Skip to main content

Understanding Processing Deficits

Expressive language, visual memory—these and a dozen other difficulties are processing deficits. These affect how people understand information from other people. To help your students, learn about processing deficits and the strategies that will help each one.

Processing deficits interfere with the way students understand the information presented to them. These deficits can manifest themselves in any one of several categories. To help students get the most out of class time, the chart below outlines common struggles these students experience and teaching strategies that will help them learn.

Processing Deficits Manifestations Strategies
Auditory Sequencing Confusion with number sequences, lists or lists of directions. Hearing ninety-four instead of forty-nine. Provide written instructions as reinforcement of oral instruction. Use of visuals with lectures.
Auditory Memory Difficulty remembering what was heard, difficulty remembering important items from a lecture. Spells poorly. Provide written instruction to look back on. Don’t penalize spelling, just correct. Provide basic outlines of what is being presented.
Visual Sequencing Problems in using a separate answer sheet. Loses place easily. Problems with reading. Reversing or misreading numbers of letters. Reading words incorrectly. Difficulty with equations. Read directions aloud. Provide oral instruction. Write on the overhead. Color code things written down. When writing questions on the board, change color every other question.
Visual Memory Difficulty remembering what was seen. Reading comprehension. Difficulty with math equations. Poor recall of information. Provide handouts that are clearly written. Provide oral instruction.
Dysgraphia Inability to form letters correctly-students cannot read their own writing. Oral tests. Tapes projects.
Visual Motor Integration Mechanical problems in test taking. Difficulty copying from board or book. Spaces poorly. Poor written work. Unorganized. Allow use of computer. Tape recorder for lectures. Substitute oral reports. Provide individual written outlines so there are fewer steps to process. In math or science require answers only for calculations. Use graph paper. Have “note check”. Provide note-buddy. Lower standards for acceptable writing.
Auditory Discrimination Often seems to misunderstand. Trouble telling differences between similar sounds or words-seventeen for seventy. Seems to hear but not to listen. Written lectures to follow. Talk at a slower pace. Give one task at a time.
Auditory Figure Ground Trouble hearing sounds over background noises. Sit student near you.
Visual Figure Ground Trouble seeing an image within competing background. Picking one line of print from another while reading. Using an index card or marker when reading- to blot out distraction of other words.
Visual Discrimination Seeing the difference between two similar objects Clearly spacing words/problems on a page.
Spatial Orientation Loses materials. Late to class. Difficulty with oral reading. Unorganized homework. Difficulty judging time. Provide more time for assignments or shorten them. Encourage silent reading. Provide less reading material and more reading time. Provide help in organization.
Expressive Language Difficulty expressing themselves. May sound “cynical”. Provide opportunities for written reports. Allow adequate time to respond to questions.
Receptive Language Appears to be “not listening”. Incomplete work. Have students repeat directions back to you for understanding.
Organization Incomplete assignments. Unorganized notebook/notes. Provide course syllabus. Provide calendar with weekly plan, include homework. Provide written detailed explanation for projects. For long term projects - have periodic checks (graded or non-graded). Show by example (ready made notebook).
Back to Top