By: Kim Lorenzet, MS, CCC-SLP

Do you want to learn more about auditory processing disorder and activities to add to your toolbox? Continue reading to learn about the areas of development that can be affected by this disorder. This article will also explore activities to complete with your child to improve their auditory processing skills.

Terms To Know:

Auditory discrimination: The ability to notice, compare and distinguish between distinct and separate sounds (“sixty” and “sixteen” may sound alike).

Auditory figure-ground discrimination: The ability to focus on the important sounds in a noisy setting.

Auditory memory: The ability to recall what you’ve heard (immediately or delayed).

Auditory sequencing: The ability to understand and recall the order of sounds and words. A child might say or write “resternaut” instead of “restaurant,” or hear the number 257 but write 725.

Children with auditory processing disorder often:

  • Have difficulty following spoken directions, particularly multi-step instructions
  • Ask speakers to repeat what they’ve said
  • Are easily distracted, especially by background noise or loud and sudden noises
  • Have difficulty remembering details of what was read or heard
  • Have trouble with reading and spelling
  • Struggle with word math problems
  • Find it hard to follow and contribute to conversations
  • Have less than average musical ability

Auditory Processing Activities

I Went to Grandma’s

  • Adult- “I went to Grandma’s and in my suitcase I packed _____”.
  • The child takes a turn and says, “I went to Grandma’s and in my suitcase I packed (adult’s item) and _______”.
  • Continue taking turns. Go slowly.

Sound Effects Detective

  • Blindfold your child and have an older sibling or parent make noises in the house for your child to identify.
  • Some examples include: turning pages of a magazine, clicking the keyboard of a laptop, getting a spoon from drawer, opening a squeaky door, opening a fridge, pushing a button on the microwave, turning on an electric toothbrush, zipping/snapping a coat, opening blinds, turning on a faucet, or shaking your keys.

Auditory Attending

  • Attend to sound pattern/rhythmic patterns for your child to repeat (clap slow, clap fast, tap different items).

Discriminate Sounds

  • Are the sounds near or far, loud or soft, high pitch or low pitch?

Awareness of Phoneme Sounds

  • Initial consonant- have your child identify which words begins with the target sound   
  • Think of words that begin with the target sound
  • Find pictures of words that begin with the target sound
  • Identify which word in a list of words begin with a specific target sound

Back to Back game

  • Two children sit back to back. Each person gets a sheet of paper, the same geometric shapes/colors as their partner, scissors, and crayons/markers. Each child calls out an instruction using specific language such as “get the large, red triangle and put it in the center of the paper.” At the end, the pictures should look exactly the same. This can also be completed if a  barrier is placed between two people, such as a folder or box, so each player cannot see the other player’s materials.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (silly Simon Says)

  • Give the child 1-3 step directions, however, perform an action that is different from the direction. (Say “clap your hands” while you are snapping, “touch your toes” while touching your ears). Have the child identify the mismatch.

Beanbag Toss

  • Give a two-step direction using a bean bag color (“throw the blue, then the green beanbag”).
  • Give a direction to listen for the initial or final sounds (“throw the color beanbag that starts with the same sound as the word ‘baby’” – child throws the blue beanbag).

At Home Strategies

  • Reduce background noise whenever possible
  • Have the child look at you when you’re speaking
  • Use simple sentences
  • Utilize a slower rate
  • Use an increased volume
  • Ask the child to repeat directions back to you
  • Help the child to identify noisy environments and inform them that it is okay to move to a quieter environment to help focus and follow directions
  • Your child can use note writing and a watch to facilitate day to day activities
  • Sit close to the speaker
  • Break down directions and tasks into smaller steps