Stowell Learning Center

The Listening – Learning Connection

llIf you’re not listening, you’re not learning.  I think this is a pretty profound statement.  I realize there are many ways to learn, but our experience with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges has shown that the vast majority of individuals who struggle with learning, including dyslexia and attention challenges, have difficulties with auditory processing, or listening.

Living with an auditory processing delay or a weakness with listening skills can be fatiguing and frustrating.  The ear has neurological connections to nearly every organ and function in the body as well as the attention, emotional, language, and learning centers in the brain.  As a result, poor listening skills can cause a person to experience difficulties with speaking, reading, spelling, comprehension, attention, communication, energy, and sense of well-being.

Good listening/auditory skills depend upon being able to take-in and process a very broad range of sound frequencies.  When the brain is not processing the full range of frequencies, the listener may get incomplete and inaccurate information – much like having a bad cell phone connection.

Individuals with weak auditory processing may

  • Miss details or parts of what was said
  • Mishear and therefore misunderstand or misinterpret information
  • Confuse similar sounding words
  • Have trouble sounding out or pronouncing words
  • Feel lost and confused
  • Feel anxious
  • Look like they are not paying attention
  • Have poor attention when listening
  • Give responses that don’t match the question or conversation
  • Withdraw or talk incessantly so that they don’t have to listen

Symptoms of Auditory Processing Delay

Does your child…

  • Say, “Huh?” “What?” frequently?  Often asks for things to be repeated?
  • Have normal hearing acuity but inconsistent response to auditory stimuli?
  • Difficulty following oral directions?
  • Short attention span?
  • Fatigue easily during auditory (listening) tasks?
  • Have poor long and short term memory?
  • Look at you when you’re speaking, but doesn’t appear to be listening?
  • Have trouble listening when there is background noise?
  • Have difficulty knowing where the sound is coming from?
  • Have difficulty with phonics, reading, or spelling?
  • Have mild speech or articulation problems?
  • Have disruptive behaviors (distracted, impulsive, frustrated)?
  • Often feel anxious or lost?
  • Have a history of ear infections?

These are symptoms of weak auditory processing skills and Auditory Processing Disorder.

Auditory Processing Challenges Misdiagnosed

Auditory processing has a profound impact on learning and behavior, but so often, it is not recognized as being the source of the problem.

My daughter and son both travel extensively for their jobs.  When they are overseas and we speak to them via Skpye, the connection is often very poor – cutting in and out.  As a result, listening and conversation becomes extremely taxing.  We try hard to piece together what each other are saying, but we find that we lose both attention and comprehension.  Conversations can become frustrating and even irritating.

It is obvious when a Skype or cell phone signal is bad, but very difficult to discern when the signal or message that the brain is getting in normal listening is compromised or confusing.  Attention drifts are often associated with an attention deficit.  Poor comprehension and direction following are seen as attention or motivation problems. Frustration, anxiety, and social challenges caused by poor listening skills are often viewed as psychological or emotional issues.

Reading problems almost always have auditory processing challenges at the root – at least in part.  Research tells us that the key factor in success or failure in reading is a set of auditory skills called phonological awareness.  This is the brain’s ability to think abut the sounds and syllables in words.  Without this ability, our phonetic language does not make sense.

Learning difficulties and struggles in school and/or social situations are most often the result of weak or inconsistent learning skills.  These underlying skills cause interference to learning.  Auditory processing skills are some of these underlying skills.

Unfortunately, these skills do not typically improve with time or traditional tutoring.  However, through the use of specifically targeted sound therapy and auditory stimulation and training exercises, the brain can be retrained to perceive and use auditory information more completely, easily, and accurately.

If you or your child are experiencing auditory or other learning challenges and you’re ready for real and permanent changes…

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

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