Developer: Virtual Speech Center
Processing of Auditory information is a difficulty that affects so many aspects of language development and the ability to address this difficulty in an authentic learning environment is an ongoing challenge for therapists working with these children. All too often, the child performs well within the therapy context, but is unable to transfer these skills to the classroom setting.
Auditory Workout is an App that addresses this need.
Auditory Workout app includes hundreds of audio instructions and a BACKGROUND NOISE Feature that allows users to set background noise (classroom noise), so that learning is authentic.
The App allows children to follow increasingly longer and more complex directions which are divided into four categories
- Basic Directions: 15 levels within this category ranging from “one-step directions with object” to “one-step directions with size, color, object, action, preposition, and object.
- Quantitative and Spatial Directions: 12 levels ranging from “concepts and/or plus an object” to “the concept of first, second, third, and last combined with size, color, and object.”
- Temporal Directions: 18 levels ranging from “the concepts of before plus an object” to “concepts of before/after combined with size and object.”
- Conditional Directions: 15 levels ranging from “conditional directions with object” to “conditional directions combined with size, object, action, preposition, and object.”
Children accumulate basketballs as a reward for each correct response and are rewarded with a game when they accumulate enough balls.
App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score /20
GENERAL INFORMATION & OPERATION
|Content is appropriate
|No in app purchases required for use
|Students can launch and navigate in the app independently
|App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps
|App can be customized for different users
|App can be used for single user or groups
|Content/data can easily be exported
|User data is saved from session to session
|Design graphics/sounds are appealing
|App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user
|6 ½ /9
|App is designed to target speech/language skills
|App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness
|App can be adapted to target speech/language skills
|App encourages critical thinking and higher level language
|App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist
|Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance
|Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment
|App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs
|App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups
17 ½ /20
5 stars 17 – 20 points
4 stars 13 – 16 points
3 stars 9 – 12 points
2 stars 5 – 8 points
1 star 0 – 4 points
- Instructions can be repeated as many times as necessary and if a child fails on a task then the item can be re-done. You must turn the Automatic Paging Feature to OFF in the settings menu in order to do this.
- The app is easy to navigate and can be used by parents with their children for extra practice.
- The Background Noise Level can be turned off or on and adjusted with differing intensity levels.
- The App is very detailed and is well graded so that the child can progress through increasing levels of complexity.
- Reports are specific and you can select a report based on the activity that the child completed or by the time/date that each task was done.
Areas for improvement:
- It would be nice if the Background Noise Level could be adjusted without “ending the session” particularly if the child is having difficulty or there is “sensory overload.”
- Although the incorrect answers are displayed (if this setting is selected), it would be nice if the response to errors was more specific. For example, when targeting the concept “BEFORE”, (Show me the candle before you show me the phone), and the child taps the phone first, both items are shown simultaneously and the concept of BEFORE is not highlighted.
- A record feature would add an additional Expressive Language Dimension to this App.
- It is quite expensive but I cannot find a comparable App and so at this stage it is good value for money.
Thank you to Virtual Speech Center for providing me with this App.
The views expressed are my own.
The frustration of talking to children where information goes “in one ear and out the other” is common to both teachers and parents. But for children with a poor auditory memory, this statement is pretty close to the truth.
Auditory Working Memory is a system for temporarily storing and managing
the information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension
Can you add together 23 and 69 in your head?
When you ask for directions somewhere, can you get there without writing the instructions down?
Such tasks engage working memory, the memory we use to keep information immediately “in mind” so we can complete a task.
Some children find this relatively easy. Others try to carry out the instructions, but lose track of the details along the way.
Auditory Working Memory involves:
- Taking in information that is presented orally and Listening actively in order to rehearse what we have because this information rapidly decays after one or two seconds.
- Attending Selectively in order to repeat the information to ourselves. Research has shown that if short term memory is low, we have a hard time selecting what we wish to hear. In other words, selective attention doesn’t work so well when auditory memory is poor.
- Processing that information for meaning
- Storing it in your mind
- Recalling what you have heard.
A “breakdown” in auditory memory can occur at any point in the pathway
Auditory Memory Pathway
In the classroom, teachers may describe these children as
- Easily distracted
- Forgetting what they have learned,
- Forgetting instructions
- Makes place-keeping errors (skipping or repeating steps)
- Not completing tasks,
- Making careless mistakes,
- Difficulty in solving problems
If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you are right!
