Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills, supported by specific neural networks or circuits, that we need to carry out various tasks. It is well established that deficits in various cognitive abilities can lead to academic underperformance. A single cognitive deficit may cause delays in academic skills acquisition across several content areas.
Some cognitive skills that are important for learning are:
- Fluid reasoning (i.e. ability to form concepts and solve novel problems)
- Working memory (i.e. ability to hold information in mind and manipulate it)
- Processing speed (i.e. ability to perform tasks quickly and accurately)
- Attention and executive functioning (e.g. inhibition of automatic responses, self-monitoring, self-regulation, planning, organization)
- Language (e.g. word finding, rapid naming, following directions, articulation, phonological processing, idea generation)
- Memory and learning (e.g. list learning, memory for designs, face recognition, story memory)
- Sensorimotor (e.g. finger dexterity, motor speed, graphomotor speed and accuracy)
- Social perception (e.g. affect recognition, comprehension of others’ perspectives, intentions, and beliefs)
- Visuospatial processing (e.g. judging line orientation, visuomotor/constructional ability, design copying, solving patterns and puzzles, route finding)
Though many people believe that cognitive abilities are innate, fixed, and unchanging, in fact, they can be trained and improved with cognitive remediation therapy. Cognitive remediation seeks to reduce cognitive deficits by improving skills that are weak and by developing strength-based compensatory strategies. Cognitive remediation has been shown to benefit children with learning disorders and related problems.
Through working on homework assignments in session, I help children improve cognitive skills and problem-solving strategies that help them achieve success in school. Since treatment is skill-based rather than content-based, there is a greater likelihood that these skills will generalize to other situations at a later date.