Auditory dyslexia means a person has difficulty processing the basic sounds of language. Our ability to process basic sounds is called phonemic awareness, and if your child is having trouble with this, they could have auditory dyslexia or a related auditory processing disorder.
Auditory dyslexia is often called Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). It is the more widely recognized medical term for auditory dyslexia. Children with APD and auditory dyslexia will find it difficult to understand:
- people speaking in loud places
- fast talkers or people with thick accents
- homophones and similar-sounding words
- spoken instructions
Their brain may fuse multiple sounds into one singular sound. So, for example, they will hear the word ‘back’ as one sound instead of the numerous / – /a/ – /ck/.
People with auditory dyslexia may also hear sounds in a reversed or jumbled-up order. A classic example of this hears ‘pasghetti’ instead of ‘spaghetti.’
The hearing of a child with auditory dyslexia may be fine (always check with a specialist), but their brain processes the information incorrectly or differently; this means that auditory dyslexia is not a hearing impairment.
Symptoms of Auditory Dyslexia
Not all people who have dyslexia have trouble processing sounds correctly, and symptoms can vary in lots of ways. Common signs include;
- Difficulty pronouncing R’s, Th’s, and L’s
- They have trouble comprehending something they have only just heard
- Difficulty hearing when there is background noise
- Often misunderstanding what others say to them
- Scrambling multisyllabic words
- Difficulty following a list of instructions
The difference between dyslexia and auditory dyslexia
Dyslexia is the difficulty processing and manipulating language, whereas auditory dyslexia is the difficulty processing sounds.
These differences are essential because they change the interventions practiced to help the child. For example, children with auditory dyslexia will struggle to recall verbal instructions given to them. Therefore, teachers, parents, and other caregivers may have to repeat instructions multiple times or provide them separately to help their children.
Similarly, children with auditory dyslexia may have difficulty writing notes when verbal information is given.
Can you Treat Auditory Dyslexia?
There is no ‘cure’ for auditory dyslexia, but targeting interventions and adaptations to suit the needs of children with auditory dyslexia will ensure that their learning is not affected. Interventions for auditory dyslexia and APD are focussed on improving the listening, concentration, and inference skills of children with the condition. Auditory training like this can happen in several different ways and is often supported by a hearing specialist. However, in the section below, there’s a detailed list of teaching strategies that can be used in the classroom or at home to help students with auditory dyslexia.
Teaching Strategies for Children with Auditory Dyslexia
Here are some techniques to compensate for the auditory deficit caused by auditory dyslexia.
Thoroughly Teach Phonemes
Before a child suffering from auditory dyslexia can move on to sentences and paragraph structures, they need to have gone through a rigorous program to master the sounds of words and how to make those sounds themselves. It can include teaching them basic skills, such as where to position their lips and tongue when making particular sounds.
Each person will process sounds differently from the next person, so it’s essential to distinguish what areas of learning sound each child needs help with. As dyslexic people need lots of repetition to learn effectively, it’s a good idea to spend time teaching 1 on 1.
Use Multi-Sensory Methods
Encourage children to draw on other learning methods to make up for their auditory deficit. It can be simple and includes seeing the letters, touching them, and moving them around as they hear them out loud.
Adapt the Space
Make sure there’s a nice quiet place for your children with auditory dyslexia to learn, as they may struggle with too much background noise. It will also be useful to provide worksheets with simple instructions. Similarly, it might benefit students with auditory dyslexia to be closer to the front of the class so they can hear instructions and audio from any speakers more clearly.
Change the Pace
It might seem simple, but because students with auditory dyslexia struggle to process verbal instructions, speaking more slowly can help them. You could even give your entire class instructions at a normal pace but approach students with auditory dyslexia individually and ask if they need anything repeated.