Does your child misplace things? Forget things? Lose things? They may need some IEP accommodations for working memory.
But you know what? We all do this. Have you ever gone to work in the morning and it was raining, so you brought an umbrella? Then in the afternoon, it was sunny so you left the umbrella at work.
Without the rain as a cue, you forgot your umbrella. Sometimes kids need cues too. But it’s how lost and found bins at schools just get filled with jackets and umbrellas. They were needed in the morning but not in the afternoon.
Working Memory is an important executive functioning skill that many kids struggle with. If a student has ADHD or another learning disability, they may struggle with working memory. This is an excellent video on executive functioning and working memory is included.
But, lack of working memory can be supported and it can be improved.
What is Working Memory?
Working memory is a cognitive system that temporarily holds and manipulates information needed for various cognitive tasks, such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. It involves the short-term storage and active processing of information.
Working memory is essential for tasks that require attention, concentration, and the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind for a brief period.
How many times do you see an adult with a phone number or short phrase written on their hand? That is their accommodation for working memory!
The working memory model typically includes three main components:
- Central Executive: Responsible for coordinating and managing the other components of working memory. It controls attention, selects information to process, and allocates resources.
- Visuospatial Sketchpad: Deals with visual and spatial information. It helps in temporarily storing and manipulating visual and spatial information.
- Phonological Loop: Handles auditory information, such as speech and sounds. It consists of the phonological store (for holding verbal information) and the articulatory control process (for rehearsing and refreshing verbal information).
Working memory is crucial for everyday cognitive activities, from following instructions to solving complex problems. It plays a significant role in learning and academic performance.
Individuals with strong working memory tend to excel in tasks that require mental manipulation of information.
As IEP teams become more knowledgeable and aware of things like executive function skills and working memory, more terms arise or become more popular.
One of those is auditory memory.
What is Auditory Memory?
Auditory memory refers to the ability to process, store, and recall information that is presented through auditory stimuli or sounds. It is a component of working memory, which involves the temporary holding and manipulation of information for cognitive tasks.
Auditory memory is particularly important for tasks that involve verbal instructions, language comprehension, and auditory learning.
There are two main aspects of auditory memory:
- Short-term Auditory Memory: This involves the temporary storage of auditory information for a brief period. For example, remembering a phone number just long enough to dial it.
- Long-term Auditory Memory: This refers to the more permanent storage of auditory information in the brain. It allows individuals to retain and recall information over an extended period, such as remembering a song or a spoken story.
Auditory memory is essential for various everyday activities, including listening and understanding spoken language, following verbal instructions, and participating in conversations.
Individuals with strong auditory memory skills are often better at processing and remembering information presented through auditory channels. Auditory memory can be trained and improved through activities that involve listening, repeating, and recalling auditory information.
Working Memory vs Auditory Memory
Working memory and auditory memory are related cognitive functions, but they involve different aspects of information processing.
- Working Memory:
- Definition: Working memory is a broader cognitive system that involves the temporary storage and manipulation of information for various cognitive tasks.
- Components: It consists of the central executive, visuospatial sketchpad, and phonological loop.
- Functions: Working memory is responsible for holding and processing information from various sensory modalities, including visual and auditory stimuli.
- Example: When solving a math problem, working memory helps in temporarily holding and manipulating the numbers and operations in your mind.
- Auditory Memory:
- Definition: Auditory memory specifically refers to the ability to process, store, and recall information presented through auditory stimuli or sounds.
- Aspect of Working Memory: Auditory memory is one component of working memory, specifically associated with the phonological loop in the working memory model.
- Functions: It is crucial for tasks involving verbal instructions, language comprehension, and remembering auditory information.
- Example: Remembering and repeating a series of spoken words or recalling a phone number that was heard.
Working memory is a broader cognitive system that encompasses various types of sensory information, including auditory stimuli. Auditory memory, on the other hand, specifically focuses on the processing and retention of information presented through sounds.
Working memory includes auditory memory as one of its components, along with visual and other sensory modalities.
Ok, are you with me so far?
Working Memory Skills
Before we move on to IEP accommodations for working memory, here is an overview of working memory skills.
And here are some working memory skills for adults or older students.
I also want to point out that it is quite common for a person to struggle with numerous executive functions at once. For example, “frequently late to work” is on the list above. Yes, that can be an indication of a lack of working memory skills. However, it is indicative of other executive functions as well, such as planning, prioritizing, sequencing, and others.
Printable List of Working Memory Interventions
I found this online and while it overlaps a lot of the EF skills, it’s a good resource.
And here is another PDF list of accommodations for working memory that is much more comprehensive. It’s labeled as IEP goals, but it’s not. It is accommodations and other information.
A final note: I have seen so many kids who are punished for forgetting homework. Punished for forgetting to bring something to school or home. Yes, to function in society, it’s important to learn working memory skills or have our own set of supports.
I cannot stress enough to work with the child and get their input and ideas and suggestions. I have seen too many kids just get downtrodden and deflated, because they are punished or grounded, over and over for something they are having trouble learning.
Most kids want to improve these skills and are not just being defiant by not bringing in homework. Or losing yet another jacket or water bottle.
Stick with your child and get your team on board with supports and activities that help your child learn these skills….not just continually being punished for not having them.