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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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4.1 Working Memory Weaknesses and Supports

Children and teens with ADHD experience many of their most significant academic and functional difficulties as a result of working memory weaknesses. Working memory (WM) is one of the executive functions that is needed for numerous aspects of daily life and is critical to learning and performing successfully at school (Lists 1.2, 1.4).

Definitions and Descriptions of Working Memory

  • WM has been described as our mental workspace, a place to hold information online, so to speak, long enough to manipulate it in order to solve a problem or complete a task (Katz, 2011).
  • WM has also been described as our brain's sticky note (Alloway, 2010) or cognitive desktop (Kaufman, 2010), which allows a person to temporarily hold and manipulate information while engaging in other cognitive tasks.
  • WM is holding in mind what you are doing: the goal that you hope to attain and the means that you intend to use to get there (Barkley, 2013).
  • WM is an active and limited-capacity memory system that acquires information from short- or long-term memory, sensory input, and automatic memory, and then holds the information for a short time while a task is being performed (Baddeley, 2006; Meltzer, 2010).
  • WM can be understood as an internal scratch pad. It provides us with a place to store information that we will need to use for the next step of a task, but that we do not need to store beyond that time. For those with weak working memory, it is as if their scratch pads ...

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