Here are examples of what it looks like when people struggle with working memory.
Doing mental math. The teacher asks kids to add 21 and 13 in their heads, and then subtract 6 from the sum. Kids might remember the numbers the teacher said to add: 21 and 13. But they might not recall what they’re supposed to do with them. Or they might not hold on to the sum (34) so they can subtract 6 from it.
Following practical instructions. When people are told a set of instructions, like driving directions, they may not remember all of the steps. Or they might not remember the correct order.
Using information later. Some people may find that the information they have remembered doesn’t make much sense. Because of working memory problems, the brain didn’t package it properly in the first place.
People who learn and think differently often have trouble with working memory. This is especially true of kids and adults with ADHD. That’s because ADHD is linked to trouble with executive function skills, like working memory.