Imagine you’re rolling a ball through a tube. The ball goes in one side and out the other, right? OK, now imagine that your tube is longer. Or maybe it has a small bend in it. The ball still comes out the other side, it just may take a little bit longer. This is how thoughts can feel for teens with a slow processing disorder. The thought connects, but it just takes some extra time. Let’s take that metaphor once step further: now imagine that each time you’re trying to roll that ball through the longer tube, someone is standing beside you telling you to hurry up. Reminding you that everyone else’s ball is already through their tube. Asking why you aren’t done yet. It’s easy to imagine how that would become overwhelming and frustrating, right?
From the outside, it may look like your teen is just being “lazy” or not trying hard enough, but chances are, they are trying even harder than their typically processing peers. Teens with a slow processing disorder can deeply benefit from patience and support from their families.
How Can You Help Your Teen?
Research: The more you can understand about your teen’s slow processing disorder, the more you can help them. It is important to figure out how long it is actually taking your teen to process their thoughts. And if there are areas (ex. verbal, motor) that are more challenging than others. One way to better understand your teen’s processing challenges, is through an evaluation with their school system or private evaluator. This evaluation should include a measure of processing speed.
Help Your Teen Practice: We know that the brain is like a muscle. The more we practice something, the better we get! Help your teen practice simple skills like an after dinner routine: clear dishes, load the dishwasher, brush your teeth, then free time. Practicing this routine over and over again helps them remember the pattern so that they get into the habit of just doing it, without having to think about what each choice after dinner may be. When the routine runs more smoothly, your teen can feel more comfortable and confident.
Create Systems to be More Efficient: Getting out of the door in the morning can be hectic in any household. Maybe your teen is struggling to find their school books. Or maybe they’ve become distracted and completely forgot that they were supposed to be looking for the books in the first place. Creating a system, like helping them pack their bags the night before, can help the morning run more smoothly and start their day on a positive note.
Talk to Your Teen’s School: Communication between your family and your teen’s school is crucial. The right school can not only help you diagnose a slow processing disorder, but can also work with your teen to provide the correct interventions and support to help them achieve their goals in a supportive environment.
New Focus Academy Can Help
If your teen is still struggling with the challenges of their slow processing disorder, a therapeutic residential program like New Focus Academy can help. New Focus Academy believes all teens deserve the chance to lead productive, independent lives. Our therapeutic residential program and specialized school give adolescent boys (ages 12-18) struggling with social and functional challenges a chance to gain the necessary skills to live independently. Most children come to our school already frustrated and struggling in the classroom setting. The mission of New Focus Academy is to provide differentiated instruction in a supportive environment that promotes self-determination, resiliency, and excellence in learning. Our entire curriculum is focused on Small Class Sizes where Life Skills Development and Team Projects accelerate independence and relational skills. The New Focus team uses hands-on real-world instruction to assist the students in developing skills to become independent and self-sufficient adults who can positively contribute to their community. For more information, please call (844) 313-6749.