Improve Grades of Those with Slow Processing Speed

Help Your Child with ADHD and Slow Processing Speed at School

A 7 years old boy doing his homework with his mom
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Does this sound familiar?

“My son has ADD without the hyperactivity. He is becoming overwhelmed with school. The teacher says he has slow processing speed and he takes much longer than the other students to complete his written assignments. How can we help him with school work?”

It isn’t at all uncommon for kids with ADHD to take somewhat longer to complete tasks especially when the assignment is cognitively challenging.

This doesn’t have anything to do with level of intelligence, rather it may have to do with processing speed -- the speed at which the student processes and responds to information.

Written expression can also be quite a challenge for a student with ADHD, due to several possible factors. These may include slow processing speed; problems retrieving information in a timely fashion because of working memory impairments; difficulty organizing thoughts and getting them down on paper; and challenges with handwriting due to poor fine motor coordination.

As a result, a student may take a lot longer than most classmates to get work completed and may produce less work overall as compared to his classmates. It could also be that your child is struggling to keep his focus and concentration at a level where he can successfully complete work.

Your child's difficulty may be caused by a number of learning issues, so be sure to talk with the teacher to sort out where the breakdown is occurring.

Below are some general classroom modifications that may also help:

  1. Ask the teacher to shorten or reduce the number of written assignments
  2. Allow for extended time on assignments and tests
  3. If handwriting is slow and labored and seems to be related to cursive writing only, allow student to print
  4. Allow use of computer
  1. If helpful, allow student the opportunity to give oral reports or make a project illustrating work in place of a written report
  2. Make sure instructions and directions for written assignments are brief; repeat them for student as needed
  3. Provide written instructions that are concise and clear
  4. Schedule more difficult in-class written assignments earlier in the day
  5. Break down or divide written assignments into smaller, more manageable segments
  6. Increase level of adult supervision to monitor progress regularly on each step of the assignment
  7. Help student take “energy breaks” while working on assignments, allowing student to get up and move around and re-energize and then get back to work

In addition, be sure to talk openly with your child about feeling overwhelmed at school. Include him in the strategizing and planning process about ways to make schoolwork more manageable. You may also want to share your concerns with your son's doctor.

Additional Reading: Executive Function...What Is It Anyway?

Source:

Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, M.S., Teaching Teens with ADD, ADHD, & Executive Function Deficits (Second Edition). Woodbine House 2011.

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