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Teaching Students with Auditory Processing Disorders

By Dr. Deborah Cutter

For students with auditory processing disorders, identifying and teaching to a student's learning style can make a huge difference. Read some basic information on teaching to all styles in your class, visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

Your Student's Learning Styles

If a child has one or more learning disability it can be very difficult to concentrate and learn in the classroom setting which has so many inherent distractions. In these cases especially, it is important to identify the child’s primary learning style and use it to choose tools and techniques that will help them concentrate better, improve learning, and increase self-esteem with the ultimate goal of reaching their maximum potential. In this short article on learning styles, we will explore the impact and benefits to students with auditory processing disorders.

Children with auditory processing disorders have problems understanding the lessons and directions given in the classroom. They have difficulty analyzing or making sense of information taken in through their ears. Problems with speech, language and reading can occur when there is difficulty mastering the following skills:

  • Phonological Awareness - individual sounds (phonemes) are put together to form words.
  • Auditory Discrimination - the ability to recognize differences in sounds.
  • Auditory Memory - the ability to store and recall information which was given verbally.

Interventions and Accommodations

Here are a few common interventions and accommodations that can be used in the classroom with special needs children if there is an auditory processing problem:

When giving verbal instructions - try to supplement with written materials or other visual cues.

Simplify verbal directions - give two commands instead of three, slow the rate of speech, and minimize distractions.

Help build auditory processing skills - rhyming games build phonics awareness and improve discrimination skills between similar and different sounds; sorting games involving verbal commands help to improve memory.

Visual Processing Disorders affect the ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes and impacts how visual information is interpreted, or processed by the brain. Problems with spatial relationships affects the ability to accurately perceive objects in space with reference to other objects. Problems with visual discrimination affects the ability to differentiate colors, forms, shapes, patterns, sizes and position of objects and can negatively affect progress with reading and math.

Reading and math are two subjects where accurate perception and understanding of spatial relationships are very important because they both rely heavily on the use of symbols (letters, numbers, punctuation, and math signs). When a child is having trouble reading or is having difficulty doing math there could be a visual processing or auditory problem. For these problems try the following:

  • Reading Problems – what helps is having enlarged print for books, worksheets or other materials which makes tasks more manageable.
  • Improve Tracking and Focus - use colored construction paper, cut a window out of a rectangle to create a frame that is placed on top of the worksheet, it helps keep the relevant numbers, words, or sentences in clear focus while blocking out much of the peripheral material which can be distracting. As the child's tracking improves, the prompt can be reduced. For example, after a period of time, you can replace the "window" with a ruler which still provides additional structure. This prompt can be faded eventually by having the child point to the word they are reading with their finger or pencil.
  • For problems with writing - add more structure to the lined paper they write on can be helpful. For example, lines can be made darker and more distinct; paper with raised lines provides kinesthetic feedback; worksheets can be simplified and less material can be placed on each worksheet; using paper which is divided into large and distinct sections can help to improve penmanship when doing math problems.