What does horse racing have to do with people talking too fast? Nothing really, but I wonder if that’s what it feels like to students with slow processing speed. Race horses fly by in a blur. What would school be like if words flew by you in a blur?
Students with learning challenges sometimes feel like their teacher is talking at breakneck speed. They’re trying hard to listen; they’re looking at the teacher, but somehow, the teacher is already onto the next question when the student has just barely come up with a response to the last one.
When a question is asked, most people automatically understand the question and begin thinking about and formulating their response. Students with language-based learning disabilities often have to process the question as well as the answer. While they are deciphering the sequence of words, grammar, vocabulary, and intention behind the question, someone else has already answered it. When they are ready to respond, their teacher has gone on to the next question and they’ve missed it.
So what does that look like in the classroom?
It looks like a student who isn’t paying attention or isn’t listening.
We once worked with a bright and talkative 12-year old who constantly repeated what someone else had just said in discussions, or asked questions that the teacher had just answered. After the first few weeks in 6th grade, he learned not to participate, because he was always saying the wrong thing – and everyone but him seemed to know it. He just knew the other kids laughed and he was always being told to pay attention.
But attention wasn’t the problem. The problem was, by the time he had processed the question and come up with an answer, the question had been answered and the class had gone on to the next one…and he’d missed it.
I remember testing a high school student who either said “I don’t know” or gave really off-the-wall responses to virtually every test question. Then I realized that he had such slow auditory processing speed that any responses he gave were actually correct answers to previous questions. And that was in a one-to-one setting. I can’t imagine how lost he must have felt in the classroom. His parents and teachers thought he just didn’t try and didn’t care. But of course he had a bad attitude! He had no idea what was going on in real time!
Most learning and attention challenges can be corrected. It takes looking at the underlying root of the issue – like auditory delays and slow processing speed – and developing those critical learning skills through targeted cognitive training. Then the learner is mentally ready and available for academic remediation and more independent, efficient performance at school.
If you or your child is struggling with listening or learning, change is possible!
JOIN US at a Parent Information Night to find out how to break the cycle of learning challenges and struggles in school. Go to www.learningdisability.com for details and information.
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