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  • Dr. Vickie Gilding-Bockenkamp

May I have your attention?

“Can I have your attention?” “All eyes to the front of the room?” “Hello! I need your attention now!” How many times have students heard those statements or a variation of those statements in the public-school classroom throughout their years in school? I am sure it may sound like a broken record to many students, especially when the comments are directed specifically at one student…as in “Pay attention, (fill in name), I am only going to say this one time…” Oh no! What about the student who just heard, “I am only going to say this one time?” For the student with a hearing loss or an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), they may only hear the last part of that sentence…or the first part of the sentence. A Students’ typical response to the teacher may be “Could you repeat that?” or “HUH?” or no response at all because they didn’t understand the initial statement or question. Too much background noise, to distracting noise from a leaf blower, traffic, airplane noise, or emergency sirens outside the window of the classroom prevented that student from hearing what needs to be heard. Students with APD are individuals who can hear, they just may not be able to listen for a variety of reasons.

According to the developers of the Listening Program ©, Advanced Brain Technologies, listening is an ability that cannot be seen. The only standard of measurement for listening is through indirect observation and an evaluation of related skills. Listening skills can be divided into two categories, receptive and expressive listening, and language skills. Receptive listening is defined as listening that focuses outside of the self. Receptive listening relates to what this going on in school, home, or work environment and is relative to what others are saying. Lack of receptive listening skills may include difficulty staying focused, a short attention span, easily distracted (especially by noise), oversensitivity to certain sounds, the misinterpretation of requests or questions, and difficulty with sound discrimination. Other areas of concern related to receptive listening skills may include confusion with similar sounding words, the need for repetition and clarification more than usual, the ability to follow only one or two verbal instructions within a sequence. Some individuals may have difficulty understanding discussions, have poor short and long-term auditory memory, and must-read material several times to comprehend the content within the story. These students may also tire easily, become sleepy when listening to speakers or reading. Some individuals with a receptive listening deficit may also have difficulty hearing low male voices or high-pitched female voices and may also accuse other people of speaking too fast.

Expressive listening is defined as listening that demonstrates an internal focus which would include checking, monitoring, and reproducing correctly what one hears, and the sound of one’s voice and speech. Symptoms of weakness in expressive listening skills may include flat and monotonous voice quality, speech that lacks fluency, rhythm, and is hesitant. Individuals may also have difficulty recalling exact word usage, sing out of tune, or demonstrate difficulty reading out loud. These people may also have difficulty summarizing a story, relating isolated facts within a story, or stumble over words when reading aloud. Individuals with expressive listening weakness may also be extremely poor spellers.

All these symptoms of receptive and expressive listening deficits may be a result of an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and are easily mistaken for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). A follow-up appointment with a professional who specializes in Auditory Processing Disorders is recommended. Contact me at info@toolsforlearning.com for additional information.

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