I’m Mom to a little one at home who is very bright. He understands things well, remembers everything with such clarity, and scores very high on assignments and even standardized tests. He is also so much slower than the other kids. It takes so much longer for him to get work done. He needs directions more than once. He can get so anxious about taking longer that he doesn’t finish at all. This became such an issue at school that he was given a whole panel of tests to see if he had a learning disability. The test revealed that he while he was capable of doing work that was above grade level, he also had a slow processing speed, therefore taking longer to complete work.
I was a teacher for a long time, and I’ve read a lot of IEP and 504 documents. I’ve followed accommodations and worked with parents and colleagues to ensure the success of many students. However, I have to admit, when I saw slow processing speed on the report, I really didn’t understand it so well.
If you’re in the classroom, it’s likely that you have students with slow processing speed. Perhaps you’re like I was, and you don’t really know exactly what that means. I’ve done a lot of digging, and below, I’ll break down some of what I’ve learned. If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend the book Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up, by Ellen Braaten and Brian Willoughby. I’ve read it a few times already as I search for a way to find the balance in our household, and it’s a great tool for understanding slow processing speed.
What is processing speed?
Processing speed is how fast a person can take in information, understand it, and act upon it. It can be auditory information, such as directions given in class. It can also be visual information, such as reading written instructions or doing math calculations. A person with a slower processing speed can have difficulties with auditory or visual information, or they could struggle with both. In addition, some kids will struggle with slower motor speed, meaning the physical act of writing just takes them longer. In the easiest terms possible, slow processing speed is how long it takes to perform a task.
This short video from Clay Center explains really well how slower processing speed can affect students.
Slow processing speed can also play a role in other learning issues such as ADHD, dyslexia, or auditory processing disorder.
Want to know how ADHD affects our family? Read this.
A child with slower processing speed may not be able to complete the same tasks as his or her classmates in the same amount of time. My son takes 45 minutes every night to do 20 minutes worth of homework. It has nothing to do with his understanding of the homework; it just has to do with how fast he actually can do it. I could ask him the questions out loud, and he would be able to do them in a matter of minutes, but to have to read them and then write them, he needs significantly more time than his classmates.
Processing speed also does not have anything to do with how smart a student actually is. Very bright children can have difficulty quickly processing information, but this does not mean they won’t correctly process it if given time.
Some things that might be difficult for students with slow processing speed:
1. Taking notes
Whether the student is expected to copy from the board or to take notes while the teacher is speaking, this can be more difficult for a student with slow processing speed. If writing challenges such as dysgraphia or dyslexia are also present, this becomes even more difficult.
2. Finishing work and/or tests in the same time frame as others.
My son easily takes twice as long to complete his homework than should be necessary. Even with a modification, he still takes longer. It frustrates him, because he knows that he understands how to do it.
3. Following multi-step directions
Students are still processing the first step. If you give them 2-3 steps, such as “Get out your notebook, write your name and the date, and copy this sentence from the board,” you are likely to see a student with slow processing speed get out the notebook and look around at others for the next step.
4. Participating in class discussions or partnered conversations.
Students that process auditory information more slowly than others might still be thinking about what was said. They might need more time to respond than other students. They also do not always pick up on social cues, meaning they might not understand certain people and/or situations.
5. Solving simple problems quickly.
My son’s strongest area is math. He understands everything, and scores very well. However, basic computation still takes him much longer than others. Students who process slowly might take longer to solve simple problems in their head.
What do teachers need to know?
Not keeping up can become a source of anxiety.
A child is in class doing an assignment, and he/she looks around and notices almost everyone is done. He/she is only halfway done. Now, rather than focusing on the work that he/she is already taking longer to finish, the child can’t stop thinking of how he/she must hurry now.
Kids might need help understanding social cues
One on one, they might do okay, although they are likely to misread their friend’s gestures, tone of voice, or facial expressions. In a large group, they can be overwhelmed with everything that is happening, and they might prefer to stay off to one side.
It does not mean kids are lazy.
Kids who process information more slowly are always playing catch up. That, in itself, is exhausting. They might be slow to start, and this can be mistaken for being unmotivated. Usually, they are still thinking about the directions, or they might not have even heard all of them.
It does not mean they are not as smart.
Slow processing speed does not have anything to do with a child’s intelligence. It simply means that the child needs more time to think the information through.
How to help?
