Processing Speed: When Efficiency Makes a Difference
November 3, 2014
Slower processing speed can cause frustration for even the brightest kids. They might have a hard time finishing tests, take longer on homework, or have trouble keeping up with class discussions even when they know the answers. Note: This is one of a 10 blog series on learning traits. Read about all 10 learning traits here.
What is Processing Speed?
Processing speed is the rate at which a student can see or hear information, analyze it, and respond. It is also referred to as visual processing, auditory processing, or processing efficiency.
Why is Processing Speed important?
In elementary school, slower processing might only be evident when a student scores much lower than expected on standardized tests. Slower processing might become more obvious in middle or high school, when there is a lot more work. Slow processing can cause problems in schools with rigid schedules and timed tests. Fortunately, plenty of life’s best opportunities are not time-sensitive.
What are signs of slower Processing Speed?
The student might be slow to answer, even when he knows the answer. The student might take longer than expected to hand in class assignments or finish homework relative to his knowledge and capabilities. Slow processing speed might go unnoticed in lower grades, since all kids are more prone to daydreaming or losing focus. The first clear sign might be a student whose class scores are fine but standardized test scores are much lower. Or a student who struggles to complete assignments.
How do I know if my student needs help with Processing Speed?
If you suspect your child is struggling with processing speed you should discuss your concerns with a school counselor or your pediatrician. Be aware that slow processing speed could be confused with anxiety, attention, working memory or other core skills, so make sure they use an objective test, not just observation. If you are uncomfortable sharing your concerns, consider a processing speed test at home. You can review the results and decide if you want to share them.
How can I support slower Processing Speed?
Students with slow processing speed might qualify for extra time for schoolwork and standardized tests. Even if they don’t qualify for school services or accommodations, they can ask teachers for extra time or sit near the front of the room where it is easier to listen and pay attention. Help them budget time and energy by recognizing which tasks require speed and when to relax and take the time they need.
Check out our processing speed test! We also evaluate other core skills like attention and working memory to clearly identify the root cause of any difficulties.