One of the most frustrating parts of having a Learning Disability is my slow processing speed. Often times I may know the information or how to respond but have difficulty activating it.
I can remember playing kick ball as a child in school. I understood that I needed to kick the ball when it someone kicked it to me. When it was my turn, I wanted to, but I was unable to kick the ball. The peers on my team were upset with me. They asked why I didn’t kick the ball. My brain was having trouble communicating to my foot what it needed to do. I understood the objective but my processing speed was slowing me down.
It has also impacted me socially, when in conversations with people, especially in stressful situations such as disagreements I often don’t think of a good retort until after the fact. It can also be difficult for me to focus on the good of the person I am upset with. I remember having an argument over something a mutual friend had said. She sided with the other person and asked me to list things that I liked about the other person. My slow processing speed made me pause for a moment and she thought that I was uncaring. I was upset with the person, but I was hurt and my mind needed to processes the information. I am also unable to recall information, especially numbers when upset. I will give the wrong number or piece of information. Many times people have exasperated and corrected me. I have had people who have suggested therapy. It’s frustrating.
Slow processing speed has created difficulties academically as well. I had to receive extended test time because my brain takes longer to process what is being asked. In the classroom I have blurted out wrong answers to questions being asked, and have been humiliated by the laughter of my peers. I lacked the confidence of answering questions for fear of being wrong.
A person who is neurotypical processes the answer to a question. A person who is neurotypical needs to process the question being asked, and then process the answer. My brain has to go through an extra step to answer the question. Many people don’t understand how much the extra step can impact my processing speed. I remember sharing with a person how I was struggling in a class and receiving extended test time. She told me to stop complaining and that other people have worse disabilities than I do. I can remember her saying “All it takes you is an extra few minutes to finish a test but other people have worse disabilities.” I realize that other people have challenges, but invalidating my struggle did not help it.
I have no control over how my brain processes information. I also have no control over the reactions of other people, in regards to my slow processing speed. My brain simply processes information slower and stress can make it more difficult. I have learned to give myself grace and to work with the rate my brain processes information.
2 thoughts on “The toll my slow processing speed / A Question and the Answer”
Wonderful blog as usual. Minimizing disabilities is frustrating.
The kickball story struck a chord with me. My Expressive Arts Therapy instructor was accepting of my neurodiversity. He noticed when I would “leave” the group and come back with a response to something that someone said 3 comments back. He was highly skilled at including my response and making it relevant. He is a very skilled teacher.
One of the things that I’ve tried to do when designing the Crip Reading Room is to give everyone time to get through the book (one book/6 week), slowing the pace by breaking the discussion into 3 sessions every 2 weeks, and including the author in the last discussion gives readers a chance to ask how they wrote the book. In your opinion is there anything I can do to make this group more inclusive of people who have learning disabilities? I’m dyslexic – how I process things is a bit muddled – and I read at a normal rate. The format works well for me, I can write out my questions prior to each meeting based on my notes, but I want to make sure that the group is inclusive beyond my needs.
I appreciate your reply.
Thank you and the best of the New Year,
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Thank you so much! It sounds like your doing a great job breaking down the material with your students. One thing that may help is having your students keep a reading journal. They could write down a few notes on what is happening at the end of every chapter or at important passage. You may also want to review the important info of the story with them. I remember having trouble comprehending what I read and what information was important.
Happy New year to you as well!
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