Archive for September, 2016

When Processing Speed Slows You Down

Most of my young clients who are twice-exceptional have neuropsychological assessment scores that highlight a variety of slow processing speeds. That asynchrony between their intellectual abilities and their processing issues leads some parents and teachers to label these kids as lazy, willful, or inattentive.

Although these are common issues for kids who are twice-exceptional, few parents or teachers have the necessary training to recognize and then accommodate for these processing speed variations.

I was fortunate to find the book Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up by Ellen Braaten, h.D. and Brian Willoughby, Ph.D. Braaten is the Director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Willoughby is a staff Psychologist at the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and a faculty member at Harvard Medical School.

As the authors say, “In general, though, processing speed involves one or more of the following functions: the amount of time it takes to perceive information (this can be through any of the senses, but usually through the visual and auditory channels), process information, and/or formulate or enact a response. Another way to define processing speed is to say it’s the time required to perform an intellectual task or the amount of work that can be completed with a certain period of time. Even more simply, processing speed could be defined as how long it takes to get stuff done.”

The authors break processing speeds into three categories: visual processing (“how quickly our eyes perceive information and relay it to the brain”), verbal processing (“how quickly we hear a stimulus and react to it”), and motor speed (“fine motor agility, such as how fast we can copy something or put pegs in a board, rather than to how fast someone can run, for example”).

Processing speed issues are often an indication of other learning challenges including:

  • ADHD
  • Dyslexia
  • Nonverbal learning disabilities
  • Language-based learning disabilities
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosocial stressors

Most kids who have slow processing speed may share some of these common issues:

  • Slow reading
  • Slow writing
  • Slow responses to questions
  • Slow responses to requests
  • Poor memory recall
  • Slow completion of work
  • Appear unmotivated or apathetic
  • Appear to be fidgety

For lots of detailed information on processing speed in the classroom and at home, this book is a wonderful resource.

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September 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

Taking a Journey into the Rainforest Mind

It has been more than four years (and two grandchildren) since I last wrote a post for this site. In that time, I have continued working with amazing gifted and twice-exceptional clients, and I have read dozens of great books. So where to begin, that’s easy: Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth by Paula Prober. I wrote a previous post about Prober in March 2102, entitled Giftedness and the Rainforest Mind: Our Endangered Students. Her blog posts continue to be insightful, humorous, and important.

Your Rainforest Mind is THE book for those people beginning their exploration of gifted issues as well as those (like me) who have been in gifted education for decades. I own dozens of book on giftedness (and I have read many more), and this book rises to the top for its holistic approach to understanding gifted people.

As a professor of gifted education, I was always looking for the best resources to expand my students’ hearts and minds about gifted people. I certainly would have required this book for my courses on “Introduction to Gifted Education” and “Social and Psychological Foundations of Gifted Children.”

What makes Prober’s work seminal is that it includes the stories and voices of her clients, it provides a wealth of valuable resources, and it has the potential of having a significant impact on gifted adults, and on the parents of gifted children.

The stories of Prober’s clients are so compelling, I am grateful to be able to learn from them, and I know many readers will now hope to find a therapist who connects so deeply with their rainforest minds.

September 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment


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