them know how long they’ve spent can often help them be better with time awareness.
- Limit distractions when possible. For example, covering up all questions on a homework assignment except the current one they are working on can aid in focus.
- Allow for more time for tasks when possible. This takes some of the stress away and can even reduce the amount of time they require.
Try an after-school tutor and let them know about your concerns
Because time is a primary factor for students with slow processing speed, increasing the amount of time available can offer a great boost to their learning skills. One way to do this is to use a qualified tutoring service with tutors who are aware of slow processing speed and have experience managing and engaging students who have it. By giving these students a little bit of extra time with someone who can focus on them alone, many are able to gain more confidence in their abilities and become better learners overall.