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Journal of Child Psychology

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Working memory in children with mild to borderline intellectual disabilities: A systematic review of strengths and weaknesses

Author(s): Roording RS*, Willemse DS, Buitelaar J and Molen M

BACKGROUND: Limitations in Working Memory (WM) appear to play a crucial role in the development of learning problems and behavioral problems in children with Mild to Borderline Intellectual Disabilities (MBID). Increasing our understanding about WM strengths and weaknesses in this vulnerable population, offer more insight into what type of support is best for these children.
METHOD: This review employed a systematic literature review (N=11) to investigate whether WM in children (aged 4 to 18) with MBID (IQ range 50-85) differs compared to (1) typically developing children of the same Chronological Age (CA) and (2) younger, typically developing children with the same Mental Age (MA).
CONCLUSION: The visuospatial WM system is a relatively strong aspect, in particular for those higher functioning MBID children (IQ range between 70-85). In contrast to this, verbal WM performance appears to be rather weak in this group. This verbal WM deficiency contributes to problems with reading, writing and numeracy. It is, therefore, important to stimulate WM both at home and at school from an early age. Additionally, training programs could be initiated that focus not only on enhancing WM but also on acquiring memory strategies to increase generalizability to daily activities.

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