Slow Processing: 3 Personality Characteristics to Watch for in Kids that Struggle with Slow Processing Education

Slow Processing: 3 Personality Characteristics to Watch for in Kids that Struggle with Slow Processing

This article provides helpful information regarding slow processing in students that have difficulty completing tasks and assignments. Affiliate links are included for your convenience.

In previous articles, we discussed the popular topic of kids that struggle with slow processing speed. These kids wrangle with performance in school and clash with internal forces to keep the pace with friends and peers. This can be daunting to both kids and parents alike. Sometimes, due to the effects of slow processing in many areas of their lives, they begin straining themselves to maintain a strong self-esteem.

What I found as I worked with kids that showed slow processing signs is that the majority of students with slow processing fit into one of three personality categories, generally. Once we identified the unique personality category the child fell into, we could focus the program, communication, and motivators individually to maximize the growth and success of these hard-working kids.

Slow Processing: 3 Personality Characteristics to Watch for in Kids that Struggle with Slow Processing | ilslearningcorner.com

As I began to see more students with slow processing issues, I found a book written by Ellen Braaten and Brian Willoughby, called Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up. I was thrilled to see they were describing exactly what I had been experiencing at our learning center. They actually describe the three different personality categories of kids that struggle with slow processing speed and the different methods they use to help each one with their specific needs.

It’s important to remember, kids will naturally find a way to deal with slow processing. There will always be a defense mechanism that they come up with to help them academically as well as socially. I recognized many of these signs in my own son and used many of the ideas to help. Here are the three unique groups of personality categories your child may fall into if they struggle with slow processing speed.

Chill Kids or Too Cool Kids

I often think of some of my students as “too cool” to describe their personality traits, but in Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up, they call these children the “Chill kids.” The best way to describe these kids is “they are just chill.” Life moves at a slower rate and they are ok with it. The chill kid takes slow processing on like a badge of honor. These laid back kids will say things like, “relax man,” “just chill,” “it’s cool, no worries.” Sometimes, they will make fun of their peers that turn in assignments quickly or win academic achievements.

One of the factors that plays a role in the “chill child’s” academic success is the attitude and teaching style of their teacher. I have seen the differences in these types of students when they transition from a teacher that valued speed to a teacher that understood and valued the take it easy approach. When the teacher valued the take it easy approach, the student became more involved with the class and had pride in getting assignments done. The teacher was more willing to work with the student, which also made him more cooperative and easier to work with when he was at our center.

Slow Processing: 3 Personality Characteristics to Watch for in Kids that Struggle with Slow Processing | ilslearningcorner.com

Anxious Kids

I always feel like our anxious students were nervous all the time. Nervous about what they are missing, nervous about keeping up with homework and schoolwork, and nervous about staying up to pace with their friends and peers. In Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up, the authors masterfully describe the following about the anxious kids:

“Their already weak processing speed causes them to be anxious, and their anxiety slows them down even further. At home (and sometimes at school) they appear anxious and have meltdowns when presented with tasks they know they can’t do. If they have a teacher who understands anxiety and who doesn’t put a premium on speed, they’ll tend to do well, but a teacher who values quickness and perfection is typically a bad match for this type of child.”

Daydreamer kids

I can identify these cute kids immediately because I have a daydreamer myself. It’s like she is always preoccupied with something else on her mind or she is confused with what she needs to be doing. These types of kids are considered “lost kids.” You may find your child showing up in the wrong room or at the wrong time (and not just occasionally). These kids don’t really act chill or anxious, they can appear overwhelmed and they may not know where to start on a project or assignment.

Slow Processing: 3 Personality Characteristics to Watch for in Kids that Struggle with Slow Processing | ilslearningcorner.com

What does Slow Processing Mean?

Slow processing means that the child just takes a bit longer than other kids to make sense of information that is coming into his or her world. Most children that have weak processing skills score normal or high on intelligence tests. Frequently, the base for the slow processing issue is either an auditory or visual problem. Many times, this issue prevents the child from demonstrating their knowledge either verbally or in written form.

Do any of these characteristics describe your child? When you can identify their personality category for combating slow processing, and when you can determine if their struggle is more auditory or visual, you can start to make adjustments and requests for classroom accommodations.

Tips to Create the Best Environment for Kids with Slow Processing Speed

To ensure your child is getting the most help with slow processing, use the following methods to improve their learning ability:

School Accommodations

Slow processing speed is a real issue and can prevent children from performing at the same level as other students. For example, a child may struggle with finishing a math test in the assigned time because they have to read the question multiple times to process the information. If pushed, the student rushes and makes several mistakes. To help your child, speak with the teacher and discuss accommodations such as a shortened version of the same test, or extra time to take the full version. Homework accommodations could be useful as well. You may want to ask the teacher if your child can complete fewer pages or math problems or you can ask them if they can give your child homework every other night instead of every night.

Count to 5 Method

When you are at home giving instructions, warnings or explanations, between each step, count the numbers one to five slowly in your head before giving your child the next instruction. This does wonders. It allows the child to process the information you are giving them at their pace. As time passes, you will be able to clearly see if they need that step repeated before moving on.

Grab a Stack of Blank Papers

Have a stack of blank papers handy during any schoolwork or homework assignment. Cover up all the lines except for one when your child is working. This allows your child to focus and diminishes the anxiety of so many problems to complete. It also diminishes other distractions on the page that may cause them to lose their attention on the current assignment. Sticky notes are also another great option.

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Slow Processing: 3 Personality Characteristics to Watch for in Kids that Struggle with Slow Processing | ilslearningcorner.com


Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs


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