6 Slow Processing Speed Interventions For Kids & Adults

Kids and adults with ADHD and other learning difficulties have something in common: They all have problems with processing speed.

Do you have this difficulty or know someone who has it? This article explores six excellent slow processing speed interventions for kids and adults.

Since the concept of slow processing speed is still very new, we’ll first highlight what slow processing speed is and its signs.

This knowledge will aid a better understanding of how to solve slow processing speed.

What Is Slow Processing Speed?

Slow processing speed is when an individual requires a lot of time to absorb information, understand it, and respond.

Information presented to these individuals could be verbal, motor, or visual.

Irrespective of the mode the information takes when an adult or a child has a slow processing speed, the time required to process a piece of information is often similar.

Alternatively, we can define slow processing speed as a delay in the time required to undertake an intellectual task. 

Slow processing speed can happen independently. However, in most cases, it comes with anxiety, dyslexia, and ADHD.

If you tell an adult or a kid with a slow processing speed to “hurry up,” their level of anxiety will increase. Also, they’ll have difficulty completing the tasks you gave them. 

Interestingly, slow processing speed has no relationship with how smart a person is. 

The only problem is the time it takes to complete a task.

So, those with slow processing speed aren’t dumb or unintelligent. That’s surprising? 

Okay, this is what it simply means: A child or adult with a slow processing speed might solve a question correctly but have difficulty solving it on time.

So, it is not out of place to see them take a long time before completing a task. 

It shouldn’t also surprise you that they’ll get answers to tough questions when time isn’t holding them hostage. 

With this explanation, how do you verify that you have a slow processing speed? Let’s see!

Signs Of Slow Processing Speed

Slow processing speed impacts both kids and adults. It could be in the classroom, at home, and even when engaging in activities like sports.

It’s common for kids and adults with slow processing speed to exhibit these signs:

1. Difficulty Completing A Test Or Homework At A Specified Time

Let’s assume that fifteen minutes is allotted for some group of students to complete their tests.

Kids who are in attendance and have a slow processing speed will take much time. Say, twenty or more. 

Of course, a single occurrence isn’t sufficient for validation. However, when it becomes consistent, it’s a clear sign!

2. Problem Taking Notes When Teachers Speak

When a teacher takes dictation, a child with slow processing speed will have difficulty keeping up with the teacher’s pace.

Additionally, they have difficulty reading their notes. 

It either comes as a burden, or they are just simply disinterested in reading.

3. Difficulty Solving Simple Arithmetic Problems In The Head

While it is easier for other kids to complete a simple arithmetic problem in their heads, that’s not the same with kids with slow processing speed.

The whole process will get muddled and look too complex.

4. Problem Handling Multi-step Arithmetic Problem Within A Given Time

While there is difficulty addressing simple questions in a short while, it even becomes more difficult if it has to do with arithmetic.

5. Reading Information Several Times For Comprehension

Comprehension for kids with slow processing speed is possible.

However, it comes after several trials. And when you notice that it is consistent in a child, it might be a pointer to slow processing speed.

Learn More: What Causes Slow Processing Speed? Here Are 4 Reasons

6. Have Difficulty Understanding Multi-step Directions 

These are instructions that come in steps format.

So, those with slow processing speeds often have problems linking one step to another.  

7. Problem With Written Projects That Demand Complex Thoughts And Details

When it comes to complex tasks, adults or children with slow processing speed have difficulty processing complex thoughts faster. 

They can process it only by calming down and analyzing each piece of information. 

8. Difficulty Keeping Up With Conversations

If you want to enjoy conversations with them, make it simple. 

9. Requires A Lot Of Time To Make Decisions Or Provide An Answer 

It takes time before a child or an adult living with slow processing speed to come up with an answer to your question.

Even when it has to do with decision-making, they need sufficient time.

10. Becomes Overwhelmed With Excessive Information At Once

They are often pleased with taking information one after the other. I mean bit by bit. 

If you bombard them with excessive information, they will have difficulty knowing what to process and what not to.

Can you identify with any of these signs? Do you know someone who exhibits any of these signs?

While it is best to seek medical help for full medical interventions, the following slow processing speed interventions are what I will call “first aid treatment” for SPS. 

Let’s start with kids.

