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Information Processing Disorders

— National Center for Learning Disabilities
Updated on Dec 14, 2009

What is Information Processing?

Sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch are all ways the body collects information. But the act of using those senses is only the first step towards being able to use the data they've collected. The information the body collects is sent to the brain which recognizes it, understands it, responds to it and stores it; repeating this pattern hundreds and even thousands of times each day. Information processing makes it possible for a person to complete all the tasks that are required in a given day, from brushing teeth to grocery shopping to watching TV.

While there are several different and often overlapping types of information processing, two important groups are:

Visual Processing

  • Visual Discrimination
  • Visual Sequencing
  • Visual Memory
  • Visual Motor Processing
  • Visual Closure
  • Spatial Relationships

Auditory Processing

  • Auditory Discrimination
  • Auditory Memory
  • Auditory Sequencing

What is an Information Processing Disorder?

An information processing disorder is a deficiency in a person's ability to effectively use the information the senses have gathered. It is NOT the result of hearing loss, impaired vision, an attention deficit disorder or any kind of intellectual or cognitive deficit.

Though information processing disorders are often not named as specific types of learning disabilities, they are seen in many individuals with learning disabilities and can often help explain why a person is having trouble with learning and performance. The inability to process information efficiently can lead to frustration, low self-esteem and social withdrawal, especially with speech/language impairments.

Many people experience problems with learning and behavior occasionally, but if a person consistently displays difficulties with these tasks over time, testing for information processing disorders by trained professionals should be considered.

For a more detailed explanation of Visual Processing Disorders, please see:
Visual Processing Disorders - Challenges & Strategies by Age Group
Visual Processing Disorders - In Detail

For a more detailed explanation of Auditory Processing Disorders, please see:
Auditory Processing Disorders - Challenges & Strategies by Age Group
Auditory Processing Disorders - In Detail

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