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Auditory processing

Auditory processing is more than just being able to hear. It’s the ability to identify, remember and interpret the sounds you hear, including the order they happen in, where they come from and the small differences between similar sounds.

Auditory Processing is essential in the development of language skills, communication and comprehension.

If a child is having difficulties with auditory processing, you'll notice that they:

  • Have difficulties concentrating
  • Are easily distracted
  • Have trouble hearing what is being said when there’s a lot of background noise
  • Have difficulty distinguishing the teacher’s voice against other background noise and might not respond when their name is called


If you think a child is having difficulties, you can try the following techniques to help them:

  • Use short, simple, one-concept instructions and, if necessary, repeat them using the same words. As they improve over time, you can make your instructions more complicated, e.g. “Get your shoes”(one step) increase to ,”Get your shoes and your coat” (two step)
  • Try speaking instructions to a rhythm or music
  • Give them some extra time to listen and process the information before expecting them to start an action or task
  • Reduce any background noises where possible. Earplugs or headphones could help with this
  • Make sure they’re close to the source of any sound they should be listening to
  • Limit the amount of time they need to stay focused on listening for
  • Listen to soft music through head phones
  • Give visual cues such as pictures, gestures, signing or visual demonstrations to support what you’re saying
  • Have a number of props during story time and ask them to pick up the right prop when you say its name
  • Play ‘Simon Says’ to help them learn and follow instructions in a fun way
  • Ask them to identify everyday noises, such as birds, bin collection, aeroplanes, traffic
  • Ask them to clap when they hear a particular word or phrase
  • Play musical chairs or statues
  • Act out simple stories or nursery rhymes as they are spoken
  • Play sound bingo
  • Count how many times a specific noise is heard
  • Play Twister
  • Find a hidden ticking clock or watch.

Please bear in mind that these exercises can be very tiring for a child with auditory problems. Be patient and allow them to rest or stop if they need to.

If you’ve tried all of these techniques and you’re still not seeing any improvement after three months, please do speak to your GP.

Online early language development workshops

Our team run online workshops on early language development. They are designed for parents and carers and those working within early years settings. We have three training sessions available on different topics to equip you with everyday strategies to support your child, aged up to five. Find out more information and how to register here.

Auditory memory programmes


Educational and SEN resources


Other support

NHS information on auditory processing disorder