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What Is Auditory Discrimination?

Auditory memory, other processing deficits

There are a number of different auditory processing deficits, cognitive listening difficulties, that can occur in a person with an auditory processing disorder. Auditory processing refers to “what we do with what we hear” and an auditory processing disorder can result from any breakdown in the very broad set of skills that are needed to deal with auditory information including, but not limited to, attention, memory, cognition, and hearing.

A central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is an auditory processing deficit caused by deficiency in those cognitive skills that are subserved by the central auditory mechanism in the brainstem and brain and include the listening skills listed below.
Central auditory processing disorder definition and key facts

For most people a CAPD diagnosis will start with recognizing one of the classic auditory processing disorder symptoms, such as difficulty in sounding out while reading, or language delays. Once signs of auditory processing disorder have been identified, the description of auditory skills listed below will help further refine your understanding of the problem.
auditory processing disorder symptoms

Auditory Discrimination
The skill: The ability to notice, compare and distinguish the distinct and separate sounds in words. This skill is vital for reading.
Difficulties you will observe when auditory discrimination is weak:

  • Learning to read
  • Distinguishing difference between similar sounds. Example: seventy and seventeen
  • Understanding spoken language, following directions and remembering details
  • Seeming to hear but not listen

Auditory Figure-Ground Discrimination
The skill: The ability to pick out important sounds from a noisy background.
Difficulties you will observe:

  • Distinguishing meaningful sounds from background noise
  • Staying focused on auditory information being given. Example: following verbal directions

Auditory Memory
The skill: There are two kinds of auditory memory skills required:

  • Long-term auditory memory, the ability to remember something heard some time ago
  • Short-term auditory memory, the ability to recall something heard very recently

If there is an auditory processing deficit related to auditory memory, here are some difficulties you may observe:

  • Remembering people’s names
  • Memorizing telephone numbers
  • Following multi-step directions
  • Recalling stories or songs

Auditory Sequencing
The skill: The ability to understand and recall the order of words or numbers. An auditory processing deficit related to sequencing undermines language comprehension as the order of words is of critical importance. Difficulties you observe:

  • Confusing multi-digit numbers, such as 74 and 47
  • Confusing lists and other types of sequences
  • Remembering the correct order of a series of instructions

Another way to break auditory processing disorder down is into the sub-type categories: decoding, tolerance-fading memory, auditory integration and prosodic.
Auditory processing disorder sub-types

Programs To Help Auditory Discrimination

Fast ForWord takes a comprehensive approach to treating auditory processing deficits. The first program — Fast ForWord Language for children 5 to 9 years of age or Fast ForWord Literacy for 10 years and older — completed by all Gemm Learning students has separate exercises that isolate and strengthen each of these skills called learning MAPS — Memory, Attention, Processing (for auditory discrimination) and Sequencing.
Auditory processing disorder treatment