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Processing information with an ABI fact sheet

Processing information (speed) in students with an acquired brain injury

How do I know if my student is having difficulties with processing information in a timely way?

Changes in processing speed (or how quickly a student reacts to information, understands, formulates a response, and executes the response) is common following a brain injury. This is not the same as intelligence (i.e., can be quite bright, but have slowed processing) or physical quickness (i.e., the young person can recover well physically, but continue to have processing speed difficulties). In a classroom setting, students with processing speed difficulties may find it harder to keep up with the pace of activities, may take longer to understand and complete routine tasks, or take longer to generate ideas or responses to questions. Students with slowed processing often require additional time to complete exams and assignments. They may also find it harder to keep up with their friend’s conversations, ideas, and rapid social interactions.

What can I do to help my student with their information processing speed?

  • It will be important to allow your student time to complete tasks at their own pace.
  • Where possible, reduce the amount of work your student is expected to complete in a given time frame. For instance, half the number of sums given to the student when introducing a new concept. Only give the student more sums to do (possibly for homework or revision) to help the student consolidate the work.
  • Allow the student extra time to complete tasks.
  • Allow the student extra time for exams and timed assessment.
  • Allow the student extra time to think of and say a response.
  • Control the rate of information presented to the student. For instance, present 1-2 new ideas, pause and allow the student to process the information, before giving more information.
  • Provide photocopied notes for the student to refer to (rather than having the student trying to keep up with the pace of writing and listening to content).
  • Allow alternative methods of task completion, such as using a lap top, audio recording work, allowing the student to record the lesson, or allowing the student to take a picture of the board.

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service
Queensland Children’s Hospital
Level 6, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane 4101
t: 07 3068 2950
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
f: 07 3068 3909

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Developed by the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Children’s Health Queensland. Updated: October 2017. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.