Slow Processing Speed Interventions For Kids

As said earlier, the concept of slow processing speed and its effect is still new.

Therefore, when a child is wrestling with slow processing speed, parents should take the lead in working with schools, the child itself, and psychologists to manage the condition well.

The following strategies are what have worked for many adults and parents. Thus, if you are a teacher, parent, or an adult with slow processing speed, implementing these strategies will enhance your lifestyle.

1. School-Based Strategies

The committee in a school should offer an evaluation to verify a child’s eligibility for modifications and accommodations.

If they figure out any formal learning disorder, the authority will offer IEP (Individual Education Program). 

For students who do not have formal learning disorders but have learning disabilities due to ADHD, the school should offer services under section 504 of the Disabilities Act.

In some situations, the school could offer these services before determining any formal eligibility. 

Regardless of the services a student is qualified to receive, it is vital to prevent slow processing from impacting his success. 

Teachers are encouraged to be vigilant. When they recognize a child with slow processing speed, they should work on differentiating their instruction. 

When it happens to gifted students, teachers shouldn’t deprive them of enjoying a quality education.

A teacher who intervenes in a child’s slow processing speed problem must determine the source of the problem and offer the right interventions. 

Some of the best interventions that are needed are:

  • Increase the time needed for completing exams, tests, and quizzes
  • Eradicating clerical tasks and implementing brief response format.
  • Discouraging “Mad Math Minute” tests
  • Reducing the number of tasks needed to prove competence
  • Tracking time spent on homework and making adjustments when needed.

Also Read: Understanding Slow Processing Speed In Adults

2. Home-Based Strategies

Parents must be aware of the severe impact slow processing speed has on their child’s life and work hard to limit the impact.

Students who have slow processing speed have problems with homework. 

When parents notice that, they should work with teachers to figure how long their child will stay on each assignment.

They should also emphasize what to do if the time allotted is exceeded. The goal of every parent is to fight homework battles.

As a parent, you should avoid personalizing, reacting emotionally, and punishing your child. 

Do remember that slow processing speed isn’t by choice, and interestingly, you can improve it. 

Parents can help in providing kids with: 

  • More structure
  • Timers
  • Alarms
  • Incentives

These interventions for older children can improve their problem-solving skills.

Children that are wrestling with ADHD could benefit immensely from stimulant pills. These include medications like:

Of course, these pills might not directly increase processing speed, but they could help a child focus and enhance a child’s pace in handling assignments.

When you take your child to the hospital for proper diagnosis, you should then take time to explore the prescribed medication with a medical specialist or a pediatrician.

Additionally, parents must also monitor and address any sleep problem that’s present in a child. 

They should also work on encouraging sound nutrition and the inclusion of exercise into their routine.

3. Child-Based Strategies

Some smart students with slow processing speed wouldn’t view themselves as intelligent.

Therefore, it is vital to help these lads understand the pattern and nature of their abilities.

It might also be beneficial to remind them that we all have our strengths and weaknesses and that having slow processing speed doesn’t mean a person isn’t smart.

Often, I liken kids with slow processing speed to an intellectual Tank. Yes, Tanks aren’t fast but are extremely powerful.

Students are encouraged to make wise use of alarms and timers to help them effectively track time. 

Parents can utilize a stopwatch to verify how much it will take a child to finish routine tasks. Then, work on them.

Also, give rewards as they improve with time. Here Are Examples Of A Few Child-Based Strategies:

a. Practicing

Practicing a specific skill can help enhance a child’s speed at that particular skill.

Several types of research have shown that repeating a task can make doing the task become automatic.

And interestingly, the more automatic it becomes, the more quickly we can complete the task.

This applies to every facet of the kid’s life, from brushing to learning multiplication tables. When a child performs a skill repeatedly, he gets faster at it.

The help a parent can render in this regard is to make sure their child performs a task repeatedly. 

To help a child limit the time he spends on an assignment, you can implement the following strategies.

  • Start With A List Of What Is Expected Of Him. When your child sees that, he would be confident to work on the assignment because he already knows what he should do.
  • Set Clear Goals. When goals are clear, he will be sure he’s working on the right task. So, always keep the list of your requirements handy and make vital reviews.

b. Organization And Planning Skills

It is never too early to learn how to be an organized person. Of course, planning can be challenging for small children who have SPS.