Give single step directions.
Give directions in a variety of ways. Write them on the board and say them out loud. This will allow them to catch up if they didn’t hear everything the first time.
Make sure they have understood the directions. Casually walk by their desks after a few minutes and be sure they know what to do.
Give notes to students who need them rather than asking them to copy from the board. If students are able to take notes but often miss information, working with a partner to discuss and add to their notes can be a big help.
Modify the amount of work you give. If a student can show understanding from doing 5 problems rather than 10, allow them to do 5. You can allow them to pick the 5, or you can have 5 “must-do” problems.
Help the student build an awareness of time. Discuss how long something should take and help the student work towards that. It may mean modifying the work slightly, but it will help them begin to manage their own time.
As the student works on time management, help him/her set time reasonable time goals. If you like, you can implement a reward system when the student meets the goals.
Allow the student to finish at home or in a resource room when possible.
How slow processing speed affects our home life:
1.Homework takes forever.
A ten minute assignment takes 30. A twenty minute assignment can take an hour. It isn’t lack of effort, not understanding the material, or unwillingness to try. I watch my son struggle to stay on task every night doing homework. We sit at the table, side by side, as I help him stay on task and it still takes longer.
2. I give single-step directions.
If I don’t, I have to repeat them. I also have to stop what I am doing and make sure he is listening before I give directions. For a busy mom, it is an adjustment I’m still making! Yelling something from another room or walking by and giving directions do not work.
3. Getting ready for anything is such a process.
We wake up 1 1/2 hours before school to have time to get dressed, eat, and brush teeth. It literally takes that much time. I’ve tried so many different things to help him move faster, and I just came to terms with the fact that he needs that time. The bright side? He has gotten faster with age and we now have time to read together, review spelling words, or just take a leisurely breakfast. Starting the day right without being stressed is really important to us.
4. I’m constantly working on my patience.
Even though I know that he needs more time, I get frustrated at mealtime, bedtime, and any other time we have a schedule to meet. He’s doing the best he can, so it’s really my reaction that has to change.
5. We talk a lot about social cues.
Remember how I said that kids might miss them? That’s very true of my little one. He misses tone of voice, sarcasm, and often doesn’t read facial gestures. Where other kids just seem to “get” when someone doesn’t like what they are doing, kids who process slowly might totally miss this.
What to remember?
They may look lazy or like they are not trying. In reality, they are trying so hard to keep up and just need more support. They are not able to just “be faster” because they cannot process the information as quickly. Asking them to just do it faster is like asking a child who needs glasses to just see better. It just isn’t possible.
Kids are aware of everything, so they surely know when everyone is done but them. This can cause anxiety, so finding a place where they can finish without worrying about how long they are taking can help them focus and perform better.
Slow processing speed is not an indication of intelligence. Slow processing speed affects many very intelligent students. Gifted students can also process very slowly. For more information on gifted students who work slowly, read this article by Jennifer Gonzalez. She has some great strategies to use in the classroom for students who work more slowly, and you can also get information about gifted students who have learning difficulties, also known as twice exceptional (2e) students.
Wow! I feel like you have a glimpse into my life. My 13 yo was just diagnosed with ASD Type 1 (aka, mild Aspergers) along with slow processing speed. She failed 3 academic classes even having tutoring, and many other forms of help. As a mom and teacher this has been hard for me to wrap my brain around all of this.
Thank you for sharing your story.
You’re welcome! As a teacher, a lot of this has been hard for me, too. I have had the hardest time understanding why seemingly easy things can be so hard. I can see all his strengths and challenges, but I have to constantly remind myself that he is struggling and not just trying to give me a hard time. It’s a challenge, for sure. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s through sharing our stories that we help others understand, too. 🙂
I read this article more out of curiosity than out of need, but I think you did a really good job of explaining a lot of the struggles. I am a teacher myself, but I also have ADHD and asd and struggle with slow processing speed. I wish my teachers had had an article like this to help me, because I probably would have had a lot more confidence as a student if they had simply understood that I just needed more time.
Thank you for sharing your story. I feel like it has, at times, been very misunderstood in our situation as well, and it does chip away at his confidence. It is my hope that by sharing our story we will help others who might not understand. Having a teacher who understands can make all the difference.
