ADHD: Children with ADHD are 4x more likely to have visual working memory problems compared to peers without attention problems.

As the lead on a government-funded project, I found that this has serious impact on their learning. As a result of poor working memory, students with ADHD struggle in all areas of learning. They can also find it difficult to cope with simple tasks in the classroom, such as following instructions, keeping track of where they need to be, and remembering to do their homework. They also have poor inhibition, the ability to control impulsive behavior, thoughts, and speech.

AUTISM: In the classroom, students with autism might struggle because they don’t know what to focus on.

Because Autism is a spectrum condition, the Working Memory profile can vary. I worked with high functioning individuals and found that the majority did not have working memory deficits, especially in visual-spatial tasks. However, students with autism can find it distracting to shift their visual attention from the board to the teacher talking and back to the board again. As a result, it can be hard for them to remember the lesson even if it is presented visually. Verbal memory skills in students with autism can vary. Some autistic students have above average verbal memory, while others struggle.

DYSLEXIA: Children with dyslexia have poor verbal working memory

Learning to read relies on working memory. Children have to match each letter with the correct sound, put it together, and remember it for future use. The process of keeping multiple sounds and letters active is often too difficult for many children with dyslexia because they have poor auditory working memory. This means that they struggle to hold all the sound units in their head, which makes it hard for them to read.

WORKING MEMORY TRAINING: Working Memory can be trained!

Students with learning difficulties were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Half of the students trained with Jungle Memory (Training group), while the other half received extra tutoring (Active Control).

Pre Training: I measured their working memory, IQ, and grades. Students in the Training and Active Control were at the same level. This is important because it means that any improvements the student makes is the result of the training and not because they started at different levels.

Post Training: The Training group showed improvements in IQ, working memory, and most importantly, in grades. The increase in their grades was the equivalent of a C to a B, and a B to an A in just 8 weeks!