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Difficulties with Information Processing

Difficulties with Information Processing - adjustments to practice 

Information Processing refers to the way we handle information. The information the body collects is sent to the brain which recognises it, understands it, responds to it and stores it; repeating this pattern hundreds and even thousands of times each day. Information Processing makes it possible for a person to complete all the tasks that are required in a given day, from brushing teeth to grocery shopping to watching TV.

Difficulties with Information Processing are not defined as:

  • the result of hearing loss;
  • the result of impaired vision;
  • an Attention Deficit Disorder or any kind of intellectual or cognitive deficit.

However, these difficulties are often seen in many individuals with Learning Disabilities and can often help to explain why a person is having trouble with learning and performance. The inability to process information efficiently can lead to frustration, low self-esteem and social withdrawal, especially with speech/language impairments.

Visual Processing Disorders

  • Visual Processing Disorders are also known as Visual Perceptual Processing Disorders.
  • They affect how the brain perceives and processes what the eye sees.
  • These disorders can occur without impaired vision of any kind.
  • Like all Learning Disabilities, Visual Processing Disorders can be a lifelong challenge.
  • People with Visual Processing Disorders have problems with the way they interpret information, but what others will notice in people with these disorders is the behaviour that happens after the difficulties occur.

Common Difficulties with Visual Processing Disorders

  • Accurately identifying information from pictures, charts, graphs, maps, etc.
  • Organising information from different sources into one cohesive document.
  • Finding specific information on a printed page (for example, getting a number out of the phone book).
  • Remembering directions to a location.

Auditory Processing Disorders

  • Auditory Processing Disorders are often referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD).
  • Auditory Processing Disorders can occur without any kind of hearing loss.
  • Auditory Processing Disorders affect how the brain perceives and processes what the ear hears.
  • Like all Learning Disabilities, Auditory Processing Disorders can be a lifelong challenge.
  • Many of the difficulties that are experienced by people with Auditory Processing Disorders are also common to people with Attention Deficit Disorders.
  • Auditory Processing Disorders may run in families.
  • Auditory Processing Disorders can affect a person's ability to interact socially.

Common Difficulties with Auditory Processing Disorders include:

  • Talks louder than necessary;
  • Difficulties remembering a list or sequence;
  • Often needs words or sentences repeated;
  • Poor ability to memorise information learned by listening;
  • Interprets words too literally;
  • Difficulties hearing clearly in noisy environments.

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Difficulties with Information Processing - adjustments to practice

These strategies are suggestions for inclusive teaching and training. This list should not be considered exhaustive and it is important to remember that all learners are individuals, and good practice for one person may not necessarily be good practice for another. If you have any good practice that you would like to add to this list, please email your suggestions to

Environmental Factors

  • Provide a quiet area to allow learners to process information quietly.
  • Eliminate background noise to enable those with Auditory Processing Disorders to hear clearly.

Learning Resources

  • Point out important information by using handouts, writing on the board or using transparencies.
  • Present information in an organised manner by showing a logical sequence to concepts and skills.
  • Colour code important information.
  • Before writing letters or essays, create an outline to simplify and organise ideas.

Course Delivery

  • Use literal language and be very precise about meanings.
  • Use carefully worded, unambiguous questions to elicit and test learning.
  • Explain tasks clearly and unambiguously. Give directions one at a time and go through each step. Check the learner's understanding of the task by asking them to explain it back to you in stages where necessary.
  • Provide a framework with structured questions to separate and prioritise main points.
  • Show learners how to categorise (chunk) related information e.g. by presenting information in categories.
  • Bring to mind relevant prior learning e.g. review a previous day's lesson, have a discussion about previously covered content.
  • Gain the learner's attention e.g. use cues to signal when you are ready to begin, move around the classroom and use voice inflections.
  • Allow learners extra time to formulate responses.
  • Provide opportunities for learners to elaborate on new information, perhaps by connecting the information to something already known.
  • Provide extra time after group sessions to check that the content has been understood.

General Guidance

  • Encourage learners to ask for help - show that it is acceptable and not a sign of failure.


Adjustments for Assessments taken under Examination Conditions

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Information Processing

ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, Hearing Impairments, Learning Disabilities

Group Work Activities, Literacy Related Activities, Numeracy Related Activities, Practical Activities, Visual Activities, e-Learning/ICT Activities
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