Working Memory

Deficits in Working Memory are common in all specific learning difficulties (dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, yet your child may have neither of these and still have a Working Memory deficit. 


Think of Working Memory as ‘memory in action’ the ability to remember or ‘hook’ relevant information while in the middle of thinking about something else. 


Working Memory coordinates our attentional control: helps us direct our behaviour towards a goal.  


Working Memory manipulates what we see and what we hear so we can act upon that information.  


Working Memory issues means frequent failure in activities that involve: 


  • following instructions  

  • mental arithmetic 

  • comprehension of language 

  • storing information whilst engaged in other cognitively demanding    activities  

  • place-keeping in complex tasks  

  • mind-wandering under conditions of high cognitive load response inhibition (the suppression of actions that are inappropriate in a given context and that interfere with goal-driven behaviour). 

  • attentional switching (back and forth between multiple tasks, operations, or mental sets)  

  • planning  

  • sustained attention  


Working memory becomes overloaded if it has to process too much information at the same time. This results in children experiencing difficulties in understanding what they are supposed to be doing.  


Signs of Poor Working Memory 


  • Difficulty staying focused in lessons 

  • Seems forgetful 

  • Can’t remember where they put things 

  • May put their hand up and then forgets what they were going to say 

  • Has problems following multistep problems 

  • Does not remember what they have just read.  


The Wechsler Intelligence Test for Children — Fifth Edition (WISC-V) is a cognitive ability measure known across the world. The WISC-V was developed for use with children between the ages of 6 and 16, and is used to obtain a comprehensive assessment of general intellectual functioning in the context of various types of evaluations. The WISC-V is actually made up of 10 subtests, yielding 5 scores, each one a summary measure of a certain ability. These are called Verbal Comprehension, Visual Spatial, Fluid Reasoning, Working Memory, and Processing Speed.