Long-Term Memory Problems in Children and Adolescents: Assessment, Intervention, and Effective Instruction

By Milton J. Dehn | Go to book overview

Preface

One day when I was reading an article about recently discovered cases of developmental amnesia (a rare condition without identified cause in which children have extreme difficulty remembering), I was reminded of students with severe learning disabilities whom I had often encountered during my years of work as a school psychologist. It struck me that I had been missing something when I evaluated those students and made recommendations for their educational programs, and I began to wonder how many other children with academic learning and performance problems actually had underlying memory impairments. When I worked in the schools, I, like most school psychologists, seldom assessed students’ long-term memory functions. In fact, I had never been trained to do so, probably because there were no long-term memory batteries for children in existence when I was in graduate school. As I switched to private practice, I began paying more attention to the possibility of memory problems when children were brought in for evaluations and tutoring. When I administered memory scales to these children, I was astounded to discover that about half of children with significant learning problems had deficits in working memory and that a sizable number also had impairments in long-term memory. I felt for these children. So often, their poor academic performance had been attributed to everything but neurologically based memory problems. Furthermore, those who were trying to help them were neglecting the memory problems.

With all of the resources our culture invests in the education of children and adolescents, I find it incredible that educators, parents, psychologists, and everyone else involved in the education and psychology of youth do not pay more attention to the most important variable in the learning equation—memory. Obviously, learning and memory go together; one cannot exist without the other. Yet, initial learning does not guarantee long-term retention and recall. Some students who learn easily also forget quickly, while others who struggle with learning retain the information well once it reaches long-term memory. Children and adolescents who forget too much or who struggle with learning because of memory problems are not difficult to understand or to help. Adults who want to understand and help can begin by learning more about memory. Books and research articles on memory from the fields of neuroscience, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology

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