When I’m trying to get my two-year-old out the door and in the car, it is easy to become frustrated when she just won’t process language quickly enough. “Please sit down, let’s get on your shoes… Tay, sit down… no, I know Daddy went out the other door… please, sit down… yes, we’ll go out the garage door… sit down… Taylor!”
This is a typical scenario for any toddler, as their little brains are learning to process all around them, sometimes everything at the same time. Which includes the language we use as parents. For a little child, slowing our speech and using fewer words and more gestures ~ and LOTS of patience ~ can help them understand what we expect of them. But for some older children, slow processing of the world around them remains a significant speed bump to their learning.
There are a lot of different ways we understand our world. And there are a lot of different brains out there which understand this world in different ways. In the end, it’s a good thing. While I can’t wrap my brain around black holes and scientific mysteries, there are folks who can. It isn’t a coincidence that many CEOs have attention deficit difficulties. Their brains allow them to absorb information quickly, come up with new ideas quickly, and have the energy to keep going in many different directions. They just need a really good VP (or secretary) to help them keep the details in order.
When we talk about language processing problems, however, we are often looking at students in school who are having difficulty understanding the information in their classrooms (or at home) quickly enough to be successful. Think about a third grade classroom. There is a lot going on. The teacher has just finished talking about the life cycle of a plant. Now, the teacher is giving instructions (verbally) about what tasks to complete, the worksheet in front of the child contains written directions and written questions for them to complete. There may be pictures to help the child decipher the assignment, but the majority of the information presented during those 15 minutes comes verbally.
If your child is struggling to understand all that he needs to in the classroom, there are a myriad of accommodations and strategies that can be implemented to help him. There are also ways to support language processing at home. After the list of task-specific strategies and homework accommodations, one of my favorite suggestions for parents is to play a game. Many games work on quick processing skills, especially language processing skills. Now, most of these games require some parent involvement, at least for younger children. But older children can play with siblings, and in the end, everyone has fun! So use this summer “leisure” time for games, and lots of them!
Here are my favorites and the skills they build:
-Apples to Apples (vocabulary development, metalinguistic strategies)
-Battleship (active listening, visual patterning, integration)
-Bopit (integration, vigilance)
-Catch Phrase (integration, vocabulary development, output)
-Last Word (integration, vocabulary development, output)
-Marco Polo (localization, binaural interaction)
-Muscial Chairs (vigilance)
-Password (vocabulary building, metalinguistic skills)
-Read My Lips (lipreading/speechreading)
-Red Light-Green Light (vigilance, active listening)
-Rummikub (patterning, problem solving, integration)
-Scattergories (vocabulary building, metalinguistic strategies)
-Scrabble (integration, linguistic skills, visual patterning)
-Simon Says (vigilance, active listening)
-Taboo (vocabulary building, metalinguistic strategies)
-Telephone game (attention, active listening, discrimination)
-Twister (integration, critical listening)