There are many obstacles to student success in school, home and community; some are not in plain sight! In one of her blogs at Understood.org, Psychologist Dr. Ellen Braaten wrote about the impact of our fast-paced world on students who process information at a slower pace. When teachers and parents attempt to push the student to be faster, anger and frustration result on all sides. Adults then mistakenly conclude that the child is not that bright, or worse, lazy.

At Springer School and Center, we say these students are “deliberate.” They think before responding to a question, sometimes to the point of adults wondering if they are daydreaming. Their verbal response is succinct and accurate, but we wonder why it took so long! The student takes more time to complete his work, sometimes being the last one finished. The school environment puts the emphasis on being speedy and finishing fast. Speed drills and timed tests to get students to quickly complete a series of math problem or read a list of words are normal parts of the curriculum.

Slow processing may occur by itself, or it may co-occur with ADHD, dyslexia or other learning disabilities. It may be realized in the motor, visual or verbal realm, or in a combination of several of these. This complexity can result in difficulties that don’t seem to be related to speed. A student who processes slowly may have difficulty taking notes when someone is speaking, copying information from the board, solving math problems in her head, solving multiple-step math problems, or completing written assignments that require complex thought and attention to detail. Parents and teachers can have trouble identifying the cause of the student’s difficulty, and everyone’s frustration can cause increased anxiety in the student.

Dr. Ellen Braaten, Director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be in Cincinnati speaking at an evening program reserved just for parents and guardians: “Parenting Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up” on Monday, March 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Cooper Creek Event Center in Blue Ash. 

Join us that evening to learn how to support your bright child who faces the challenges of a world that moves at break-neck speed. For more information and to reserve a seat for the program, please visit www.Springer-LD.org.

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at mmulcahey@springer-ld.org.


  • Alt
    Sun, 02/25/2018 - 1:19am reply

    This article fits my daughter to a tea. What should I make sure is in her iep?

  • Alt
    Wed, 02/28/2018 - 7:30pm reply

    Hi Ingrid -  if your daughter is on an IEP there may already be supports in place for her.  Discuss your concerns with her IEP team.  Her most recent ETR or evaluation would provide data as to what further supports/accommodations she needs.  For example evidence of challenges in work pace would be apparent in below average scores in reading, writing or math fluency. In that case there might be a reduction in the amount of work that she has to do in addition to extra time for tests.  A diagnosis of ADHD might point to the need to have written directions in along with  those given orally, or the need to have models or examples of the desired finished product.  Frequent "check ins" by the teacher can provide both monitoring of work quality and  encouragement. 

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