This can even be more difficult if they don’t know the time required to complete a task.

To work this out, help them keep a log of start and stop times. This will help them estimate the amount of time required to finish a project.

When you stress organization and planning, you can help your child become more efficient with routine tasks.

You can also make things easier for them by making tasks predictable and consistent. 

When your child sticks to a routine, they have less new information to process.

c. Staying Positive

Help your child stay positive. It is easy to lose focus on the bigger picture and focus on day-to-day worries.

It is important to note that processing speed might become less pronounced as your kid grows up.

That is because, as they grow up, they can choose from a list of jobs that are open to adults with slow processing speed.

Take, for instance, a child with a slow processing speed might not be able to be a doctor, but he can be a respected radiologist.

Finally, always work hard to maximize the potential of your child. These include your expectations. Yes, keep them realistic.

Always learn to accommodate them. You both can work hard to make the situation better.   

Three Slow Processing Speed Interventions For Adults

What are examples of slow processing speed interventions for adults? Well, let’s explore them in detail.

First, as an adult, you should have a better understanding of your problem. Having the correct understanding of your problem will help you cope with slow processing speed.

When you can identify your problem, you can win the battle at an unprecedented rate!

Then, whatever strategy you are implementing will work well. 

So, for adults, these are some of the interventions you can implement:

1. Smart Utilization Of Technology

What works for Anthony might not work for Tom. As a result, you need to use technology intelligently. Utilize some time management apps.

You can utilize other game apps to enhance slow processing speed. 

2. Take Advantage Of Break Time

If you’ve not been giving yourself this privilege, it’s time to start it. 

Giving yourself breaks daily can recharge you and help you stay focused.

So, even if you are overwhelmed with tasks, still ensure you give yourself time.

3. Be Realistic

As an adult with a slow processing speed, be realistic with your timing. Do not set unrealistic timing. 

When you are on a project, as long as you aren’t taking needless breaks to visit social media pages, accept the result and reasonably plan on improving.  

These Are Specific Problems And Possible Interventions For Both Adults And Kids 

1. Activation

To address this problem, investigate if you or the child is: 

  • Engrossed in other activity 
  • Confused about the next action to take 
  • Missing the instructions 
  • Anxious about failing 

If you can figure out the problem, the solution won’t be far-fetched. 

2. Emotional Factors

If the slow processing speed stems from emotional factors. The following set of interventions will be effective:

  • Encourage
  • Support
  • Offer help when starting out

3. Cognitive Factors 

In this situation, the child doesn’t know where to start. These interventions are needed:

  • Develop a plan for them
  • Break Down Tasks: Don’t overwhelm them with lots of tasks. Break them down into smaller chunks.
  • Utilize graphic organizers:

4. Focus And Attention

If a child has difficulty focusing in a class as a result of the SPS condition.

  • Limit Distraction: You could place them in a location where they will be less distracted
  • Identify on-task behavior
  • Offer white noise
  • Offer incentives when they complete tasks within a short time
  • Prompts student when they drift

5. Working Memory

  • Encourage questions
  • Offer gentle reminders
  • Offer templates of completed work
  • Repeat directions

6. Handwriting

  • Check if there is any presence  of dysgraphia
  • Give advance copies of the teacher’s notes
  • Have another student share copies of notes
  • Offer access to word processing speed and word-to-speech-to-text application. 
  • Let a student share copies of notes taken. 


One of the essential roles of parents is to advocate for their children. 

Once they spot the problem in their child, they must always work hard with school personnel. Be a collaborative partner.

Also, ensure that your child advocates for himself. Offer information about learning abilities and teach them how to express themselves.

Also, do remember that slow processing speed has nothing to do with smartness. 

It is simply the pace at which a child takes in information, the time required to respond, and uses the information. 

So always accommodate your child. 

Parents must remember that when slow processing speed is left unattended, children can feel demoralized and discouraged. 

Nevertheless, when they are understood and efforts are made to limit the impact, they can shine. 

Unwavering encouragement, support, and education from parents are great tools. Use them well!

Welcome! I’m Trust. I’m a writer, public instructor, and mobile photographer. I’m passionate about an organized and productive life and have keen concern for folks living with ADHD and those having a slow processing speed. Join me on this journey as we live an organized and productive life!

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