What are your thoughts on IEP process when school just used ED for anxiety. I feel my daughter’s anxiety in school is a result of her slow processing and pressure to do timed tests, read aloud etc. She does not luke going to school. She is well in social development and her teacher says she thrives with her friends.
I totally understand! My son really hates all tests, because he takes a lot longer. On top of it, he’s a perfectionist, so that only makes it harder. He gets stressed, and I think the stress comes from the slow processing more than true anxiety, because when he moves at his own pace, he’s a carefree and calm guy. When he is pushed to keep up the pace with everyone else, he gets really frustrated and anxious. It’s a pretty vicious circle, because the slow processing causes anxiety, and the anxiety causes him to work even more slowly. What I think has helped us the most is that he can now communicate to us how he is feeling and exactly what is going on. When he was younger, he couldn’t really explain what was happening, and he would get so stressed that he would just shut down. All he knew was that he was trying as hard as he could, but he could never keep up. Creating a plan with him and the school has been the biggest help, provided that the teacher was on board.
We currently don’t have an IEP, although students with ADHD can sometimes qualify under “other health impairment.” My son has a 504 for ADHD, and extra time is his main accommodation, as is testing in a separate room. Those two combined help his anxiety, because he is less worried about what the other kids are doing, but he still gets stressed.
I can’t really say about her IEP, but I do know that slow processing in itself doesn’t always qualify a student for an IEP. To qualify, students must be affected by one of the 13 conditions under IDEA, and slow processing is not one of them, but ED is. If she has no specific learning disability or doesn’t meet IEP qualifications in the other areas, this might be how they can accommodate her. Here’s a good link to the conditions covered under IDEA. This might help you understand how they chose this condition and not another : https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/special-education-basics/conditions-covered-under-idea
Thank you for writing this article. As a teacher of 17 years I will admit that I still had very little understanding as to what slow processing speed really meant. This will be extremely helpful to me in the years to come and will surely help me to develop more patience and understanding for those who are trying to be successful under such difficult circumstances. My message to those students will be carefully calculated from this point on.
You’re welcome! I’m glad it will be of help. I sincerely hoped when writing this that it would help teachers understand what it looks and feels like. Even though I had been in education for 14 years when my son was tested, I didn’t really understand it very well. It’s only after a lot of reading and a lot of doctor’s visits did I begin to wrap my head around it. For years, I’d been sitting at the table for hours as he did homework that was so easy for him, yet took forever. It’s very hard to understand, because it looks like lack of motivation or just plain laziness, but that isn’t it at all. The tears I see at home don’t happen at school, because at school he hides how difficult it is for him. I hope by sharing our story that we can increase the understanding of this and help those who are struggling get the support they need.
I feel like you just described my child perfectly! Thank you for this article. It helped me understand how he is feeling, and that I need more patience and that he needs more time and that’s okay.
You’re welcome! I still struggle to be patient with my son, because things can take so much longer. Deep down, I know he’s doing the best he can, so all I can do is help him with his time management. It’s easier said than done, but understanding how he feels helps me a lot.
So I have suspected this is the case with my 14-year-old daughter for some time. Tasks in school go unfinished and homework takes forever. I have tried meeting with teachers every year but I feel like the message falls on deaf ears. How does one get this diagnosed? Thanks for sharing this, as it explains so well what we see every day.
You’re welcome! I know how hard it can be to watch your child struggle. The best place to start would be with your child’s pediatrician. You can talk about what you see, and they might refer you to a specialist. Be sure to have specific information to share such as how long an average homework assignment takes, how much work is unfinished, etc. Our doctor’s office has a child psychologist on staff, so we started there. When an evaluation was recommended by his teacher, we already had a diagnosis of ADHD, so we had an idea what was happening.
In the U.S., you do have the right to request an evaluation, but you can also get a private evaluation outside of school and then share the findings with the school. The cost will vary based on your medical coverage, so that is a consideration to think of before starting the process. As far as testing at school goes, I would talk to the teacher and ask specifically to have someone from the special education department observe your child in class. Since your daughter is 14, she likely has many teachers, so if you are more comfortable, you could reach out to the her counselor and discuss your concerns.
Bear in mind, slow processing speed is not a learning disorder in itself, so not all children who take longer will qualify for special services. To qualify, a student must be affected by one of the conditions covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). However, as it can contribute to other learning issues such as ADHD or dyslexia, it’s a good idea to look into it and see if she qualifies for extra support.
