A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student responds slowly, perhaps after a considerable delay; the student also works slowly.
Cognitive/Self-Reulatory Possibility:
Isolated rate-of-processing impairment

Step 1: Organize observations relevant to the problematic behavior/issue

  • Who is reporting the problem?
  • When does it occur? (Include time of day, activities etc).
  • Where does it occur?
  • What tends to precede the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What tends to follow the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What is the age and functioning level of the student?
  • Previous documentation/charts?

Step 2: Identify possible contributors to the problematic behavior/issue

In many cases, there are several contributors to the student’s identified problem. These contributors may interact with each other, therefore, it may be necessary to combine tests from different categories of possibilities. The existence of several interacting contributors may become obvious as you proceed through individual intervention experiments.

Isolated rate-of-processing impairment: Some students may respond and work slowly as a direct result of widespread diffuse neuronal damage or possibly frontal lobe injury. (See Tutorial on Slow Information Processing).

Relevant observations: The student’s slow processing does not appear to be a result of any of the medical, cognitive, behavioral, or emotional possibilities listed. In some students with TBI, widespread diffuse neuronal damage or specific frontal lobe injury can produce slow processing that is independent of all other problems. Medical records may suggest such injury. The student may request extra time. He may routinely be behind. He may produce responses after the class has moved on to another topic. He may routinely perform better when given extra time.

Useful experiments for assessment and intervention:

  1. Observe and record the frequency and/or intensity of the problem behavior when a new teaching strategy or support is being implemented versus when it is not being implemented.
  2. Possible slowness-related teaching strategies or supports: Create an environment that allows for instructional support. This may include (a) slowing and repeating the directions or giving the student directions in both written and verbal form; (b) making certain that the student has processed the information before moving on; ( c) making certain that the student repeats the information when it is first given; (d) giving extra time. In ways such as this, ensure that the student has every opportunity to process information and produce responses.
  3. If the frequency and/or intensity of the target behavior decreases during intervention, it may be that this student’s problem behavior is in part a result of specific difficulty with rapid processing of information. (See Tutorial on Slow Information Processing.)

Possible referrals: Physician to explore possible neurological basis and possible medication intervention; instructional support specialist for instructional strategies; behavior specialist for behavior management strategies

A program of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

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The Brain Injury Association of New York State
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