Jul 182014

Do you want to improve your child’s attention, executive functioning, processing speed, and working memory?

Processing Speed and Working Memory Training can help your child overcome cognitive issues at home.

Aside from the fact that research shows cognitive enhancement programs improve a child’s processing speed, attention, working memory, etc., helping your child at home brings good results because:

1) At home, your child can be given adequate time to process information and think at his or her own processing speed. Working with your child at home can eliminate interference with the memory storage process that takes longer in a child with learning disabilities.

2) You can implement Brain-Based Learning, Remediation, and Cognitive Enhancement programs that are designed to help kids with learning disabilities overcome some of their difficulties with maintaining attention, short-term memory, processing speed, planning, sequencing, and self-monitoring.

Diagnoses that often accompany cognitive function difficulties are ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, and Executive Dysfunction (or executive functioning disorder). While these disabilities are more pervasive on a child’s ability to function, there are brain training programs that help a child improve functioning in attention, memory, speed, organization skills, planning, sequencing, etc.

The brain-based processing and working memory training programs are usually intense, but also afford noticeable results. Some programs are therapy-based requiring professional administration, and others can be used at home.

Cognitive Enhancement Programs:

The listing of these programs is not an endorsement for them, and they appear in no particular order.  The programs below may or may not meet your child’s needs, so please research your options before picking the best program for your child.

**IQ Mind Brain Memory Focus Concentration Improvement Smarter Success – Be Smarter, Improve Your IQ, Memory, Focus, Concentration, Study Skills, Creativity, Learn To Speed Read.

**BrainBuilder from Advanced Brain – Increases auditory and visual sequential processing capacities. Increases the number of pieces of information that you can sequentially receive, hold, process, use and recall in short-term working memory without straining or using mental “tricks.” As the pathways of the brain’s neural network proliferate and deepen, so will the ability to absorb and process information more quickly and easily. The minimum recommended age is 7, and there is a free trial available on the website. This is a “monthly fee” site.

**Brainware Safari – This site is specifically designed for children, and kids with learning disabilities will find this cognitive enhancement program among the most enjoyable of programs.  Brainware Safari works in 41 Cognitive Skills across 6 cognitive areas including attention, memory, reasoning, visual processing, sensory integration, and auditory processing. While BrainBuilder above is more appropriate for pre-teens and teens, Brainware Safari is a clear winner for younger children, although it can appeal to kids of any age.

**Lexia Learning’s CrossTrainer – “The Lexia Cross-Trainer Suite is designed to improve cognitive development in learners ages 7 to adult. The software helps learning disabled, special needs, and mainstream students strengthen their thinking, memory, and problem-solving abilities, improving performance across subjects as varied as reading, math, science, and social studies.” Click

**Audiblox – Program which is administered by the parent/provider, requires a commitment to consistent use, and helps with many EF issues.

**Earobics – Computer-based program that is easily used on a daily basis; game play format that children enjoy, increases cognitive skills, but is geared more towards children.

**LearningRx (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) – The LearningRx is a program purchased through a tutor-provider relationship. It is expensive, but comes highly recommended.

**Brain Gym – Simple program to use at home; enhances learning. “Brain Gym is a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in ALL areas. Brain Gym includes 26 easy and enjoyable targeted activities that integrate body and mind to bring about rapid and often dramatic improvements in: concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more.”

One means of developing your child’s memory skills is the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s “Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization” – This program was sent to us for review and it appears to be fabulous for children with learning difficulties in many ways. The memory work will help strengthen memory and recall skills for children with memory deficits. The only way to strengthen memory skills is to practice them! The recitation component will also help children with speech articulation difficulties.

The main premise behind this program is to give children a ready source for varied and sophisticated usage of language skills in writing. If a child has word usage committed to memory, he can use that information when writing his own original works. Given the program’s format, you’ll find you can substitute any works of poetry in a similar process of memorization and recitation.  Whether using your own poems, or those provided with the program, “Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization” seems like a great way to practice and improve memorization and recall.

One of the most widely used programs that includes working memory training is **Interactive Metronome, which is a professionally provided, therapy based program. The IM program provides a structured, goal-oriented process that challenges the patient to synchronize a range of hand and foot exercises to a precise computer-generated reference tone heard through headphones. The patient attempts to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor actions.

Over the course of the treatment, patients learn to: focus and attend for longer periods of time, increase physical endurance and stamina, filter out internal and external distractions, improve ability to monitor mental and physical actions as they are occurring, and progressively improve performance.” This program is administered by an IM provider with training.

A fun program you can use at home for working memory training, and one of the most FUN means of helping a child with concentration and timing, is **Dance, Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for the PlayStation2 with DancepadWorking Memory Training. This is actually a ‘game’, but it involves many of the same elements as other brain-based programs including concentration, planning, sequencing, timing, speed, etc. I believe this program will become a key player in remediation in the near future. Parents have begun using the program

Dance, Dance Revolution also comes in versions for the XBox and Gamecube, and there are many other Dance, Dance Revolution products available. DDR is a game “played” with a dance pad that registers footwork by the player. This game can help with concentration and timing, much like Interactive Metronome, because the play must take the dance steps in the specified order within a short timeframe. If the step is too early or too late, it doesn’t count.

The game can be played at different speeds, allowing a child to start out slowly and work progressively towards speed. DDR is a great concentration & timing game, and just like Interactive Metronome, patients learn to: “focus and attend for longer periods of time, increase physical endurance and stamina, filter out internal and external distractions, improve ability to monitor mental and physical actions as they are occurring, and progressively improve performance.” DDR allows an ADHD child to burn extra energy which also enhances concentration.

There are other cognitive enhancement programs designed to increase skills such as auditory processing, visual discrimination, processing speed, phonological awareness, planning, sequencing, attention to detail, etc. By increasing a child’s functioning in any cognitive skill area, his overall level of academic achievement can be enhanced.

These types of processing, attention, and working memory training programs are often overlooked in when developing an educational program, yet the gains made through these programs can create significant gains across all academic subjects. Some programs require more parent involvement, and some can be used by the child without significant adult assistance.

When selecting the most appropriate cognitive or working memory training program for your child, consider how much time and interaction you can commit. It helps to be realistic about how well you can work one-on-one with your child, how well your child works alone, and whether an outside provider will have an easier time gaining cooperation when working with your child.

To get the most out of the cognitive or working memory training program you choose, try to match the program to your child’s abilities and needs. There is no sense in purchasing a program your child can’t or won’t use.

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