I have parents say that they were told that their child has poor processing speed; they are often unsure what this means for their child’s learning.
Processing speed can be measured using one of the standardized intelligence tests such as the Wechsler Intelligence Test for Children (WISC-V), which is most commonly used by Australian psychologists. Processing speed relates to your child’s ability to perform simple and repetitive mental tasks quickly and automatically.
Children with poor processing speed in the school setting take much longer than their peers to complete their work. They may also have trouble copying from the board. You may notice that your child struggles to complete their homework in a timely manner. A child with poor processing speed is also likely to have difficulty learning routines and completing tests or assignments in the required time. It is important to recognize, though, that your child’s poor processing speed is related to impaired speed and fluency of processing information rather than a lack of knowledge or understanding of material.
There are many reasons why your child may have this problem; this needs to be addressed in order to assist your child’s academic progress. For instance, vision impairment, poor sleep/nutrition or fine motor skill difficulties that affect handwriting can all affect the speed and fluency of processing information. A child’s emotional state could also negatively affect on their ability to process information quickly.
For example, if your child was highly anxious/perfectionist, lacked motivation to complete tasks or was plagued with inattentive behavior, their ability to complete tasks quickly may be affected. The classroom environment can also influence a child’s processing speed by potential distractions such as noise levels. A child’s poor processing speed may relate to a diagnosed medical condition or a neurodevelopmental disorder such as a Specific Learning Disorder, attention deficit disorder, autism or an underlying physical condition.
It is important to recognize that your child with poor processing speed is not deliberately working in a slow manner; rather, it is likely that either medical or social/environmental factors are negatively affecting their ability to engage in a mental fluent rapid manner.
In the next article, ways to assist your child with processing speed difficulties which affect their academic progress in maths and/or English language will be examined.