Approximately 99% of students with attention deficit disorders (ADD) or attention deficit with hyperactivity (ADHD) disorders experience serious weaknesses in the area of auditory memory. However, there are also students who are not ADD or ADHD who experience weaknesses in auditory memory. Students who have difficulties with auditory memory experience difficulty attending to verbal input, processing this information and storing it in their minds for immediate or long term recall.
Many adults find it difficult to focus on information being presented to them orally and to recall what a person has said to them. All too often, we find young waiters and waitresses taking an order and then bringing the wrong order to the customer simply because they were not able to focus on the oral information given to them. "I didnít order decaffeinated coffee," you might say. "I ordered decaffeinated tea." Because these young people are so attuned to having people ask for decaffeinated coffee, they do not focus on what is actually being requested.
Have you experienced having someone who is making an appointment for you or recording a message struggle to record your telephone number as you recite the numbers to them? Generally they end up asking you to repeat numbers over and over again or tell them your telephone number two numbers at a time. This is a person who has never learned how to listen to a series of numbers to develop the skill needed to focus on a series of numbers and recall them.
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Where does this inability to attend, listen, and recall isolated units of information begin? It begins in elementary school when a student, especially one who has ADD or is ADHD, finds it difficult to remain focused in the classroom to attend, listen, and recall orally presented information. If this student is not taught how to listen well, he or she will end up being one of those adults who cannot function properly and remember details on the job. So training and/or remediation of auditory memory should be taught as early as possible.
Researchers have determined that each aspect of memory is specific unto itself. That is, there is one part of the brain that controls listening for information presented in isolation or a series, and another part of the brain that controls listening for information presented in context. Therefore, when we are teaching students how to improve their listening skills, we must keep this in mind.
Listening for information presented in isolation or a series would involve such aspects as listening for a series of numbers, letters, or words. If you ask your student to turn to page 35 and do the addition in rows 2, 4, and 5; does he ask you to repeat the page number or the rows? If you say to your student, "We are going to learn to count by 2ís. Can you repeat this after me: 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10?" Does you student have a difficult time remembering a series of, for example, 5 numbers? If you are teaching the names of the five great lakes or the seven continents, can your student recall the series of words you just told him? Or must you repeat the series over and over again before your student can recall the succession?
There are various techniques that teachers and parents can use to teach their children to become better listeners. Working on these skills consistently can bring about astonishing improvement in a studentís ability to take in orally presented information and recall what he has heard. This then brings about an ease of learning and sets the student up for working at his full potential. Good listening skills are essential for learning and for the security of performing well on future jobs.
Addie Cusimano is recognized internationally for her highly effective teaching materials such as Auditory Memory in Context Instructional Workbook
The author is an educational therapist who has been active in the field of education for more than forty years. She received a B. S. degree in Education with psychology as a concentration. She also earned a M.S. degree in Education with a concentration in reading, and a reading specialist certification. She holds permanent New York State and Pennsylvania teaching certifications. She has taken supplementary graduate courses in the field of learning disabilities and has done extensive independent research and clinical studies in this field.
Ms. Cusimano has worked as a classroom teacher and reading specialist for New York State public school systems. She was director, diagnostician and clinician of a private learning center in New York State for close to twenty years. The Center specialized in working with learning disabled students but also offered programs for slow learners, average students and an advanced program for gifted students.
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