A less well known issue for children with dyslexia is that they often work slower than children without dyslexia. Has your child’s school teacher ever said any of the following to you:
‘Tommy takes longer to understand what I have asked him to do than others in the class’
‘ Charlie often has a bit of a blank look and takes some time to get down to the task he has been given’
‘Sophie doesn’t finish her work in class’
‘ Avril never finishes tests in the time allowed’
‘ Ben only writes a few sentences in a 30 minute task’
At home do you notice any of the following:
Your child takes longer to understand what you have asked them to do, even when they are facing you and you have only given 1 or 2 instructions.
A blank look comes over their face when you talk to them ( before they become teenagers!)
They take a lot of time to do their homework or they don’t get much done in 10 – 15 minutes.
When they want to tell you something, they take more time to come up with the words they want to use than your other children.
These are all issues children with a slow processing speed face. The easiest way to think about this is to liken your brain with a computer – the better the chip is in the computer the faster it will find information for you and do the task you ask it to. Some children’s brains work faster than others, they can take in information around them and ‘process it’ to produce the required outcome – whether that is a thought they have, or understanding what they have read or coming up with ideas for something they are writing. A slow processing speed comes as part and parcel of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and ADD/ADHD.
This condition is not well researched or well understood . In tests for Dyslexia, slow processing speed is tested through the rapid naming of letters and objects. Margaret Snowling is a key researcher into Dyslexia, and its causes and effects. In her research she has shown that this problem with rapid naming of letters links to problems with a child’s general problems with phonological skills (knowledge of how letters and sounds relate to each other) rather than an issue with their processing speed. But there is very little research that has been completed on this issue.
Can you remedy a slow processing speed? As I stated there is very little research out there on this but I do use some exercises with students which aim to increase processing speed. The jury is out as to whether these work or not…….
What Can You Take Away From This?
The most important point to take away, especially for primary school age children is that being ‘slower’ may be an important indicator that they have dyslexia. It is quite a hard issue to pick up on but look at the whole picture of your child. Did they initially pick up reading but now they are going backwards or losing ground to others in their class? Are they struggling to complete school work? Are their test results matching up to their teachers expectations? Do they struggle to generate ideas? Do they only write a few sentences at an age when they should be able to write more? Do they struggle to break longer words down into their syllables? Do they have difficulty reading words they haven’t seen before? If you can answer yes to most of these and you’ve recognised your child in the descriptions above then you need to consider that they have dyslexia. Talk to your child’s teacher if you have any concerns.
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