General Phone: (281) 298-1144

What Causes Memory Problems in Children?

Noticing a memory problem in your child or teen can be incredibly unnerving. You may wonder if their memory lapses are normal for their developmental stage or if a glitch in their memory signals a more serious problem.

Rather than worrying about the possibilities, connect with our team at THINK Neurology for Kids. We specialize in determining the cause of memory problems. Then we can work with you and your child to overcome the challenges and restore their memory.

Read on to learn about the most common causes of memory problems in children.

Developmental and intellectual disabilities

Developmental and intellectual disabilities like ADHD, autism, Down syndrome, Rett syndrome, and developmental language disorder commonly cause memory problems. Though some of these conditions may affect long-term and visual memory, they most often disrupt working memory.

Working memory gives children (and adults) the ability to hold information in their mind long enough to complete a task or make decisions. This type of memory only lasts a few seconds and has a limited capacity. Most people can only hold a few pieces of information in their working memory at one time.

Without a strong working memory, your child struggles to pay attention. They have difficulties organizing their time, planning activities, and taking steps to reach a goal. You may notice that they can’t follow instructions and they often don’t complete homework assignments or chores.

Concussions and traumatic brain injuries

A concussion and other more serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when a sudden impact makes the brain move. The brain goes in one direction, bounces against the skull, and then snaps back in the opposite direction.

Your child or teen can suffer a mild to severe TBI after a direct blow to their head. But they can also end up with a concussion after a strong impact to their body.

Memory loss is one of the most common symptoms of TBIs. In most cases, TBIs affect short-term memory, so your child may not remember what happened right before their injury. 

Most children heal quickly after a concussion, but even with a mild TBI memory loss can continue for weeks or months.

Medical and mental health disorders

Many different medical conditions and mental health disorders affect short- and long-term memory. These are only a few examples:

Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) cause rapid and severe symptoms of OCD. They’re also associated with a noticeable loss of non-verbal memory.

Childhood trauma

Any type of trauma can trigger memory loss, whether it’s in the form of a threat to a child’s safety, ongoing encounters with a bully, or physical or emotional abuse. But this type of memory problem may not represent true memory loss.

In other types of memory loss, the brain doesn’t store or retain the memory. When children can’t remember traumatic events, there’s a good chance the memory is logged in their brain but they can’t retrieve it. This is called a dissociative disorder.

Everyone occasionally experiences dissociation. For example, daydreaming or getting lost in a good book or movie causes a sense of dissociation or mild disconnection from your surroundings.

Trauma causes deeper dissociation that serves a purpose: It protects children and teens by allowing them to forget about overwhelming, frightening, horrifying, and painful events or feelings.

If you’re concerned about your child’s memory, book an appointment online or call one of our offices in The Woodlands, Katy, or Cypress, Texas, today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How a Concussion Might Affect Your Child’s Sleep

Changes in your child’s sleep are expected after a concussion. All children need to rest, but some sleep for long stretches while others struggle to sleep. Here’s what parents need to know about sleep issues after a concussion.

Understanding the 3 Different Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy isn’t one disease with a single defining symptom. It’s a group of disorders that cause a wide range of symptoms requiring individualized treatment. Here’s what you need to know about the three main types of cerebral palsy.

4 Common Causes of a Speech Delay in Kids

Parents naturally worry when their child’s speech lags behind others in the same age group. But with early intervention, children can learn the skills they need to overcome a delay. Here’s what you should know about speech delays and their causes.

Important Treatments for Chiari Malformation Type II

Chiari malformation Type II is a congenital disability that causes parts of the lower brain to protrude down into the spinal canal. Though some therapies ease symptoms, the most critical treatment is surgery to create more space and relieve pressure.

6 Effective Treatments for Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome is known for causing tics, but tics devastate children’s emotions and behaviors, often disrupting their ability to enjoy school and friends. Read on to learn about the treatments proven to help their challenges.

5 Encouraging Facts About Autism

If you’re overwhelmed with the daily challenges of autism, it’s time to take a step back and remember that you have hope for the future. Begin by reading these encouraging facts while remembering the precious child underneath the challenges.