【Ｕ】 加工 (Processing)
Processing is the topic for this week. I have had a lot of time to think about this over the course of the past week and have come to realize that I take processing for granted so often that I wonder just how much the students I work with really miss on a day to day basis. If we really stop and think about processing and the great deal of effort it takes it is a wonder that we are able to have such rapid fire exchanges.
For our children on the spectrum this rapid fire process is much slower. For many what would take a neuro-typical child 5 seconds to process might take a child on the spectrum upwards of 30-60 seconds and then they may not even process the whole message. For others it may take as many as 5 minutes and for those in the extreme it may be as long as 20 minutes. Now think about that in the context of our ever changing world and especially in the context of school.
Now I’m not putting down schools as there is a ton of information that needs to be taught in a day, but would a little processing time hurt anyone? Have you ever been in a classroom when the teacher is asking questions? The scenario usually goes something like this – The teacher asks a question and within 5-10 seconds he/she is calling on a student to answer. Now if you are a slow processor will you ever get a chance to answer or will your answer most often be wrong if you by some chance just randomly get called upon. Interestingly enough it isn’t just our students on the spectrum that need more processing time. Even the children who are quick to answer may actually come up with more thoughtful answers given a little more time to think and process. Interestingly I have been reading a book about creative intelligence lately and processing time is directly tied to a person’s ability to respond creatively. The thing is that those people who are slow processor may actually have some of the most creative answers/solutions to questions/problems if given the chance to respond.
I work with several children both at school and at Horizons that are very slow processors. You can “see” the wheels turning in some kids it is that slow. Since I have been thinking a lot more about processing lately I have really been trying to slow myself down and consciously give these children the time they need to process what I have said. You would be amazed at the results. They do actually know what you want them to do or they can come up with a thoughtful response to my comments.
Think about how frustrating it must be to always be several steps behind. It is no wonder that our children’s responses often don’t seem to make sense or that they retreat into echolalia. Hey I know the rules are that when someone asks me a question I need to give a response whether it makes sense or not and I need to hurry because they aren’t going to wait. I can also use echolalia as a way to cope with not being able to process rapidly and then they will just give up and not ask me anything else.
Now there is what I would call “good” echolalia and we all do it from time to time. We all use “good” echolalia to help us process we might just not do it out loud. You can tell the difference. The difference is in the quality of good echolalia and it is being used to help process what has just been said. You don’t have to admit it to anyone but yourself, but you know you do this. We often call this self-talk and it is our brains way of making sense of the world. The amazing thing is that I see children on the spectrum’s processing speed increase as they begin to use this type of processing. So modeling self-talk not only helps with self awareness, but also with processing.
So how do we help our children with processing? Slow down, slow down, slow down. Give your child time to process. A good way to do this is to slowly count to ten in your head after making a comment to give your child time to process what you have said. If they don’t respond after this you can try a prompt. My challenge to you over the next week is to try slowing down and providing some processing time. I think you’ll be surprised at the responses you get.
Talk to you next week,