Great insight. I have a son who is 17 and deals with this. We have been able to make adjustments at home, but I wish I would have known how to better advocate for him at school. Thanks for giving parents the information to be able to do so.
You’re welcome! It’s never easy to know what to do, and I’m still trying to figure out what works best for us, too. 🙂
I am a Middle School sped teacher with ADD, Asperger’s, and slow processing speed. The more Autistic Teachers we get, the better we understand the students we teach! 😊
Thanks for being patient with your children and the school systems. Teachers don’t like the testing either. I’d like to use parts of your blog for my first parent meeting with your permission. The more I can educate other parents, the better lives our children will have.
Thank you for writing!
Hi Carina! I’m glad it will be of help to you. I love that you have such a good understanding of your students’ needs.
I was a teacher for many years, and I never liked testing. As a parent, I have found that I like it even less!
You’re welcome to share the information here with your parents. I highly recommend the video I have linked above, as well as looking around their website. 🙂
This is so us. My 15 year old daughter has both slow process ing and ADD, which results in a lot of stress and anxiety. It is helpful to see others struggle with the same thing. She has a 504 that includes most of your recommendations. We struggle with homework and teachers understand ing the need for accommodations. This also sheds light on peer relationships, as she struggles with friends. I am going to share this with her and her teachers for next year. I am also a teacher and have learned so much for my students since we figured this out.
Thank you for this are hopefully it will help people better understand this struggle.
Thanks for sharing your story. We are currently dealing a lot with the anxiety piece of this, because as much as he wants to, he cannot work faster. This causes so much stress for him, and I think it is confusing for his teachers. While has no problem doing any of the work, he is distracted and takes so much longer. It looks like he is not motivated, but that just isn’t the case.
We also have a 504, but it isn’t necessarily effective. We have struggled when teachers do not follow it or do not seem to understand the issue. I am just like you, because having a child struggle with this has really helped me understand it so much better. I know I didn’t understand it in my early teaching days, and I hope that this helps others who work with students like this.
Well done! In the 10 years since my daughter was diagnosed with processing speed deficit this is the first article to properly address the condition. Told by doctors my child was basically “stuck with dial up service” while the rest of the world moved at WiFi speed, did little to help me deal with the extended hours and tears of homework. We did learn what worked best for her and she is now a successful college student. Thank you for getting good information out there.
You’re welcome! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad to hear she’s successful in college. As I’m dealing with hours of homework and tears, it helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope that sharing our experience might help others who are struggling with the same thing.
I’m literally in tears because this article describes my daughter. She is in advanced classes in school because she tested well, however she only tested well because they gave her extra (and I mean EXTRA) time to complete it. They don’t see the 3hrs of torture at home to complete 4 math problems, or the laborious task of completing the sentences based on the paragraph that took forever to get through. Its so challenging and as she progresses through school it is becoming more evident. I’m currently trying to get the school to evaluate her for learning disability and am also getting a 504 in place based on generalized anxiety disorder.
Home life is even worse. She also wakes up super early to have time to get ready before school… She’s very methodical in everything she does… Eating takes forever… And simple tasks like picking out a show to watch, or what snack to eat, or what to wear the next day, you would think she’s deciding the fate of the world. She also struggles keeping up with conversations, getting jokes, etc. And is easily triggered and cries/gets upset over seemingly trivial things.
It’s so hard as a parent. It’s hard for her, as she occasionally has a breakdown when she recognizes her differences. She likes being quirky, but also wishes she could fit in. Secretly my husband and I wonder if she will ever be able to really function as an adult, or find a mate who will understand her. I try my best to encourage her along, help her try to manage her time, try to show her other ways hoping she can learn something faster, and so on. Other parents don’t “get” my daughter, or truly understand what I go through. Thank you for your candid and helpful post!
You’re welcome! I know just how it feels. I wrote this, because I think so many people truly do not understand the struggle. We’ve spent a lot of time helping our son learn techniques to manage his time, but it’s definitely a work in progress. It does not make him faster, but it helps him manage tasks better.
From a teacher’s perspective, it can be confusing, because even kids who score very advanced can take very long. It looks like they should just be able to do it as fast as everyone else, but they can’t, and that creates a LOT of stress. Our biggest struggle has been teaching him to advocate for himself, because he will always need extra time, and that is not going to change with age. He’s embarrassed by it, but he also realizes now that it doesn’t mean he’s less smart.
