What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

Children with APD are often misdiagnosed with other disorders such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Untreated, APD can drastically distort social and educational experiences of every kind. The child retreats into his own head. Disinterest in the surrounding social world that they are unable to reasonably sort out coupled with problems communicating and learning appears to parents, teachers, and doctors alike as an attention problem. To the inexperienced observer, the child’s moodiness, tantrums, social isolation, and peer group clumsiness seem like a behavioral problem.

Although these things can all be symptoms of attention and developmental disorders, they may also be symptomatic of APD which is an inability to develop accurate listening skills caused by the brain’s incomplete or unsuccessful processing of auditory information. A child with APD may have trouble with attention, but it’s because they can’t listen accurately, not because they can’t pay attention. While APD can co-exist in a child with ADD, ADHD or other developmental difficulties, unlike ADD, etc. children with APD only are not usually hyperactive. They may engage in the impulsive behaviors seen in children with those other developmental disorders due to their inability to understand and be understood. The lack of an inappropriate diagnosis and therefore inappropriate intervention causes the lack of progress and increased frustration for the child.

The process of experiencing sound is a two-stage phenomenon.

First, sound vibrations are collected by the outer ear, funneled to the inner ear where they become physical vibrations, and then sent on to the cochlea where they are transformed into electrical impulses. Then these impulses travel along the eighth cranial nerve into the brain.

Through the travel of the auditory information along the auditory pathways beginning from the hearing system and traveling to the right and left hemispheres of the brain, sound impulses are put through a highly sophisticated and detailed battery of analyses and examination contoured by memory, instinct, thought, and various voluntary and involuntary reactions into the sensation we experience as hearing. It’s a complex process – one that simultaneously incorporates multiple locations of brain geography, a system of “feedback” to the cochlea to help narrow the focus of hearing, and a myriad of other analyses, impulses, gateways, and other functions and processes. All this happens in fractions of seconds.

Most people recognize that birth defects, infections, blockages, eardrum punctures, tinnitus from loud noises, and various other things can adversely affect the middle and inner ear parts of the hearing equation. But a lot can also go wrong during a pathway journey along the eighth cranial nerve through the CANS relay stations and inside the Auditory Cortex. APD is a condition that affects that interior trip to the Auditory Cortex and the processing stage that transforms hearing into listening within the Cortex itself.

What isn’t APD?

Since APD symptoms and treatments cover several different specific listening difficulties and have a number of different possible causes, let’s have a look at what APD is not.


APD is not hearing loss.

Hearing loss is the result of problems in the middle ear and inner ear. Anything that goes wrong along the chain of membranes, bones and organs that make up the middle and inner ear can cause hearing loss. Fluid build-up, infection, scarring or blockage in the middle ear, birth defects affecting the middle or inner ear’s anatomy, damage to the hairs within the cochlea – these are all conditions that can cause a temporary or permanent loss of hearing. Some of these conditions can be screened and initially diagnosed by a pediatrician or an otolaryngologist (what used to be called an “ear, nose, and throat” doctor). The type and severity of the hearing loss needs to be gauged by an audiologist. Depending on how severe the hearing loss is and what caused it, doctors, along with an audiologist and a speech-language pathologist, and of course, the parents can decide what course to take. Different types and severities of hearing loss respond to different treatments. Hearing aids, prescriptions, therapy session, corrective surgery and surgical implants can each be used to deal with different kinds of loss of hearing.


APD is not ADD, ADHD, or ASD.

Like a child with ADD, ADHD, or ASD a child with Auditory Processing disorder can be:

Mentally and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day

    • Struggling to understand at such a young age is a grueling workout.


    • Feelings of helplessness and an inability to communicate breed anxiety and frustration.

Displaying signs of low self-esteem

    • First and foremost, children blame themselves when things aren’t right.

Negative about school.

    • “It’s just too hard,” becomes the mantra of a school-age child with APD.

Seen as immature for their age

    • Children that are cut off from listening tend to stay put emotionally.


APD cannot be treated with drugs or surgery.

The symptoms of ADD and the family of attention based disorders are often successfully treated with prescription drugs. In many cases hearing loss responds well to the recommended treatments like hearing aids, surgery and the miraculous evolving technology of cochlear implants. Thus far there is no known prescription or medical procedure that lessens the severity of APD.

Correct diagnosis and targeted interventions are the recommendations to follow to successfully help a child who is struggling with APD.

LANGUAGE CHALLENGES Which may be the result of Auditory Processing Disorder


  • Often says “huh” or “what?”
    Asks people to repeat what they said, but hearing is normal
  • You have to look them in the eye to give instructions
  • Asks the teacher, “what am I supposed to do again?”
    Needs constant clarification
  • Can only follow one direction at a time
    May require more time to process spoken words
  • Cannot recall key details from verbally presented material
  • Can’t follow conversations


  • Receives information but can’t respond
    Has difficulty finding the right words when talking and may use placeholder words like “um”
  • Can’t put words together
    Doesn’t have complete thoughts
  • Has difficulty sequencing events from a life event or story
  • May use vocabulary below the level of other children the same age
  • Poor expression
  • Tone doesn’t match words

While every child develops in their own time and at their own pace, there are a few signs you can watch for to see if their receptive and expressive language is developing or if there are potential gaps.


