REVIEWED BY NUMBERDYSLEXIA’S EXPERT PANEL ON JULY 27, 2022
Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty in reading. The child can also have challenges identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. Auditory memory involves taking in information that is presented orally to process, store in the mind, and recall when required.
Dyslexia is often linked with, poor auditory working memory and difficulty in remembering the sequence of information that is presented verbally, such as instructions, new vocabulary words, and even names.
In this post, we will discuss the relationship between dyslexia and auditory memory. A few strategies to improve auditory memory have been suggested that could be of help.
Auditory memory: How does learning through oral information work?
Auditory memory is defined as the ability to remember words and sounds; the ability to recall information that is received verbally. The process through which oral information transforms into an auditory memory is done by processing the information first, then storing it in the mind, followed by retrieval of the information, which is important to the strength of an individual’s auditory memory.
If a child struggles with auditory memory, there may be difficulty in following instructions and paying attention. Children learn the language by listening to others. They store sounds and words in their brain and once they’ve heard it many times, they produce them.
Learning through auditory memory is not just retaining the information but also processing it. This is where children with dyslexia face a problem.
Constituents of auditory memory & its synonymity to symptoms of dyslexia
With a basic understanding of auditory memory, It is crucial to know the “how” behind it. Auditory memory works with the help of certain skills, like those of
- Paying Attention
- Listening to the oral information
- Processing the information, simply known as understanding
- Storing the processed information, that is converting the useful information from short-term memory to long-term memory.
- Finally, Retrieving the information from memory as and when required.
Studies suggest that the primary deficit in children with dyslexia is phonological processing. This contributes to the difficulty in understanding the way words are made up of sounds.
Phonological processing problems in individuals with dyslexia are related to
1) A weakness in understanding sounds and oral language patterns
2) Holding on to speech-based information in short-term memory
3) identifying and naming a series of common stimuli such as letters, numbers, colors, or objects.
A lapse in any one of these skills can cause complications in the process and disrupt the formation of auditory memory. Individuals with learning disabilities often have difficulty in getting through to some or all of these steps, thereby impairing their ability to process auditory information.
How dyslexics hear a language is of great importance. Research by Manuel Perea shows that people with dyslexia have more trouble recognizing voices. Results revealed that children or adults with dyslexia were less accurate at identifying voices. The trouble is not in getting the meaning of the language but in processing the sounds of speech.
A study by Mary E. Farmer suggests that in individuals with dyslexia, the areas that show a processing deficit are the timing and sequencing of sounds. This research also proves that there is evidence for a deficit in dyslexics in stimulus individuation tasks (e.g., gap detection) and temporal order judgments in both the auditory and visual modalities.
Students with dyslexia have difficulty remembering the sequence of information that is presented verbally. They struggle to recall verbal instructions given to them. Therefore, teachers, parents, and other caregivers may have to repeat instructions multiple times or instruct them separately, in order to help their children remember and recall.
From the research mentioned above, we can infer that individuals with dyslexia face challenges processing verbal working memory (auditory), Hence, there is a definite need and scope of improvement when it comes to the working memory and phonemic awareness of individuals with dyslexia/specific learning disabilities.
Strategies to improve auditory memory
To harness a child’s complete potential, it is important to have a holistic approach to the learning process. The use of multisensory learning resources can help the students to process information at a deeper level. Nonetheless, if we are aware of the learning style of a student, it would make sense to employ strategies that would focus on improving the associated skills first.
Some of the strategies to eliminate these issues might include:
1. Expanding Sentences
This plan of action involves collaborative functioning and imagination among students, where the task is to spin a story with individual inputs using your imagination. Nevertheless, the turning point of the task is that before the student adds their part, they have to verbalize the part of the story that has been narrated before their turn.
This strategy not only helps in improving the auditory memory skills of the child but also keeps them wilfully engaged without feeling fatigued. This helps in improving the auditory memory of the student considerably.
2. Auditory Associations
Helping the students create auditory associations of words can help in memorizing the information. This can be done by associating previous information or imagination of an object or a person with the name of a sound or a particular auditory stimulus. For example: associating the memory of a four-legged animal with the sound of a woof, the call of a dog.
3. Story Telling
While this might seem like a simple approach, storytelling has been proven as a means of strengthening the mental faculties and cognitive development of children during the year learning processes, as it employs the basic modalities of attending, listening, and processing information to form a memory which are determinant steps of auditory learning and identifies the strength of the memory formed. Storytelling improves memory concentration and executive management, thus enhancing the efficiency of auditory memory among individuals with dyslexia.
We now have a clear picture of how the difficulties associated with dyslexia are synonymous with the features of auditory learning and memory. Most children who develop difficulty with auditory memory and reading have an underlying language processing difficulty. The weak phonological skills compromise auditory memory. Therefore, the process of processing and remembering verbal information is difficult for a child with dyslexia. Thus, it would make sense to employ the above-mentioned remedial approaches to build the cognitive skills of attention and memory among individuals with dyslexia from a younger age. This would allow a better chance at improving the auditory processing skills and prevent the associated issues that an individual faces as they grow.
- Ability for voice recognition is a marker for dyslexia in children. (2018). Perea, Manuel. https://doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000265
- The evidence for a temporal processing deficit linked to dyslexia: A review. (1995). MARY E. FARMER and RAYMOND M. KLEIN.
- The Effectiveness of Storytelling on Improving Auditory Memory of Students with Reading Disabilities in Marivan City, Iran. (2017). Fatemeh Ghaderi. https://doi.org/10.22038/ijp.2017.23877.2019