Slow Processing Speed — Index

This page introduces the topic of slow processing, what we believe to be one of the least understood and least researched phenomena of learning disability and emotional and behavioral disturbance.  At the same time we believe it is one of the most significant contributors to student failure and behavioral disruption.  As of September, 2010, as we create this page, we have found very little literature on the topic and no actual research that we could find.  (Actually, September, 2010, was when we created the original version of this page in the old format website).

For that reason, we are turning this section of our website into an online symposium on this topic.   We solicit articles from educators, psychologists, parents, and last but not least, students who have survived slow processing.  We welcome comments from the general public.  Please bring to our attention relevant articles elsewhere on the web so we can link them, and references to non-web publications that are relevant, so we can call attention to them.

It is now August 2014 and we are revising.   On a recent tour of schools and programs in Utah, following closely on the heels of a visit to the Carlbrook School in Virginia, we see it is time to update.  Our interaction with the folks at Carlbrook School reminded us that students with a processing speed issue not only need a school environment (and in many cases a therapeutic environment) which adjusts to their processing issue, but also guidance in learning how to prosper in environments where their challenge is not understood.  We thank Melissa Peacock, Carlbrook's Assistant Dean of Academics for bringing to our attention the fact that we have given insufficient attention to preparing students for managing a future situation where there would be no accommodations or adjustments.

Now in April, 2015, we are revising again.  We have just learned of two books with good information on slow processing.  The first is very recently published:   Bright Kids Who Can't Keep Up:  Help Your Child Overcome Slow Processing Speed and Succeed in a Fast Paced World, by Ellen Braaten Ph.D. and Brian Willoughby, Ph. D.  We have purchased the book.  We have a distance to go before providing in-depth comments, but at this stage it appears to be a very valuable resource for a parent of child with a slow processing problem, although in places what these authors report differs from our experience.  When we have more thoroughly studied the book, we will go into greater depth on this.  But we are already convinced that purchasing this book would be an excellent investment for a parent with a child with processing speed issues.

The other book we have learned about is Tigers Too (followed by a very long subtitle) by Marilyn P. Dornbush and Sheryl K. Pruitt. We have acquired this book and reviewed it. Helen Croke at FamilyLight is an educator who has taught at every age level from pre-K through college. She agrees with comments from reviews on the web that it is written for a professional audience.  It is not primarily about Slow Processing.  It is mostly about classroom strategies for working with students with a variety of learning issues. Helen believes it would be a valuable resource for classroom teachers. Strategies for slow processors are included as a very small part of a very excellent resource on a much broader topic.  We do not recommend it for a parent narrowly focused on Slow Processing.

Reader comments on these books are welcome!

Shortly after our visit to Carlbrook we toured eight different schools and programs in Utah on an all-too-rapid tour.   Spokespersons for almost all of the schools and programs we visited initiated discussion the topic of slow processing (apparently unaware of our our special interest in the topic) and addressed what they see as the cause and effect relationships between slow processing and the therapeutic challenges facing their students/ residents.  We hope they will contribute their thoughts to this symposium.

Our latest major addition to this symposium is from Dr. Justin Carter at Telos.   Dr. Carter has pointed out that rigidity is a possible product of a slow processing issue and that can lead to a misdiagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder.

We are particularly grateful to Merridee Michelsen, Ph. D., for contributing our first on-point written explanation for publication from a true expert, allowing us to get this  discussion topic off the ground.

We appreciate the recent suggestion from Educational Consultant Lucy Pritzker that we include a link to information on slow processing from the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario  We believe the grounding in this article might persuade some skeptics.

We  offer the following items.  Please send us more.  We are especially interested in research, case studies, and first person accounts of students who have experienced difficulties with slow processing.  But anything on-topic will be welcome.   Alternative points of view are particularly welcome.

Original Articles:

Merridee Michelson, Ph. D., on Slow Processing      (Member Access Only)  Introduction -- Publicly Accessible

Tom Croke on Slow Processing     (Member Access Only)   Introduction -- Publicly Accessible

Justin Carter, Psy.D., on Slow Processing and Rigidity     (Member Access Only)    Introduction -- Publicly Accessible

Analogy Describing Experience of Child or Young Adult with Slow Processing Speed

Schools and programs we believe adhere to recommendations of FamilyLight and Dr. Michelson regarding slow processing       (Member Access only

Outside Links to information on Slow Processing:

Bright Kids Who Can't Keep Up:  Help Your Child Overcome Slow Processing Speed and Succeed in a Fast Paced World, by Ellen Braaten Ph.D. and Brian Willoughby, Ph. D.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario on Slow Processing 

Tutorial: Slow Information Processing (due to brain injury)  This was prepared by The Brain Injury Association of New York State

Supportive Resources:

Assistive Technology   (This link is currently defunct.  We are seeking information to update)  

Rick Lavoie's Fat City and other resources

Tigers Too (followed by a very long subtitle) by Marilyn P. Dornbush and Sheryl K. Pruitt  This is an excellent reference for teachers  on learning difficulties in general -- especially those that involve executive function. In that  context slow processing is one topic among many but what is there is constructive.

Last updated April 13, 2015

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