I wouldn’t stress yet about adulthood (although I often have your same thoughts). There really is a place in the world for those who take time to think before reacting. Slow and deliberate people are a must in certain careers, so while he may not ever be an emergency room surgeon, he’d make an excellent researcher. I can definitely say that this is an upside to our situation, and I’m sure that if you continue to build your daughter’s strengths, she’ll find just the place she belongs.
Sending a big hug to you! Sometimes it feels like you are the only one going through this, but I promise that you aren’t. <3
Susan Bondy says
Oh my goodness. Where to begin. I’m a teacher and the parent of a nearly 20 year old son who is mildly autistic and has some pretty severe learning differences piled on top of that. His processing speed has always officially tested in the 5th percentile. Yes, that is a single digit number. He is also incredibly smart and a phenomenally hard worker. We are very fortunate that his elementary school started working on keyboarding skills back when he was in the first grade. While he has never been able to write quickly, he can type very quickly and accurately. He has been taking notes using a laptop computer since the 6th grade. He would recreate worksheets on his computer when he was in high school so that he could fill them in by typing rather than handwriting them.
The level of frustration that he experienced at times in high school was alarming. I had the personal phone numbers of several of his teachers each year so that when he got stuck on an assignment, I’d call and have the teacher talk to him to tell him to STOP and go to bed. While not all teachers would probably be willing to do this, it did them to better understand what he was like at home and that it truly did take him forever to get things done. When he turned in a lab report for physics class that the teacher said was “college level work”, I asked the teacher how long he thought our son had spent on the assignment. The teachers guess was 1-2 hours. Our son had spent ELEVEN hours on that one lab report. And other homework had not been completed because of the time spent on that one assignment. There were, at times, not enough hours in the day for our son to get his work done.
The good news is that he graduated from high school and we found a small college for him that provides extensive support services for students with learning differences. He’s a sophomore majoring in math– largely because there is not as much reading as there would be for other majors. He has never been a good reader.
Anyway, thank you for this blog post. It’s particularly important for teachers to understand that these kiddos are not lazy. When my school starts talking about only assigning a certain number of minutes of homework per night, I always ask what we are basing these minutes on. Because what might take one student 5 minutes to complete might take another one 20 minutes to complete.
Thank you for sharing your story. I know how hard it is, and because my son is only in 4th grade, I know how long we’ve got ahead of us to help him learn to advocate for his needs.
My son’s work is flawless and far above grade level in many cases, but he takes 2-3 times longer than others to do that work. We have had teachers get angry when he takes a long time, because they assumed he wasn’t trying, but they didn’t see the tears and frustration when he knew he was trying his hardest. I, too, question the logic that homework should be assigned by the amount of time it takes, because I’ve found that to be very different for students. I don’t have the perfect solution there, but I’m thankful when teachers work with us and realize just how hard he is trying.
Thank you so much for your post. I am a 15-year old student who struggles with slow processing speed, and unfortunately I have had more teachers who made me feel stupid than teachers who have been supportive and helped me with it. I related a lot to the struggles you mentioned in your article that people with my condition face, and I’m glad that there’s one more teacher out there that strives to understand slow processing speed, rather than belittle those students and make them feel bad. Hopefully this article will help even more teachers become like you.
Thanks for sharing your story. I know how difficult it has been for my son, and I do think it is has been hard for some teachers to understand. I hope that this helps others find ways to work with students so that they feel understood and supported.
Sue schroepfer says
As special education teacher and Mom for a wonderful young man who struggled with Processing speed issues all through school… all you ideas are great. My young man is now 32 years… functioning great in his part of the world.. wonderful wife and amazing Grand-baby. Learning has to be figured out by the student with us parents to guide and support. Wonderful article
Thank you for sharing your son’s successes! It has been a tough road, and I know we still have a long way to go. It’s very important to show patience and to remember that they are trying as hard as they can, but that can be easier said than done. I’ve struggled a lot with taking time to slow down and let him work at his pace, but once I was able to do that, he became so much less stressed and showed great progress.
I have add, I’m currently using Strattera and it’s helping quite a bit. I was diagnosed with a language processing disorder., and an expressive/receptive language disorder.
