Children learn to hear and process the difference between the speech sounds so they can tune their auditory discrimination skills.
It is difficult to determine a child’s level of hearing neurological maturity as the auditory brain is not expected to reach adult maturity until approximately the grade 4 level of schooling. Children can be assessed y an audiologist using a specialised hearing assessment called a central auditory processing assessment, however children tend not to be eligible for this assessment until they reach 6-7 years of age as they need to be capable of sitting the detailed test and have developed some literacy skills.
There is no doubt that a number of children who present with communication impairments have co-existing auditory challenges or auditory processing immaturity or disorder that is the actual cause of the speech condition forming. This is why it is so important to provide therapy for these skills as well to ensure that the auditory brain is learning the skills to process spoken information so that great speech and language can develop.
There are many skills that occur in the mind and integrate to process speech and language skills, however it is probably best to start at the most obvious skill next to auditory attention (the ability to focus and attend to speech) and auditory perception (how our auditory skills are perceiving this auditory information). This skill is auditory discrimination of speech sounds.
Once your child has learned who the phonic all stars are, what is their favourite speech sound and what is their hand signal, they are ready to learn to discriminate the sounds apart from each other. Some sounds are only different by a distinctive features such as the voice vibrating or not vibrating or the using the front or the back of the tongue and this can make it difficult for kids to hear the sounds apart. Especially look out for these sounds getting mixed up..
- contrasted by voice: p/b, t/d, k-c/g, s/z, f/v
- contrasted by front & back tongue: n/ng, t/k, d/g,
- contrasted by tongue-teeth placement: th/f, th/v
- contrasted by flow of air/stop of air: p/f, b/v, t/s, d/z
So how do we do the task…
Ask your child to …
Remember to keep your voice like a whisper sound.
Use the hand signal if they struggle to work out what the speech sound is. Then call out the name of the character… or give a hint …
“She is like a candle and doesn’t like to be blown out.”
If they continue to struggle, I point to 3-4 pictures and ask,
“which one is “puh”.
Once your child knows all the consonants then move on to the vowel sound card.
Once they know all the 46 sounds then move onto 2-3-4 sounds in a sequence. For instance
“Now find…puh (P) …duh (D). “
They must do it in the sequence you say and from left to right just like a word is formed. This is important to strengthen the children’s auditory memory and auditory sequencing skills.