A great deal of research in the last few years has shown that low auditory working memory is indeed associated with ADD/ADHD. Some research has shown that stimulant medications can enhance one’s auditory-verbal and visual-spatial working memory. However, there is no long term benefit. In other words, the working memory is improved only as long as the medication is in the system.
However some auditory memory weaknesses of students can easily go undetected by a teacher especially when there are no signs of ADD or ADHD.
Often children with auditory memory problems appear to be trying very hard to listen.
Their eyes are focused on the teacher and they appear to be attentive.
The teacher assumes that the child has heard all that is being taught. However, in reality, they often absorb and make sense out of very little of what is being stated by the teacher.
As a result, these students recall only a small amount or none of what is being said. They might remember a word here or there, or parts of a thought, but often do not truly understand much of the information presented orally to them.
The ability to learn from oral instructions and explanations is a fundamental skill required throughout life.
The following difficulties may arise because of poor auditory memory.
Poor Comprehension of Orally Presented Directions:
- Often the child thinks that he has understood directions for completing an assignment, when actually he has understood very little. As a result, assignments are often completed incorrectly.
- The child may only be able to take-in and think about only three or four words at a time so they only hear three or four words.
- Subconsciously he stops listening in order to process the information.
- Then he listens again.
- As a result, the child loses a word or two from every phrase. The information no longer makes sense and becomes confusing, boring, and hard to pay attention to.
While some children can recall a lengthy sentence well, they may not be able to process and recall a short passage that is presented orally. These students may be able to answer a specific question about the information that has been presented to them orally or that they have read, but are not able to grasp the whole paragraph.
The child thinks that he knows what he has heard or read orally, when actually, he has processed and recalled very little of the material.
Sometimes parents and educators assume that children have understood an entire passage when they answer a specific question about the passage, yet, that specific information might be all that they have gleaned from the passage!
It is therefore important that when reading stories to children, they are encouraged to retell the story with the main idea and supporting details, in order to demonstrate that they have total comprehension.
Difficulty Copying from the Board:
As mentioned in the first example, a child with auditory memory difficulties can often only remember one or two words at a time. He therefore needs to constantly look up at the board, down at his paper, up at the board, down at his paper. Copying from the board is a tedious task for him whereas other children can remember a sentence at a time.
Difficulty Taking Notes:
In order to take notes you need to:
- Listen to the teacher.
- Hold what you have heard in memory while writing it down.
- Continue listening as the teacher continues with the next sentence.
- If you are not writing verbatim what the teacher says, you must also use logic and reasoning to form your own thoughts about what’s being said, while writing, while listening.
If your auditory memory is poor, auditory processing, processing speed, or logic and reasoning, note taking could be practically impossible.
Phonics (sounds) is an auditory learning system and it is imperative to have a sufficient auditory short term memory in order to learn, utilize and understand reading using phonics. The ability to hold speech sounds in memory is needed for tasks such as comparing phonemes, relating phonemes to letters, and sounding out words.
Many poor-spellers depend on memory for spelling and so they don’t do very well. Even someone with a superior memory can only “remember” the spelling of a few hundred words. Spelling is actually an auditory and a visual skill.
You must be able to hear the sounds within the words and to visualize. How often have you spelled a word and recognized, “No, that doesn’t look right?”
Children who memorize spelling words often forget the words soon after the spelling test. The brain says, “I don’t need that anymore,” and dumps the words to make room for next week’s spelling list.
Children may experience difficulty developing a good understanding of words, remembering terms and information that has been presented orally, for example, in history and science classes. These students will also experience difficulty processing and recalling information that they have read to themselves.
When we read we must listen and process information we say to ourselves, even when we read silently. If we do not attend and listen to our silent input of words, we cannot process the information or recall what we have read. Therefore, even silent reading involves a form of listening.
The good news is that auditory memory is trainable and like any muscle the more you exercise it, the more it will improve.
The not so good news is that the capacity for auditory memory appears to have a genetic basis and if you have a poor auditory memory the chances are that you won’t be able to rely on someone in your family for help.