Strategies for Speed of Mental Processing
The following strategies are to be used within an instructional design for students with TBI. The effectiveness of each strategy should be evaluated for each student.
- Shorten the length of communications to the student; focus on the essentials.
- Give time after a long direction or between parts of a direction for the student to digest what you have said.
- If the child appears blank or is not doing what you have asked, repeat the main points. Do not elaborate or add details.
- Try not to pressure your student; do not urge her to "hurry up", or become exasperated. If you need something done quickly, better not to assign it.
- Waive all timed requirements on in-class assignments as well as on classroom tests. Apply for a waiver of time limit on standardized tests. Schedule extra time routinely for the student to finish projects during the school day (for example, a study hall period), to prevent having the student finishing work during lunch or recess or bringing it home.
- Expect the student to take longer to do things. Do not penalize the student for this need by making him miss out on other activities. ("You can finish this during recess"), feel like a burden to the class ("We can go onto reading after Jack is finished"), or have a desk filled with half-finished projects.
- Be aware that children with a slow rate of mental processing often perform much better if they do not have to do several activities at the same time. When possible, give the student an outline of course lectures and copies of slides to avoid taking notes and listening to lecture material at the same time.
- Repeat and rephrase directions and important information.
- Pause more often in lectures.
- Provide response time when asking the child a question. Directly explain to other students that the student knows the answer and simply needs time to be able to share the knowledge. Students are quickly impressed when they realize this is true.
- Provide a make-up period at the end of the day.
- Allow the child to tape record answers and hand in the tape.
- Allow the use of calculators for in-class math computations.
- Give examinations that require simple marking rather than extensive writing.
- Provide extra time for the child to complete examinations, or give examinations in parts.
- Allow extra time for the student to discuss and explain.
- Avoid asking too many questions.
Colorado Department of Education. (2001). Brain injury: A Manual for Educators.
Szekeres, S.F. Meserve, N.F. (1997). Appendix 18-2: Modifying materials, instruction, and the learning environment to meet individual needs. In M. Ylvisaker (Ed.),Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation(pp. 411-414). Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Kentucky Department of Education. Technical Assistance Manual on Brain Injury.