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I have a 13-year-old son who has difficulty with short term memory. He can only hold a few pieces of information in his mind at one time. Because of this his processing is slower and many times information does not make it to long term memory. Is there anything I can do to help him?

Difficulties with short term memory are very common for students with learning disabilities or cognitive delays. Several strategies can be helpful for students who struggle with short term memory. These articles on memory tips(opens in a new window) and strategies(opens in a new window) for students may provide some helpful ideas. While many of the suggestions in the articles are for low-tech solutions to memory issues, there are also several wonderful higher tech solutions that may work out well for your son.

For example, it can be helpful for students to represent information graphically or visually, by creating idea maps, word webs, charts, graphic organizers or drawings to help them remember information. A variety of software tools are available that can help students do this. Software graphic organizers help students create graphic organizers and outlines in preparation for writing. Organizing his notes in this way may help your son remember the information more easily.

Another tool, Evernote(opens in a new window), allows users to copy and paste information from websites, upload photos, create diagrams, record audio notes and add comments and tags to information they find. Users can then access their notes on their computer, cell phone or handheld device. Organizational tools can help your son connect and categorize new information making it easier to remember. Other organizational tools can be found by searching the TechMatrix by the learning support Means to Organize and Plan(opens in a new window).

Another strategy that can be helpful for students who struggle with short term memory is to give them opportunities for frequent practice and skill building. This can be especially helpful in math class, where information retrieval is a key element for success. You can find a variety of math practice tools by searching the TechMatrix (opens in a new window) by Subject Area: Math and Learning Support: Practice and reinforcement activities. It can also be helpful to work with your son’s teachers and see if they can help create study guides and graphic organizers in advance of lessons, so that your son knows which information will be most important and can focus on that.

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