Help a Child with Slow Processing Speed Succeed at Work and School

Parents often ask how they can help children with slow processing speed succeed at work and school. Some parents of kids with slow processing speed may begin to wonder early on if their very young child will ever be able to secure a good job or attend college. Unfortunately, voicing these fears aloud can lead children with slow processing speed to develop a shoddy sense of self-esteem. Not only do they hear their parents’ and teachers’ disappointment in their productivity, it sets them up for negative self-talk as they get older and begin to observe their cognitive differences.

Many kids with slow processing speed also struggle with attention, which can further exacerbate learning and self-esteem issues. Kids with slow processing speed typically begin to recognize that they are not keeping up with their peers in early elementary school, and by the time they enter middle school can refer to themselves as stupid or dumb compared to their peers. As a result, they may not recognize personal areas of strength that are not impacted by slow processing speed and feel like failures in a world in which going fast often appears to be more important than doing well. However, with appropriate accommodations, strategies, and understanding of their personal strengths, high school students with slow processing speed can be very successful in college and future jobs.

Accommodations and adjustments for slow processing speed may be granted in a college setting but are not typically provided in a professional environment. Bosses do not give their workers more time to complete an assignment because they had a 504 plan in high school. Individuals do not receive raises for not keeping up with the pace of work that is expected of them. People with slow processing speed who find themselves in such jobs can experience ongoing stress and negative feedback and may wish to find alternative vocations.

Believe it or not, there are many activities and jobs that play to the strengths of individuals with slow processing speed. Some of these  might require careful analysis, while others might involve trial-and-error iteration of ideas. Jobs where interpersonal relationships and teamwork are core values could be an ideal match for some individuals with slow processing speed.

We recently compiled a short list of jobs and fields of work suitable to kids with slow processing speed when they enter the workforce. This post details a few more careers to consider for children with slow processing speed, with detailed explanations of what makes them a good fit for your child with slow processing speed:

Special Education Teachers or Paraprofessional Educators – Special education teachers often work with kids who have learning, attention, and processing-speed difficulties. Empathy and understanding of what is required to be successful in school when faced with a learning disability is a powerful asset for these teachers. Paraprofessional educators are classroom aides who assist teachers in classroom activities or work directly with students. Paraprofessionals may work exclusively with students with disabilities to provide needed accommodations and coaching within the classroom setting. This career utilizes skills such as patience and repetition without the demands of curriculum or lesson development.

Animal Care Professionals – This could include anything from a veterinarian to a manager of an animal shelter. Individuals who work at animal shelters help to care for animals who are lost, stray, sick or abandoned. This job may be good for individuals who process information slowly, because working at an animal shelter requires a lot of patience and care. Vets are known for their caring and compassion, not for their speed of work; those that choose to work at a slower pace simply bill for fewer hours of care.

Elderly Care Specialists – Work in the elderly care field or a nursing center can be a rewarding, involving interacting with patients and their families to coordinate care. An elderly aide creates and hosts activities for elderly patients that encourage socialization, relaxation, entertainment, and daily life skills. An activity aide needs skills such as patience, nurturing, and careful planning, and slower processing speed is not problematic.

Accountants – Accountants are practitioners who deal with monetary investments or taxes. This job is an important one in every sort of company and requires orientation to detail, organization, and thoroughness. This may appeal to those who are studious and enjoy working with numbers and generally independently. People with slower processing speed would be ideally suited to this job due to the slow pace and thoroughness required.

Furniture restorers – People who do furniture restoration breathe new life into old furniture to give it an updated look or restore antique pieces. This may appeal to those who are creative, enjoy working with their hands, and are very thorough and patient. As with carpentry, this job is less about speed and more about quality.

Does your child with slow processing speed have interests and hobbies that might speak to their future job or career? Do you have questions about slow processing speed at school or at work? Talk to us in the comments below or come join the conversation on Facebook!



Featured image: Flickr user US Department of Agriculture

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