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ADHD and Processing Speed

Mother and daughter examine a flower

Processing speed refers to the rate at which we deal with information. This includes taking in new information and retrieving information we already know. Children with slower processing speed may have problems at home and in the classroom:

  • They may not catch all the instructions for completing a task.
  • They may be slow at copying down information.
  • They may be slow to retrieve information that they need.

Even though children with ADHD often seem to be "driven by a motor," studies show that they:

  • are often slow to complete tasks, especially if the tasks are demanding
  • have variable response speeds

Children with symptoms of inattention have especially slow and variable processing speeds.

For these reasons, children with ADHD may need extra support at home and at school, even if they are taking medication for ADHD.

Peter Chaban, MA, MEd

Rosemary Tannock, PhD