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The Auditory Piece of the Dyslexia Puzzle

This section covers the auditory issues that might be causing your child to struggle with reading. Frankly, it is also the section where I am the least certain of the issues involved and of how to address them. In time, I hope to remedy that, but thus far my primary experience has been with phonics training and vision training. Nevertheless, it’s certainly possible that further auditory training beyond the two sets of exercises described here might be necessary in some cases.

It's also possible, since auditory skills are a part of the normal process of child development, that the failure of certain auditory skills to develop on schedule, if at all, could be caused by the same underlying phenomenon that is causing delays in speech skills, vision skills, fine and gross motor skills, etc. If that indeed proves to be the case, then perhaps addressing a deeper root cause, say a nutritional deficit, might permit the auditory skills to develop on schedule.

For now, though, if your child has difficulty with the Auditory Processing Test described in the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program, then you will find the next two pages useful. Just be sure to note the comment on the test regarding the expected performance by younger children. Developmentally, they need to reach about third grade before they can perform at all levels on the test.

If you follow the procedures described on next two pages, Auditory Processing with Tiles and Oral Auditory Processing, then your child should eventually be able to achieve a perfect score on the Auditory Processing Test. However, I have worked with clients who have obviously had other auditory processing issues, or at least processing issues generally, that interfere with their ability to read well even after they have 100% scores on blending, segmenting and auditory processing and code knowledge scores above 90%. In one particular case, it always took an exceptionally long time to retrieve each word, even though he could decode it properly and was pronouncing the individual sounds correctly. As I said at the outset, this is an area I have very little experience.

Incidentally, commerical programs such as Fast Forward, Earobics and PACE might have a significant effect on auditory processing speed, and some claim that this is the case. I just can’t make any personal recommendations due to my lack of experience with any of them.

There’s also an auditory disorder, referred to by the medical community as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD, which many seem to feel causes children to struggle with reading. Again, I have had no experience with it beyond noticing that the diagnosis rarely comes with treatment recommendations that actually solve the problem. I’ve also noticed that the professional educators who resist vision therapy as a treatment are those most likely to fall back on CAPD, or various, often undiagnosed, auditory processing issues as likely reasons for reading failure. This doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but from personal experience I’m certain they’re missing the boat on vision therapy. And if they’re missing that, I tend to question whether they’re grasping at auditory straws to explain what is, to them, unexplainable.

However, as I keep reminding you, this is an area in which I have the little experience, so there could be a great deal of merit in some of these auditory processing approaches. In any case, the exercises on the next two pages are effective in improving one’s ability to manipulate phonemes within a word, and that is an essential reading skill, at least when the language being read is English.

For younger children or for those who tested very poorly on the Auditory Processing Test, start with Auditory Processing with Tiles.

For those children who tested reasonably well, but not 100%, on the Auditory Processing Test, you can skip that page and start at Oral Auditory Processing.