The term auditory processing is quite broad, but for the present purposes it at least encompasses a person’s ability to: a) blend sounds into words, b)segment sounds from spoken words and c) manipulate phonemes within words.
The Auditory Processing Test that is described in the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program actually tests just one subskill within phoneme manipulation. That is one’s ability to delete a designated sound, or phoneme, from a word when asked to do so. It would more accurately be labeled a Phoneme Deletion Test.
If your child could not achieve a suitable score on the Auditory Processing Test (and remember, first and second graders will normally not score 100% because there are some developmental abilities involved) then you can take the following actions:
First, take a look at the book Reading Reflex and try the auditory processing exercises at the CVC, CVCC and CCVC levels using manipulatives in the manner they describe. You can use Scrabble tiles, or a child’s toy letter set for this purpose, since only individual letters are required.
You want your child to be able to change a word like hot to hop when you orally instruct him to do so. He’s looking at hot spelled out in front of him and you run your finger across the letter tiles and say “This is hot. Show me hop.” If your child has trouble, slow the process down and tell him to listen carefully to hear what sound you are saying when your finger is over each letter tile. Don’t segment the word for him. Just drag out the word more slowly and move your finger across the letters so that you’re pointing at the sound you’re currently emphasizing. That is, you say “hhhhooooop,” not “h….o….p.”
Essentially, you are building his ability to tie the visual images of the individual letters to the auditory input he’s receiving. You will also learn that some sounds are easier to drag out than others which can be useful information if your child is having a particularly difficult time getting started. For instance, compare ham (hhhhhaaaaammmmmm) to pot (poooot). Obviously, you will be giving your child more opportunity to connect the visual to the auditory with ham than with pot. Again, it is important that you not say the words in segmented fashion. The sounds, though dragged out, must remain connected in this exercise so that your child can practice taking them apart, that is, segmenting the words into their component parts. Don't do it for him.
After your child is competent at switching, adding and subtracting sounds in CVC words, move to CVCC words like hand and fast since it is usually easier for a new reader to work next at this level than it is at the CCVC level with words like flip and trap. Because you will probably have trouble coming up with actual words to switch sounds in, it’s all right to use nonsense words here. For instance, change fast to fask.
After your child is competent at switching phonemes, and at adding phonemes ("This is top. Show me stop.”) and deleting phonemes ("This is crop. Show me cop.”) it is time to move to a purely auditory exercise, similar to the process done during the Auditory Processing Test. I’ve devised a comprehensive word list for this purpose which you can find on the next page, Oral Auditory Processing.