Memory and Auditory Processing- How can we help?
Updated: May 20, 2020
A common issue that I see among the older children I work with (7-14 years) is difficulties with comprehension due to poor working memory and auditory memory.
Some children struggle to remember longer pieces of information or lists of facts which has a negative impact on their academic progress.
Some of them find it hard to retain the spoken or written information in order to process it.
Without the ability to listen to, retain and process information, it is harder for children to remember it. Luckily there are lots of strategies and activities we can do to help them.
Rehearse and Repeat
We need to be able to repeat back some of the information we hear (or read) in order to pick out the important bits.
Think of a conversation you’ve had with yourself about what to buy in the shop: “I need to remember to buy milk, bread and biscuits” (I love biscuits 🍪). You repeat the words to yourself while you walk between the aisles “milk, bread, biscuits”. Even better if you have a written list.
This is the same principle for the children we work with. We need to teach them how to rehearse and repeat things/words/lists.
It's not easy for everyone
For some children this repeating and rehearsing is difficult.
Think of learning your times tables, your favourite song or your phone number. You had to repeat the words/numbers/information over and over until you remembered it.
In order for the information to move into our long-term memory, it must be repeated and rehearsed a lot.
By regularly rehearsing and repeating information it doesn’t get forgotten.
What can I do about it?
There are some simple games that you can play with individual children or in small groups. Have you ever played “I went shopping…”? It’s a classic but helps to train our verbal list-building skills.
I have created an e-book packed with 6 games for you to use as a weekly programme over a half term, or to dip into as single activities.
I’ve also included a Speech and Language Record Sheet for you to track the activities you’ve completed and to log the progress of the children you work with.
How Do I do the games?
I’ve created an online course with 4 instructional videos, as well as an introduction and theory presentation to help you to understand how to do some of my top recommended games and why.
There’s a handy printout for you to download and share with your colleagues on ‘Strategies to Support Auditory Memory Difficulties’ in the course too.
Does it work?
I’ve used all of these games in individual therapy sessions and also written some of the ideas in my speech and language programmes for children to work with their families at home.
With the shopping game we have bought silly items or included adjectives to expand the language. For some children who also have speech sound difficulties, we’ve only shopped for items beginning with the target sound. For example, one child was working on /s/ so we “went shopping and bought soap, socks, salt, salad, snakes, sea lions, Santa!”
I’ve even played some of the games in the car with my own children, instead of going shopping, we “go on a picnic and pack…” or “I went on a boat trip and took…”
From my experience, the children who have made the best progress are those who play the games regularly. The more fun they have, the better their skills improve.