As a reading specialist, I frequently meet students with the ability to read (decode words), but struggle with comprehension skills.  For me, this is a red flag pointing to the possibility of a larger problem…a working memory deficit.

Often comprehension difficulties are just the tip of the iceberg for students.  Here is a list of other common challenges linked with working memory deficits.

  • Is inconsistent with remembering math facts.
  • Forgets previously learned spelling words
  • Poor handwriting, fine motor skills, written expression
  • Is easily distracted when working on or doing something that is not highly interesting.
  • Struggles with reading fluency and comprehension.
  • Copying from the board or from a book is laborious.
  • Fatigues easily when reading or completing other school work.
  • Difficulties with place-keeping errors – For example: repeating/or skipping letters, words or lines during reading and writing.
  • Incomplete recall – For example: forgetting a sequence of sounds to blend into a word, a sequence of letters to write a word, a sequence of events in a story for comprehension, sequence of directions from a teacher.
  • Has difficulty staying focused during cognitive demanding tasks but attends well when cognitive demands are highly interesting or minimal.
  • When called on, forgets what he/she was planning to say.
  • Has difficulty taking notes and listening at the same time.
  • Disorganized, frequently misplaces or loses belongings; desks, backpacks, lockers and rooms messy and chaotic.
  • Challenges with beginning and finishing homework without supervision