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Dyslexia and Auditory Processing

This video is part of Nessy Dyslexia Training.

The majority of people with dyslexia show problems with short-term verbal memory and experience significant difficulties in auditory processing (not all children have this difficulty).

If children don’t seem to be able to retain spoken information it is important to get a hearing test to make sure there is no physical problem with being able to hear.


What is it?

An easier way to understand auditory processing difficulties (APD) is to think of it as ‘hearing dyslexia’.


What are the difficulties?

It is important to understand the types of challenges these students will face throughout the day.


Repeating instructions

Auditory dyslexia will cause general problems with listening.
Look out for students who always ask for instructions to be repeated and cannot seem to remember even a short list of spoken instructions.

Forgetting Instructions

Verbal sequential memory

Do not expect spoken information to be remembered.
Look out for students who have a poor recall of times tables, months of the year and the alphabet.
Other problems linked to a poor auditory memory can be a difficulty in spelling because they can’t remember the sequence of the letter sounds. Sounding out a sequence of phonemes and blending them will be difficult.


Can’t concentrate

A difficulty staying focused on auditory information being given will mean people with dyslexia may not be able to follow or concentrate on a verbally driven class. Look out for children who are shifting their attention to and from tasks that demand listening and organising vs. reading and copying.

Many dyslexics have difficulty staying focused on one task

Distracted by background noise

People with auditory dyslexia are likely to have problems picking out important sounds from background noise. This will cause a difficulty hearing the teacher in noisy situations.

I Can't Focus When It Is Noisy

Note taking

They struggle to take notes when information is presented orally and at a rapid pace.


Sound discrimination

Difficulty distinguishing different sounds in words (auditory discrimination) e.g. “e” and “i” or similar sounding words e.g. “seventy” and “seventeen”



Thinking of the right word/name and attaching names to places or people is difficult. There is often difficulty thinking of the right word.


Mixing up syllables

Confusing the order of the sounds in multi-syllable words, e.g. “Sundenly” “Shuspicious”


5 Helpful Strategies

Do not rely on auditory teaching methods. Reading aloud and listening are not effective methods of learning for these children. So where auditory channels are weak then teach using visual and kinesthetic (movement and feel) approaches. Spelling rules are auditory and therefore likely to be less effective but this can be off-set by linking visual clues and actions to the strategies. Phonics programs that do not use visual strategies are likely to be ineffective.

    1. Link a funny picture to the word or letters you are trying to remember
    2. Give student one task at a time and talk at a slow pace.
    3. Practice rhyming, segmenting words into syllables, segmenting compound words, sound-blending and using similar sounding words (like obvious/oblivious).
    4. Provide seating near audio source. Example: front of the class or near a video monitor
    5. Eliminate unnecessary background noise during tasks. Example: TV, stereo, outdoor noise



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Visual Processing Dyslexia

Visual Processing Dyslexia is a reduced ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. It is specific to letters and words.

Read more

Phonological Dyslexia

Phonological issues are one of the most important identifiers of dyslexia. It usually involves a difficulty in identifying and manipulating the sounds of language.

Read more