Common terms and what they mean

Visual and auditory processing weaknesses

Visual and auditory processing are the processes of recognizing and interpreting information taken in through the senses of sight and sound. Since so much information in the classroom and at home is presented visually and/or verbally, the child with an auditory or visual perceptual disorder can be at a disadvantage in certain situations.

Visual processing disorder

What is it?
A visual processing weakness refers to a difficulty making sense of information taken in through the eyes. This does not mean that the student has a problem with sight. Difficulties with visual processing affect how visual information is processed by the brain.

Auditory processing disorder

What is it?
An auditory processing weakness refers to an individual’s ability to make sense of information taken in through the ears. This is different from problems involving hearing such as deafness. Difficulties with auditory processing do not affect what is heard by the ear, but do affect how this information is interpreted, or processed by the brain. An auditory processing problem can interfere directly with speech and language and also affect all areas of learning, especially reading and spelling. When instruction in school relies mostly on spoken language, the student with an auditory processing disorder may have serious difficulty understanding the lesson or instructions given.

Phonological awareness

What is it?
Phonological awareness is the understanding that language is made up of individual sounds (phonemes) which are put together to form the words we write and speak. This knowledge is vital in the reading and writing process. Children who have difficulty with phonological awareness will often be unable to recognize or isolate the individual sounds in a word, recognize similarities between words (as in rhyming words), or be able to identify the number of sounds in a word. These deficits can affect all areas of language including reading, writing, and understanding of spoken language.

Though phonological awareness develops naturally in most children, the necessary knowledge and skills can be taught through direct instruction for those who have difficulty in this area.

A multi-sensory approach

What is it?
A multi-sensory approach to teaching means to use teaching style that combines visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles. The basic principle is if you hear, see and do you are most likely to remember the lesson.

Working Memory

What is it?
Working memory is used to hold things in the head for a short space of time and dyslexics are often poor at retrieving or recalling a sequence of written or heard information “they cannot hold it in their head which causes information to become jumbled or partially forgotten. The student knows they know the information but can’t quite remember it, which is a source of great frustration so it is important to be patient and encouraging!


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