Auditory Difficulties - Help, Support & Resources

Auditory (Hearing) Problems &
Picture of an Ear

Picture of an Ear

Dyslexia (SpLD’s)

In Britain over eight million people suffer from a hearing loss, over 25,000 of these are children.  One million children (0-8 years) will experience temporary deafness caused by glue ear.

The Developmental Therapies listed below have been used in respect of dyslexia and other learning difficulties.

In Britain over eight million people suffer from a hearing loss, over 25,000 of these are children. Deafness is often associated with older people. But many are born deaf or profoundly deaf – others become so after an illness. One million children (0-8 years) will experience temporary deafness caused by glue ear
With so much research carried out over the last few decades, it is now universally accepted that some dyslexics have problems with auditory skills.

Some people who go for a standard hearing test can be given the ‘all clear’ and yet they can still be suffering from some form of hearing problem. This seems to be because some people appear to be hypersensitive to certain sounds/frequencies, asymmetrical. If someone perceives sounds differently in their right or left ear, this can lead to problems with sound discrimination – a major problem for dyslexics.

Another consideration when looking at auditory problems is the crucial part that the brain plays. Most of the therapies below are designed to normalize the auditory system, thereby changing how the brain processes and organizes the input received from the ears.

There are a significant number of related therapies listed in this section to help you. Most of them look at the possibility of ‘normalising’ hearing to aid learning. If you choose to have any of these treatments, a full assessment of the person’s auditory system should be conducted to ascertain if the person is suitable for the type of therapy on offer.

Auditory Training may seem quite complicated, but it simply means – fully testing the ears and training them to listen and to respond to appropriate treatment. This treatment may take a few months or several years. If successful it can be a tremendous help to the client.

Glue Ear
Often the only sign of ‘glue ear’ in the very young child is when they fail to start talking properly. However, these problems are often picked up when the child has a hearing test at six months of age, and then just before starting school.

If glue ear is not treated, these children may continue to have problems with talking, reading and writing.

There are several different ear tests available some work on high frequency notes. Therefore, it is important to go back to your doctor or health visitor and ask for another check up if you feel there may still be a problem.

Glue Ear

What is ‘glue ear’? This is a common condition in childhood. The tube can become obstructed by adenoids at the back of the nose, the air cannot enter the middle ear, and the cavity fills with fluid. The eardrum becomes dark looking. As time goes on the fluid becomes thicker until it has the consistency of thick glue. Often the only sign is deafness and children’s schooling may suffer and behaviour may deteriorate.

In a lot of cases it will clear up by itself but in severe cases treatment will involve making a small hole in the drum, usually under anaesthetic. A tube (grommet) may be inserted; then the adenoids may be removed. Adenoids usually disappear at puberty and most children with glue ear do not need treatment after this time. The hearing is usually restored to normal.

Listening checklist
A Tool to See if You or Your Child May Have a Listening Problem

We cannot “see” listening. The only way to “get at it” is indirectly—through skills that are related to it in one way or another. This checklist, developed by Canadian Tomatis practitioner, Paul Madaule, is from *When Listening Comes Alive) and offers a catalogue of abilities, skills or qualities that will enable you to assess whether you or your child may have a listening problem. There is NO score. This is simply a tool for you to evaluate your own or your child’s ability to listen, and thus to learn. Check as many boxes, as you feel appropriate.

Developmental History:
Our early years
This knowledge about our younger years is extremely important in early identification and prevention of listening problems. It also sheds light on possible causes of listening problems.
A stressful pregnancy
Difficult birth
Early separation from the mother
Delay in motor development
Delay in language development
Recurring ear infections
Receptive Listening:
Our external environment
This type of listening is directed outward to the world around us. It keeps us attuned to what’s going on at home, at work, in the classroom or with friends
Short attention span
Over-sensitivity to sounds
Misinterpretation of questions
Confusion of similar-sounding wordsFrequent need for repetition
Inability to follow sequential instructions
Expressive Listening:
Our internal atmosphere
This is the kind of listening that is directed within us. We use it to listen to ourselves and to gauge and control our voice when we speak and sing.
Flat and monotonous voice
Hesitant speech
Weak vocabulary
Poor sentence structure
Overuse of stereotyped expressions
Inability to sing in tune
Confusion or reversal of letters
Poor reading comprehension
Poor reading aloud
Poor spelling
Motor Skills:
Our physical abilities
The ear of the body (the vestibule), which controls balance, muscle and eye coordination and body image needs close scrutiny also.
Poor posture
Fidgety behavior
Clumsy, uncoordinated movements
Poor sense of rhythm
Messy handwriting
Hard time with organization, structure
Confusion of left and rights
Mixed dominance (of hands?)
Poor sports skills
The Level of Energy:
Our fuel system
The ear acts like a dynamo (a powerful motor), providing us with the “brain” energy we need to not only to survive but also to lead fulfilling lives.
Difficulty getting up
Tiredness at the end of the day
Habit of procrastinating
Tendency toward depression
Feeling overburdened with everyday tasks
Behavioral and Social Adjustment:
Our relationship skills
A listening difficulty is often related to these qualities of interacting with others.
Low tolerance for frustration
Poor self-confidence
Poor self-image
Difficulty making friends
Tendency to withdraw or to avoid others
Low motivation, no interest in school/work
Negative attitude toward school/work
by Dr Colin Lane

