Jump to content


Exercises for slow processing and slow working memory?


Recommended Posts

My 2e kid had HUGE processing deficits as a small child -- as it, he twice tested Coding at 5 and 6% while his topmost subscores were at 98+%.  The evaluator literally said he had never *seen* discrepancies like that.

He was at the time too little to withstand brute exercises like digit span. But therapists recommended a number of GAMES that require processing speed, and we worked them into our regular routines.  It was not difficult and (while there are far too many variable to be confident of causality) I *think* it helped.  Certainly it did no harm.

Purely visual processing speed:

  • SET  (this is a genius game that 4 year olds can win once they understand how to play it, so it has many advantages as a family game beyond its processing speed practice)
  • iota (similar to SET, but with turns, so if SET is too demoralizing for a new player, particularly with processing issues, this is a good way to work up to the timed element of SET)
  • Sequence

Verbal processing speed:

  • Boggle
  • Banagrams
  • Various online variations of Boggle premise (make as many words as you can as fast as you can from a finite bunch of letters)
  • Various games like charades/Taboo/Pictionary/Jeopardy (that require rapid word retrieval and/or information retrieval)

And honestly any game based on probability calculations -- from Yahtzee/Farkle to Five Crowns/poker to hearts -- requires exercising processing in a timely manner and thus supports and rewards the development of processing muscles, even if there is turn-taking so there isn't a literal race as there is with many of the games above.  ETA particularly card games that reward counting cards.

I'd try that route as an enjoyable family tradition, before attempting to subject an adult to rote exercises; YMMV.

Edited by Pam in CT
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We did similar games to those mentioned in the post above mine. There's one called something like Distraction, you have to play the card, say back the number, repeat back all the ones before yours, and then every so often a card comes in with a question and you have to stop and answer the question before continuing. 

We also played a lot of those "I'm going to grandma's house and I'm taking a......." games (where each person says a thing, and you have to keep repeating the full list). 

Other games would also be Scattergories, Ticket to Ride (being able to plan the routes, adjust, etc. seems to work that set of stuff), any of the various slapping games (where you slap cards that are played), or Solitaire, or especially the various group solitaire games (it's called something, where all the aces go in the middle and you're trying to play on those...?). 

Even chess & checkers can be good, for one on one. 

There are likely single player games via apps for a smart phone that would be good for an adult, too. You may check into that. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My dd12 has very low processing speed. The  neuropsych evaluator told me that there is very, little you can do to speed it up. Pretty much just teach strategies to compensate.

ie Teach them to  use a highlighter when they read, so they don't have to reread whole passages for information. 

ie If they are reading and answering questions based on the reading, make sure to read the questions first  to avoid rereading for information. 

ie Learn addition/subtraction/multiplication facts to 15 or higher, so they have less time figuring out simple math computations. Use memory instead of processing skills for fact based knowledge. 


  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Terabith said:

There are some metronome activities that can boost it.  Ask on learning challenges.  

We have not gone this route (no one to do it, and I have zero ability to do anything to a beat, lol!). But my kids do music, and the one with the lowest processing speed does percussion as one of his areas of music. It really does help. If he's already musical, maybe picking up a different instrument would help. 

Bodywork can help--we have someone that is doing the Bal-a-vis-x training, and we're hoping my son can do it for therapy now that we'll have someone trained. It's been recommended many times by OTs. However, you can do some simple things with body work and working memory that would be household things or games, such as tossing different colored balls--asking someone to toss the green, then the yellow, then the red, for example. Simon (the light-up game) is excellent, and so is the Bop-it game. 

Working memory needs support as well as a workout, but I agree on the games for working memory. Just start someplace innately rewarding and not overwhelming. 

Once a task starts to get easier, you can add distractions. So, if you do metronome work with a ball or something, make sure at various stages, you add in talking and such for exercises that have mastered while you're working on the next hardest task.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestions. First I want to clarify this is for my husband, not a child. Pam in CT, my husband has similar results as your child, astronomically high in most areas, 98% and higher, and dramatically low in processing and working memory.  Ironically, he is lightning fast at all of the games suggested. He literally beats all of us 95 % of the time. Of the games suggested, we don't have Distraction, I'll have to look for that one. He already plays drums very well, but maybe  we should talk about him adding another instrument.

He just started therapy with the Neuropsychologist who is old school and says the deficiencies can be helped with therapy. It's just slow going, and he really wants to get things moving.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, mamakelly said:

Thanks for the suggestions. First I want to clarify this is for my husband, not a child. Pam in CT, my husband has similar results as your child, astronomically high in most areas, 98% and higher, and dramatically low in processing and working memory.  Ironically, he is lightning fast at all of the games suggested.


Honestly I think this pattern (very high IQ + very low processing speed and working memory) is mostly a function of hard wiring and not really "fixable." It's especially common in people who tend to think in images rather than words. People who are wired this way are actually often very good at games that require fast processing of visual material (cards, board games, etc.) because they see the board or table as a whole and are good at processing spatial relationships as well. They may be good at geometry and trig but struggle with algebra or even simple arithmetic if it requires a lot of steps where you need to hold numbers in your head. They may be good at recognizing faces and places but struggle with linking them to names. Etc.

I'd look for practical strategies like the ones Tap mentioned: using highlighters or colored pens to mark up reading material for better retention, using diagrams or "mind map" type organizational tools versus lists, taking photos of things with his phone to serve as reminders instead of using text reminders, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of my sons had a less than 1% processing speed. It's now at 7%, which does not seem like a big jump but represents something like 40 points higher in the raw score. He has not done any therapy, other than OT at age 10, which addressed a multitude of issues and not just PS, but he is a drummer and plays bass guitar. He practices for hours per day. I have to believe it has had an effect.

However, I agree with others who have said that processing speed generally stays static. Small gains may happen, but I haven't found evidence that it can be fixed. Instead, he can think about ways to work around whatever issues are present (which can vary from person to person).

Working memory can expand some, I think. You can google for ideas (which you probably already have, but it's my best suggestion -- my specific ideas would be for students instead of adults).

Edited by Storygirl
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...