Information Overload or Filter Failure?

I don’t know about you, but email can be completely overwhelming to me.  Scattered among the truly important things, there must be ten times as many irrelevant items.

Recently, my husband saved me from my inbox by going through and weeding out everything except the things I really needed to pay attention to.  He was appalled by all of the unfiltered, unnecessary stuff cluttering up my inbox and therefore my time.

In the book 59 Seconds, Change Your Life in Under a Minute, Richard Wiseman says, “It’s not information overload, its filter failure.”

When I heard that, I thought about our students who struggle so much to listen and pay attention in school.  They get so overloaded that they shutdown or meltdown.  In most cases, I would say it is more a problem of filter failure than information overload.

Let me give you some examples:

Tony was a 13-year old middle-schooler who said that he could never really get what the teacher was saying because the other noises around him – the air conditioning, feet shuffling, pencils writing, etc. – were screaming in his head at the same time.  He couldn’t filter out the unimportant stimuli and let them fade into the background.

Eleven-year-old Ryan struggled to read because instead of creating a background, the white spaces in between and around words were as prominent as the words themselves.  Nothing was filtered, therefore it took excessive effort to focus on the print.

At 9, Jesse noticed absolutely everything he heard or saw.  He could do his schoolwork, but he was so distracted that he couldn’t get it done.    Jason, also 9, wasn’t distracted by things around him, but his thoughts were so creative and engaging, that a single word heard or read could cause his mind to take a mental vacation.

Lack of ability to filter information can cause smart students to struggle with attention or learning.  It can cause them to feel overloaded and perform well below their potential.

The ability to filter, focus, and organize information relies on strong underlying learning/processing skills.  These are skills that support attention and efficient learning, but are rarely taught because they are not academic skills or school subjects.

However, these skills can be improved.  If we want to permanently change or correct a learning challenge, we must identify the weak underlying processing/learning skills that are not supporting the student well enough and develop them through targeted brain training.  Students with learning challenges, including learning disabilities and dyslexia can become confident, comfortable, independent learners.

If you or your child are struggling with learning or attention challenges and are ready to make a real and permanent change, here’s your next step:

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night.

If you’re feeling alone as a parent trying to help your struggling student, we have a FREE parent support group (P.E.A.C.E.) that’s just for you.

For information and RSVP go to

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