A.R.R.O.W & Dyslexia

Wie bitte?The Improvement of Listening, Reading and Spelling Skills of Dyslexic Students


Hearing is a physiological state, which depends upon an intact outer, middle and inner ear hearing system. In the outer ear system, sound is carried through the ear canal to the eardrum. At the eardrum the sound is conducted into the middle ear system through a series of bones. These in turn send sound into the inner ear system. In the inner ear system, the sound is changed into electrical impulses before being sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. Any defect in either of the outer, middle or inner ear systems can cause a hearing loss. This hearing loss can, in turn, cause problems in speech, communication and literacy skills. Most deaf school leavers have experienced severe problems in reading and spelling despite having the normal range of intelligence.

Fortunately, the greater proportion of dyslexic children has an intact hearing system. However, despite having normal hearing, they usually have other auditory problems.


Listening, here defined as auditory attention, does not require a fully intact hearing system. Listening is an acquired skill. Listening varies from child to child among the normally hearing or hearing impaired populations.

There is strong evidence to show that there are normally hearing students of all ages and abilities who experience severe problems when listening to speech in background noise. These auditory problems have the most significant effect upon their progress in terms of reading and spelling.

auditory attention span

Listening involves focusing and maintaining auditory attention. The listener needs to select the spoken word and then reject any relevant input such as background noise. Some mature motivated students maintain auditory attention for 45 minutes or more. In younger or easily distracted children, such attention may only be a few minutes. There are many cases of students with reading and spelling difficulties experiencing severe auditory attention problems. Auditory attention is trainable.

the arrow technique

Young students learn better by listening to themselves and indeed prefer to listen to their own voices. The student’s own voice, heard within the head, is that which is universally applied in memory tasks and for internal thought. A technique called A.R.R.O.W. has been developed from the use of the self-voice. A.R.R.O.W. is an acronym for Aural – Read – Respond – Oral – Write. The student listens to the tutor’s voice through headsets and repeats it. At the same time, the student reads text. The recording of the students self-voice then forms the basis of the Arrow work. This work requires the student to take down dictation from passages of information, and precision spellings. The student checks the accuracy of the work undertaken. A.R.R.O.W. programme’s are centred upon National Curriculum requirements. When used in further education colleges, vocational and other curriculum work may be used.


The ARROW self voice technique can make a swift and dramatic impact on the listening, auditory processing and literacy skills of dyslexic students. Trained ARROW teachers and assistants are achieving up to eight months progress in reading and/or seven months progress in spelling within a total of two hours one to one tuition time. This tuition time can be split up as necessary. The students are required to work a further four hours, a little at a time, on their own, in order to complete a programme. Some teachers are reporting up to two or even three years progress following a series of two or three short interventions.
Students quickly learn how to attend more effectively. Some students with attention problems can improve their listening in background noise up to and beyond the level of an adequate listener.

In addition to the literacy and listening improvements other learning skills improve. Teachers report that student’s self-esteem rises as does handwriting and their general classroom performance.

differentiation, short term memory and the tutor

The Arrow programme recognises the strong need for all reading and spelling work to be set within the student’s ability level. Differentiation is therefore a corner stone of the system together with the importance of the working short-term memory. Precision spellings are set within word families, frequently used words and similar sounding words having a dissimilar letter pattern. The Arrow tutor quickly establishes a starting level with a student on the programme. The tutor next helps the student make as near a perfect recording of the self-voice as possible whilst ensuring that the student remains on task.

flexibility of training

The Arrow system is so flexible that Arrow training for students can be given within a week or spread over several weeks according to timetable/curriculum requirements. Students can work on our own or within groups.

Current and future technology requirements

A special audiocassette recorder is used to make recordings of the student’s voice. An ordinary cassette player can be used when the student is listening to the tape. The Arrow approach is now being used on CD-ROM.

arrow centres

Arrow help is available for students through mainstream education. Where students cannot access these facilities Arrow provision also operates within specialist Arrow Centres. These Centres can be at schools or colleges already using Arrow but offers help to students from outside their own particular school or college. In addition, tutors operating from selected sites or operating from their own premises can provide help. Students attending Arrow Centres usually attend on a short once-weekly lesson for five or six weeks or undertake distance learning programme’s.

arrow tutor training

Arrow Tutor training programme’s operate on a regional basis. The Arrow programme has received national accreditation as an Advanced BTEC Award for Arrow Tutors. The training programme is essentially practical. During the course, trainee tutors attend a regionally based Arrow Centre for four separate days. The remaining part of the programme requires a tutor to use the technique with their students. A report is submitted at the end of the third term of the programme. The course is open to professionals in the field of education and health. In some cases, selected parents have been trained to work with their children.
Training courses are available for children and teachers.

