Top tips for supporting poor Working Memory

Top tips for supporting Working Memory

So, now you know that Working Memory is a big issue for most people who are Neurodiverse, what can you do to help? 

Knowing that someone will find it harder than average to listen and to hold onto information and then manipulate numbers or words or ideas in their heads, there are many ways to mitigate this issue, and none of them are particularly complicated. Some strategies are done by adding in extra senses to support poor Working Memory and bring down the Cognitive Load or by giving them extra time to think. As the brain can learn and change, what we call Neuroplasticity, we can add strategies that help improve the Working Memory too. 

A few minor adjustments will make so much difference to that child you are teaching or colleague or client you are working with. 

  • Lessen the Cognitive Load by adding in the extra senses. Give them the information written down rather than just speaking to them. If it doesn’t need to be done entirely aurally, don’t do it that way! 
  • Allow them to make notes and jottings as they go. 
  • Give them a longer time to do the task and take off the timed pressure to not become flustered. 
  • Give spoken information in small chunks and back up any essential information in writing. 
  • Encourage them to adopt active listening skills such as paraphrasing e.g. ‘So what you’ve asked me to do is… is that right?’
  • For children, introduce brain training exercises that are low pressure and will help improve basic Working Memory with practice over time. These can be on apps or as real-life games. 

If it is you who have Working Memory issues, you may also try to: 

  • Use a digital recorder that links to speech to text software to record information rather than take notes. This also allows you to hear and understand as you listen rather than also trying to take notes. 
  • Cut down on multi-tasking as much as you can. Complete one short task and then move on to the next one. 
  • Use relaxation techniques to maximise mental stamina and help Working Memory and attention. 
  • Start to practice daily mindfulness, which will help with recall and help learn to tune out distractions by regulating sensory input. 

If you didn’t read my previous blog posts about Executive Functions click here

#executivefunction #neurodiversity #workingmemory #mathsanxiety

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