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Strategies for Memory Difficulties in Premature children

Preemie Milestones - a quick look

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Preemie Milestones are important to know and understand. Keeping an eye on your preemies development and checking when they reach certain milestones can help you determine when a little help might be necessary.


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Preemie milestones can keep you both on track

When understanding preemie milestones is important to learn a little bit of information on the typical development of various skills, as well as some information about signs that may indicate problems with development. If your preemie is not meeting the milestones mentioned you may want to talk to your paediatrician about your preemie's development.


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Strategies for Memory Difficulties in Premature children

Some children, whether they are born preemie or not, have difficulties with some aspects of thinking. This section provides some recommendations for specific skills that are important for learning.

Sometimes, through no fault of their own, preterm children have difficulty remembering things they have looked at, read, or listened to. This may or may not be related to the fact they were born preterm. Although there may not be a “cure” for memory problems children can learn some strategies that might help them improve their memory.

Memory problems at home

Active Learning

  • The more sensory systems used to learn something the more likely it will be remembered.  While reading material it can help to actually read out loud, or make a table or diagram. It can greatly enhance the strength of receiving the information and how deeply the information is processed.
  • Encourage your child to underline, highlight, and/or write comments in their book or in the margins.
  • Buy a good dictionary or find a good link to an online source and encourage your child to circle key words and/or make note of unfamiliar words to look up in the dictionary.
  • Educate your children as to the benefits of asking questions. Let them know it is a positive, proactive step in the process of learning.
  • Work together with your child to organise an achievable study timetable, set goals, and prioritise tasks 
  • Try dictating key facts onto an electronic device, play them back, and then make a written list of them.
  • Repeat information to be remembered, and revise frequently.
  • Deeper understanding of material will help retention of that information over time, so it is important to focus on understanding the material rather than memorising it. For example, there is greater understanding if students commit a maths formula to memory through exercises that use the formula rather than through rote repetition.
  • Children with memory difficulties need to be reminded to elaborate on new information and associate it as much as possible with prior knowledge. Encourage your child to actively think about new facts, get them to talk about them and relate them consciously to what they have already stored in long-term memory.
  • Encourage your child to write things down. Get them to choose a “special” notebook for this purpose. This can be useful for school assignments, as well as after school activities, things to follow up on and so on.
  • Provide a notepad or small white board close to the phone so that telephone messages can be easily recorded rather than relying on memory.
  • Children with memory problems should try to think and write at the same time. When they are trying to work out a solution they should write down their process step-by-step. For example, when they solving an arithmetic problem they should write down each step in as much detail as possible.
  • Using computers can help children who have difficulty remembering things. Entering new, important information and then retrieving it on a screen or printout can sometimes reinforce recall.
  • Some educators believe it is best to study at the end of the night believing it can promote recall of the last material studied before going to bed rather than the last television show. However it is important to work when noise and other distractions are at a minimum, as well as during times when concentration is best, this will vary from person to person.
  • Timed quizzes can be particularly challenging for your child if they have memory problems. Find out if it possible for your child to receive extra time during examinations.
  • Understand that long and complex tasks are especially challenging and trying to increase the amount of time you have them working is unlikely to be an effective strategy, it is better to break down work into smaller manageable parts. Overwhelming someone when they already have memory difficulties is more likely to have negative consequences, such as poor self esteem and lack of confidence.
  • Help your child develop a "remembering plan," a system for acquisition (taking in), registration (processing and retaining) and self testing.

Subvocalisations

  • This has been touched on but you can teach your child subvocalisations. Subvocalisations are also referred to as silent speech. It is the technique of internal speech where the reader imagines the sound of the word as they read it. It helps reduce the amount of effort involved in trying to understand the content and therefore increases the chances of remembering it later.
  • Help teach your child verbal mediation, which includes imaging the scene or object while reading or listening, using rhymes and anagrams.

 

Memory Problems at School

Strategies for Teachers

Strategies for teachers to use when a student is experiencing memory difficulties

  • Present information in a simple and concise manner. Try not to overwhelm the child with irrelevant details. Present no more than one or two instructions at a time.
  • Use prompts and cues to help child retrieve information if they are having difficulty.
  • Have the child summarise the main points at the end of each chapter or every few pages of novels to reduce the load on their memory and to have an outline for review later on. The child is likely to consolidate the information more efficiently if there is visual information accompanying the novel, such as a movie or documentary. This skill is especially important in High School.
  • Only give one task to complete at a time. Do not overwhelm the child with multi-step instructions.
  • Some children have significant difficulties such that keeping up with the speed at which material is presented is challenging, as a result they may be missing out on important and relevant information. It may be possible to provide notes for various classes, either by providing the “teacher’s notes”, or photocopies of a fellow student’s notes.
  • Wherever possible, use both verbal and visual cues to teach new information.
  • It is important that children with memory difficulties focus on one activity at a time, and do it well, rather than have them trying to do more than one thing at a time and not do anything properly or well. This is important for the child’s self-esteem; constantly setting tasks that are too difficult can seriously affect motivation and self-esteem. Children with memory difficulties may have a great deal of trouble multi-tasking.
  • Highlight important points in class by repetition, intonation and direction. For example, “this is an important point, be sure to listen carefully”.
  • Child may benefit from highlighting relevant points and ideas within text. However, some children with significant memory difficulties may need assistance to identify key points, ideas and words.
  • Where possible or if a child has a teacher aide you may want to ask the child to repeat back the instructions or information in their own words, to ensure they have understood.
  • During comprehension exercises, it may be advisable to have the child read the comprehension question first, so that they can focus their attention on relevant material whilst they read.
  • Where a child is having significant memory problems you may be able to use a multiple-choice format in test situations, which compensates for a child’s retrieval difficulties.
  • Timed quizzes can be particularly challenging for children with memory problems. Some children may require extra time during examinations.
  • Students with memory difficulties should develop their note taking skills; they should develop the habit of writing things down. They should take a diary to each class at school and make sure they record all of their assignments and what materials they will need to complete them (such as books to take home).
  • If possible information could be converted into their strongest modality. That is, if a child is a particularly strong visual learner, diagrams and tables might be the most effective way to learn. On the other hand a child with strong verbal skills might master skills more effectively by reading and listening to rules for memorising. Notes and work sheets are effective for this.
(Catroppa & Anderson, 2002; Chanquoy, 2001; Kinsella et al., 2009; Simon, 1998; Thone, 1996)

Technical Reference List

Catroppa, C., & Anderson, V. (2002). Recovery in memory function in the first year following TBI in children. Brain Injury, 16(5), 369-384.
Chanquoy, L. (2001). How to make it easier for children to revise their writing: A study of text revision from 3rd to 5th grades. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 15-41.
Kinsella, G. J., Mullaly, E., Rand, E., Ong, B., Burton, C., Price, S., et al. (2009). Early intervention for mild cognitive impairment: a randomised controlled trial. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 80(7), 730-736.
Simon, C. S. (1998). When big kids don't learn: contextual modifications and intervention strategies for age 8-18 at-risk students. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 12(3), 249-280.
Thone, A. I. T. (1996). Memory rehabilitation - Recent developments and future directions. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 9(3), 125-140.

 

 



AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 


Read More: Defining Preterm birth


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