For further information, please contact ARROW at –


In 1982, a French, Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, Dr Alfred Tomatis, invented a device called an ‘Electronic Ear’.

Tomatis used this device to normalize hearing and the way the brain processes information. He believed that the root cause of many learning difficulties was due to the ‘way we listen’ and if we did not ‘listen’ properly we could have impaired hearing, this in turn could lead to dyslexia. He went on to develop a highly effective technique to remedy this problem.

Tomatis was not only a leader in his field; he was also one of the first audiologists that believed that dyslexia was related more to the ear than the eye (as is the belief in other medical areas).

The method uses specially modified auditory feedback in a broad range of frequencies; this approach is extremely useful for children with auditory processing problems. (A lot of people with dyslexia have auditory processing problems.)

These treatments aim was to re-pattern a child’s hearing range.

Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

Auditory Integration Training was developed in 1982, by a French ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist, Dr Guy Berard, to normalize hearing and the way the brain processes information. Berard realised that many people with acute hearing problems often had learning disorders such as dyslexia, ADHD and other learning difficulties.

Some people have different hearing levels in each ear. Others can have hearing problems which include: hypersensitivity to certain frequencies; when right and left ears perceive sounds in different ways this can lead to poor sound discrimination – leading onto learning difficulties.

AIT helps people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties by developing better concentration, awareness of decreased sound sensitivity. Berard’s, book: ‘Hearing Equals Behaviour’, (ISBN: 0-87983-600-8) published by Keats has some good case samples.

Some students with ADHD have also reported less impulsivity and restlessness and reduction in-distractibility.


The Lexiphone method was developed in the mid-70’s by a psychiatrist and Professor of Psychology, Dr Isi Beller, who has spent more than 25 years researching dyslexia.

An audio-feedback uses artificial means to re-educate automatic language processing without the awareness of the student

The Lexiphone method is to retrain auditory attention and speech awareness during selected listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities.

The Lexiphone method is said to help people with auditory problems and dyslexia.

Interactive Metronome

For centuries, musicians have used a metronome to help them keep time. Recently, it has hit the headlines as work is being carried out with clients with dyslexia and ADHD.

Interactive Metronome apparently has undergone scientific trials, and, is said, amongst other things, shown improvement in Attention and Concentration, Motor Control and Coordination

The Metronome helps train the brain to plan, sequence and process information more effectively through repetition of interactive exercises. The Interactive Metronome program involves repeated hand, toe, and heel exercises.

Interactive Metronome therapy is said to help people with many disorders, including: , Autism Disorder, ADHD, dyslexia and many others.


SAMONAS is an acronym of ‘Spectral Activated Music of Optimal Natural Structure’. It is another form of electronically tailored music therapy, developed in Germany by a physicist, Ingo Steinbach.

The system is said to train the auditory system to process the full range of sound without distortion, hypersensitivity, or frequency loss.

SAMONAS is said to help people with hearing loss, improved speech, hypersensitive hearing, auditory processing problems, ADHD, dyslexia and other difficulties. Some therapists claim it can also help with auditory discrimination problems.

Music Therapy

Music Therapy is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of people.

Music Therapy is carried out by music therapists, who use their training as musicians, clinicians, and researchers to effect changes in, amongst others, cognitive, physical and emotional skills. The Music Therapists, assess the strengths and needs of each client, then indicates the type of treatment required.

This could involve: singing; creating; dancing to; and listening to music.
Music therapy helps people by developing better concentration and awareness of decreased sound sensitivity.

Music Therapy can be used to help people with dyslexia, ADHD and other learning difficulties by helping with auditory discrimination of sounds (a major problem for dyslexic people) and helps with organizational skills. It also helps clients to stay calm and increases creativity. Clients who have used this therapy say they have an: improved attention span; better memory skills and increased self-esteem.

Clients develop a greater sense of awareness and develop greater confidence, which in turn leads to improved self-esteem.

Auditory Help & Advice

British Deaf Association
Contains the latest information about the deaf association and the British Sign Language.

National Deaf Children’s Society
Helps families, parents and carers to maximise their skills and abilities.

RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People)
Leading charity campaigns for improvements in facilities and services.The RNID are operating a campaign allowing people to take an instant telephone hearing check. The whole check will take you less than 5 minutes. Visit their website for further details.

Auditory Overcoming Addiction for the Sensory Impaired

“A Guide to Overcoming Addiction for the Sensory Impaired”

I have just completed an interesting article about Overcoming Addiction for the Sensory Impaired. This collates many of my findings over the years.
The title of this article is “A Guide to Overcoming Addiction for the Sensory Impaired” and it covers:
• The role of childhood experiences
• Additional risk factors for the sensory impaired
• Substance use disorders & the disabled
• Treatment considerations for the deaf
• Treatment considerations for the blind
• Components of treatment
• How Treatment is Tailored to the Needs of the Sensory Impaired
• Where to Find help
You can find my article here:

Read this useful guide to addiction and the sensory impaired by Ollie Clark.

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