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How does processing speed affect learning?

Processing Speed

What most parents ask me is,” What does this mean for my child? Why is this important?”

There is now an overload of information given out. Definitions and diagnoses are easy to find, the hard part is figuring out how this affects the everyday life of your child and what you can do to help.

The thing about processing speed is that there are actually two kinds. To understand how it is affecting your child you need to know what is going on with your child.

One type of processing speed is visual processing speed, this is the most common kind referred to. Visual processing speed is how fast your child can look at and process information on a task that does not take any more thinking than noticing the differences or sameness in the objects shown. This type of processing speed issue may be helped by vision therapy, or larger print. Extra time on tests is important so the child has time to correctly “see” the information and not make careless errors due to misreading the information. When children also have difficulty with fine motor skills (writing) this becomes a visual-motor intregration weakness.

Another type of processing speed is cognitive processing speed. This is how long it takes a child to process (take in information, think about it and then give an answer). This type of child also needs extra time on tests, not “see” the information but to “think” about the answer.

While both processing speed types need extra time on tests to enable them perform at their potential, the reason behind the extra time is very different. This means if you are trying to help build the area of weakness, understanding the cause helps determine the best intervention.

Processing Speed

Processing Speed is one of the measures of cognitive efficiency or cognitive proficiency. It involves the ability to automatically and fluently perform relatively easy or over-learned cognitive tasks, especially when high mental efficiency is required. That is, for simple tasks requiring attention and focused concentration. It relates to the ability to process information automatically and therefore speedily, without intentional thinking through.

A student with processing speed needs has difficulty in performing simple cognitive tasks fluently and automatically, especially when mental efficiency in focusing concentration is required.

  1. Students with processing speed needs may take more time to:

  2. recognize simple visual patterns and in visual scanning tasks

  3. take tests that require simple decision making

  4. perform basic arithmetic calculations and in manipulating numbers, since these operations are not automatic for them

  5. perform reasoning tasks under time pressure

  6. make decisions that require understanding of the material presented

  7. read silently for comprehension

  8. copy words or sentences correctly or to formulate and write passages

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