School is extremely difficult for me. My brain struggles to hold onto information, be the info from reading or conversation, or directions. My comprehension is terrible, so is recalling facts in history, science etc…. math class you can almost forget! It takes forever to understand any kind of process. As a consequence, I never feel comfortable talking in class or answering questions. All kinds of participation groups cause huge anxiety , so I avoid them altogether.
I would appreciate any kind of learning strategies you could help me with. Thank you
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m happy to hear that medication is helping. It can be a great first step.
Accommodations vary based on your age and school setting. I’m not sure what your situation is, but I’ll share a few things that have worked in the past for me. I’d recommend talking to your school and finding out exactly what is available to you. If you are working with a speech therapist, he or she should be able to suggest some accommodations that can help.
For the recall part, it can be helpful to have a note-taker for your reading assignments and class lectures. You’ll still read and attend class as usual, but it will make it much easier for you to locate the important information you need.
As far as speaking anxiety, I have used a system that works quite well with students. For those who are more anxious, I tell them ahead of time the question(s) I want them to prepare. They are not stressed, because they are ready to participate. I don’t call on them outside of that unless they want to share something. For others who might be less anxious, we have come up with a secret signal they can give me when they are ready to answer a question. This way, they can participate on their terms when they are ready. We usually set a goal for them to participate a specified number of times per week, so they choose when they are feeling able to share.
When looking for new strategies, I really like the website https://www.understood.org because they can provide very specific guidance on a lot of learning-related topics.
Marie Grobbelaar says
This was rather interesting to coming upon yourwebsite learning about students with slow processing speed. I have gone on pension in 2018 and started to give private remedial lessons from home in 2019. Last year was a tough year as schools were closed on and off during covid but I had a boy whoze mother brougjht him to. me and apparently he was tested by some psychologists who found him to have slow processing speed. I would defnitely like to learn more about this “condition” and what one can do to help and improve the learning processes of these children. I am from South Africa.
It is definitely interesting to look at. I can’t say that things move any faster at my house than they did two years ago, and testing still takes just as long. The recommendations for how to help are a great place to start. With my son, he scores very high, so while there is no need for remediation, he definitely needs more time. At home, we are working a lot at helping him advocate for himself and communicate his needs to his teachers. He will probably always need more time, and gradually, he’s becoming okay with it.
Check out the video I’ve linked. That site and the book I mentioned were both really helpful for me.
My son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia and slow processing speed I was focusing mostly or the dyslexia rather than the slow processing but this has really helped me understand where his anxiety is coming from. In England at his age they do a timed times table test and the run up to it is causing him anxiety because the focus is in speed . When he gets stressed he develops a twitch which lasts a few weeks and it’s started again. I’m not sure how to handle the situation with his teacher do you have any suggestions?
I totally understand. My son is advanced in math but has never mastered times tables like that, simply because it is so stressful for him.
I reached out to his teacher when they were doing something like this and asked her to not require him to do the speed drills for a time. He was able to do the activities in the time he needed and did not record his time. He was quite stressed about it as well, and removing the time limit was a big help. If your son has an educational plan, you definitely could ask for extended time and that teachers cannot use time tests with him. My son would never finish in a timed test, and even just having to finish during a class period often causes stress. As a teacher, I can tell you that slow processing is not very easy to understand, because often students will show understanding of the material, yet take much longer to do the work. I know I always appreciate an email from a parent, or even a meeting, to help me understand what is happening, especially in situations where the student is having a lot of anxiety over what we are doing. I’d start there, and also reach out to the school specialist to see what help you can get.
B. Smith says
Wow thank you for highlighting this. I’m an adult with slow processing speed and it’s so hard. Everyone doesn’t understand what’s wrong with me. No matter how hard I try I can’t keep up with normal adult expectations
There is nothing wrong with you! You just need a little more time, and that is okay. I know it is definitely hard for my son, because he wants to be as fast as everyone else. We talk a lot about how to explain that he needs more time to complete something or to think something over, because being able to explain what is going on will help others understand.
One thing I especially appreciate about him is his ability to deeply think through things before answering. Processing more slowly often means taking time to really see all the angles and think it all through. I’ve had many students who need more time, but then they will come up with the most amazing ideas. Maybe you could ask someone close to you to help you find a way to explain what is happening so that you feel comfortable sharing this information with others when you feel it would be helpful.
Please don’t get down on yourself! Not fitting into one of the boxes society has made for us doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer. It just means you might need to find a different way to share your talents.