Processing-Speed Deficits and Rigidity — Introduction

By Justin Carter, Psy. D

In the field of psychology, children and teens who present as rigid and inflexible are often labeled as oppositional defiant or placed on the Autistic Spectrum. Sometimes, one of these labels fits. There is, however, a group of children and teens who have deficits in processing speed who can present as defiant or spectrum (refers to a range of behaviors that coincide with Autistic like behaviors and include diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS, Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett’s Disorder, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder). Having spectrum-like behaviors does not alone qualify a son or a daughter for an autistic diagnosis.

For many of these children, who have an average intelligence or even an elevated intelligence in some categories on a traditional test for intelligence, the speed in which their brain processes information creates unique challenges for both the child and theparents.  One challenge is having difficulty shifting from one activity to another.  Another challenge is shifting from one item to another in the mind. Both challenges can be viewed as rigidity.

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Last Updated March 30, 2015

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