The following classroom-based strategies may be beneficial in supporting children with auditory processing difficulties.
1. Reduce extraneous background noise – Before beginning verbal instruction, scan the classroom for sources of background noise that could be reduced or elminated before beginning to talk. For example, fans might need to be turned off, the door to the hallway closed, or windows by the playground closed. Any background noise will compete with the teacher’s voice for signal reception by the child’s auditory system.
2. Allow preferential seating – To maximize auditory and visual signals, the child should be seated close to the area of verbal instruction. Preferential seating also means positioning the teacher and/or child to limit other distractions, such as a clear view of the playground or street outside the window, facing a colorful bulletin board, etc.
3. Use visual materials and physical demonstration – It may be beneficial to use a projected computer screen, and overhead projector, or a chalkboard to outline key points. You may write or draw important words, concepts, or assignments on the board or overhead. Demonstrate or physically illustrate points whenever possible. For example, you may decide to use pictures or real objects to accompany verbal instruction. Using hands-on simulations and projects may improve meaning. Backing up auditory information in other modalities (i.e., visual, tactile) as often as possible will help minimize errors in the auditory content revealed.
4. Simplify verbal instructions; try to include only pertinent content – Try to limit the amount of information in each instruction. It is important to present short, focused directions when giving assignments or summarizing information. This may involve dividing complex instruction or material into parts using numbers or steps. When clarifying or responding to a question, try to keep the answer focused and direct.
5. Insure the child’s attention before beginning verbal instruction – Use attention-getting devices, such as telling everyone to “listen” or “pay attention” before pertinent information, addressing the child directly (if it is appropriate, and does not upset him/her), or using a physical touch/cue word.
6. Restate, paraphrase, and emphasize important information – Auditory stimuli are presented and dissipate; they lack the redundancy or permanence of written stimuli. Consequently, it is important for the teacher to emphasize and repeat important verbal material. Some ways to emphasize verbal material, include:
– Repeating important information
– Having the students repeat information after you
– Reviewing old material before adding new to insure appropriate focus
– Relating old and new material
– Using examples to apply and illustrate the information
– Rephrasing material that is complex or abstract
– Using verbal markers and stress to emphasize content (e.g., “this is important!)
7. Monitor use of rate, inflection, and gestures – Try to use body language, facial expressions, verbal emphasis, and gestures to clarify content. Alter the inflection, pitch, speaking rate, and volume of your voice to emphasize key words and emotional content. Pace the lecture with pauses between meaningful units to allow time for comprehension. Watch the students for signs of confusion or lack of concentration.
8. Ask questions to check comprehension of material presented – Ask quick questions now and then, such as who, what, where, when, and how to check for basic comprehension. Give the child time to think and verbally respond to auditory instructions or questions.
9. Use a peer-pairing or buddy system – It isn’t always possible for the teacher to stop and consistently check a student’s comprehension of auditory content for the day. A useful strategy may be to teach the student with auditory processing difficulties to access a designated peer when s/he has questions. This may be more feasible during certain times in the classroom than others.
Reference: Richard, G. J. (2001). The Source for Processing Disorders
Understanding Auditory Processing in Children (ASHA)