How to support  Auditory Memory in the classroom: From Language Disorders to Differential Diagnosis of Dyslexia.

“Children with Language Impairments have notable deficits in nonword repetition that cannot be attributed to differences in their language knowledge.”

Dolloghan, C. & Campbell, T. F. (1998) Nonword Repetition and Child Language Impairment.  Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 41 1136-1146

I often find myself stuck here. I know there is a close connection to auditory memory and speech and language development. But what do I do about it?

DATA: I always start with data and include a nonword repetition measurement in my assessment. Measurements of auditory memory, using the nonword repetition task, have also been used in our building-wide problem-solving discussions regarding dyslexia.  Difficulties holding and manipulating sounds in auditory working memory can impact phonological awareness skills. A nonword repetition measurement can provide such critical information for language learning and dyslexia screening.  It is now included in all of my screenings.

STRATEGIES:   “Auditory memory deficits include remembering multi-step directions, relating new information to prior knowledge, oral language comprehension, taking notes while listening, verbal fluid reasoning, written expression, and oral expression.  Individuals with deficits and weaknesses can benefit from direct teaching of strategies that can improve working memory performance.”

Dehn, M. J. (2008). Working memory and academic learning: Assessment and intervention. Hoboken, NJ: Jon Wiley & Sons.

These are common strategies that I include in the IEP and provide teachers to help support and develop these crucial skills.  With these strategies in mind, I am able to provide deficit specific strategies for functional development within the classroom.

THERAPY:  Treatment to support auditory memory must be relevant to the student and functional.  This is what I do in therapy to support auditory memory:

  • Include strategy instruction and use within speech therapy sessions.
  • Teach Whole Body Listening
  • Facilitate the following multistep directions with important concepts and details. This resource is an old one, but such a good one!
  • Literature-based therapy has been a great way to incorporate these skills into my regular therapy routine. I systematically increase the length of the phrase I require the student to repeat while reading the book.  We then loop back and answer comprehension questions. This works great for mixed groups focusing on both articulation and language while also facilitating the important foundational skills of auditory working memory.
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