How Does A Low Processing Speed Score Affect My Child?



Question: My 16 year old son has just had an evaluation and he was given the following scores on the test: 
 PRI 132, VCI 130, WMI 110, PSI 76
. I don’t understand how exactly this affects him, though I do notice he is a bit slow on some activities. How does the combination of the factors above translate into his abilities?

My son also can be difficult to deal with. He often does not like to work on any work assigned to him (It’s difficult to get him to do homework), which causes him to sometimes not hand in homework assignments. He is also quite disorganized, and procrastinates often. Socially, he is withdrawn and shy, even with people he knows.  He does have a few friends, and he can be lively around them. I wouldn’t say he has any deficits in communication, as he can still communicate well, and I think he just does not prefer to communicate or is shy.

 Answer: Your child has developed a strong vocabulary and is easily able to explain his understanding of socially based concepts. Your child’ ability to quickly and efficiently process auditory information, especially verbal information, is excellent. His ability to perform visual spatial problem solving is also very strong.

However, while your child demonstrates well-developed cognitive skills his ability to process information at the level his reasoning skills suggest is compromised by several factors present in testing. First, your child’s ability to read and synthesize material in a timely manner may be affected by his weakness in visual-discrimination and processing speed. His weak processing speed impacts his ability to process visual information as quickly as his strong cognitive skills suggest. This can impact his ability to read, write and perform math problem quickly.

Taken together, the significant discrepancy  between your child’ Verbal Comprehension and his Processing Speed Indexes; along with the differences between Perceptual Organization and Working Memory Indexes and Processing Speed Index, reflects a need for extended time on academic tasks and tests. Therefore, it is recommended that your child be granted extended time on all assignments and tests, including standardized testing such as the SAT and ACT. Furthermore, Your child’s current profile confirms he has  a visual perceptual and visual motor processing deficit and accommodations are warranted to allow your child additional time, or a reduction in work on all academic tasks.

The issue of your son’s lack of desire to communicate could be due to many reasons. There is a great book out called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking 
by Susan Cain. This might be a good book for you to read to determine if your son is an introvert, which may explain his lack of interaction with people around him.

The issue of his disorganization and difficulty completing homework may be due to weak executive functioning skills. You can learn more about executive functioning at


• It is recommended that the results of his evaluation be shared with your child so he may understand his profile of strengths and weaknesses and can adjust his learning and study strategies accordingly.

• Based upon your child’s status as a student with a Learning Disability, he should be provided the following accommodations:

  • Extra time on tests (at least 50%)
  • Extended time (at least 50%) on all standardized tests including ACT, SAT and AP tests

Improve your child’s Working Memory, Attention and Executive Functioning Skills

The CogMed program is recommended to build your child’s working memory, which will help support his attention processing.

• A program designed to improve your child’s executive functioning skills (such as the K & M Center Executive Functioning Program) is recommended.

• A program designed to increase your child’s cognitive flexibility is also recommended (such as the K & M Flexible Thinking Program)

• Teach your child to use self-talk to organize his learning and performance strategies and to focus his attention on tasks

• Build strategies to help your child analyze, prioritize, and execute specific steps in a given assignment

• Break down tasks and follows the order checking work along the way

• Teach strategies to increase engagement


• Encourage pre-writing activities such as brainstorming and outlining

• Use of Inspiration ( and Dragon Speak Naturally ( to help him organize his thoughts and share them.

• Re-Train the Brain ( can help fine motor skills to make writing easier.

Visual-Perceptual Strategies

• Use graphic organizers to depict information visually and increase his retention of ideas.

• Note-taking techniques that will present and summarize heard information visually.

• Practice exercises to sharpen his ability to attend to visual detail and to express similarities and differences between images.

Processing Speed

• Allow extra time for tests, usually time and a half

• Provide extra time for your child to complete in-class assignments

• Train your child in time management techniques to become aware of the time that tasks take.

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