Read: Developmental Stages for Hearing and Listening

How I explain APD to parents using the three N’s.

Our children arrive in this world with their own unique natural abilities and capabilities. We, their parents are there for them, ready to teach, love and guide them. If our child is not developing their speech-language skills in a typical pattern we seek out knowledge from a speech-language pathologist, an audiologist or other qualified professionals.

Over several decades of working with children, parents, teachers, and caregivers I’ve found it helpful to look at the “how” of parenting, teaching and growing a child’s listening and language skills as a three part use of what I call “the three N’s” – Nature, Nurture and Knowledge.

People taking care of a child with an Auditory Processing Disorder need to:

    1. Understand the nature of the child’s condition through diagnosis and testing.
    2. Offer patient, nurturing attention to help a child with APD over the developmental walls, hurdles, and speed bumps that APD creates.
    3. Knowledge of how home and school environments can make it harder or easier for a child with APD to learn.

Through nature, nurture and knowledge, a caregiver can have an enormous impact on a child’s language development and ability to listen.


Nature of listening skills in children
Social skills and listening skills go hand in hand
  • Babies come into this world equipped to turn what they hear into listening.
  • Reading together bonds child and parent in the real world by letting them share their imaginations.
  • Children have an innate ability to learn language A solid vocabulary rich in quantities of words and connections between them is one of the best things a child can bring with them to school.
  • Social skills and listening skills go hand in hand. The benefits of well developed social skills parallel the benefits of being able to listen effectively.
  • The physics of sound and the nature of listening can offer many challenges for children with an APD.
Nature of listening skills in children
Social skills and listening skills go hand in hand


  • Playing and interacting with your child to increase their word power is easy and adaptable to the activities you do together anyway.
  • There’s a big difference between arriving at school with an understanding of 2800 words and 13,000 words. Your interactive attention with the child can help them meet the goal of the appropriate vocabulary for their age.
  • Children learn social communication at the same time and over the same period in which they learn how to listen.
  • Make time and space for reading. Share a love for books.
  • A parent needs the information and ability to recognize potentially troublesome noises and sounds in the environment that will affect their child’s ability to access auditory information. Make common-sense recommendations to alleviate the negative effects of noise which will interfere with the child’s comprehension of information at home and school. The adults surrounding the child must act as advocates on their child’s behalf in social situations and in the community.


Listening development affects a child’s school
listening development affects a child’s school and social experiences
  • As a child grows from birth to age five, it is important for the parents to be aware of a child’s stages of development. Parents should know about and participate in activities, and share information to ensure that their child attains their individual physical, cognitive, communication, social, and academic potential.
  • Understanding the particulars of how hearing becomes listening and how listening development affects a child’s school and social experiences are vital to effectively treating an APD.
  • A child’s ability to learn, add and connect words grows as they nears school age.
Listening development affects a child’s school
listening development affects a child’s school and social experiences
  • Understanding the connection between listening, language, conversation, and successful social interactions is essential to your child to enable them to take the fullest possible advantages of their experiences.
  • Teachers, coaches and other parents need to understand what they can do to assist a child with APD to get the most out of their time together.

Hearing and Listening Stages and Challenges

When Hearing and Listening Starts:

Hearing and Listening Stages
Listening starts in the womb

Learning how to listen well is a miraculous process that actually starts when a baby is in the womb. Parents can help develop listening skills by surrounding their baby with enlivening sounds from the moment of birth. In time, the repetition of identical sounds forms a specific relationship in a baby’s brain—words. These words string together to form language, which is filled with seemingly infinite layers of meaning. These meanings are conveyed through inflection, volume and other signals, which enable us to express ourselves and understand each other. By providing the appropriate stimulation, parents can raise a child who is open, receptive and engaged in life. Without this stimulation, however, a child may become withdrawn and frustrated and/or act out inappropriately because s/he lacks the skills to adequately make sense of his or her world. Learning to listen is the key.

Listening Development:

Each child comes into this world a wholly unique person who has been assembled from corresponding bits and pieces of each of its parent’s genetic codes. Just as your growing child exhibits an individual personality early on in their development by doing things in their own distinctive way, your child comes with the ability to make auditory connections and to listen and hear in their own way. It pays endless dividends to be in tune with an infant’s particular, individual way of listening from as early on as possible. Of course a newborn’s communication skills are severely limited, but when a parent recognizes that the tiny, distinct personality evolving before their eyes naturally comes equipped to evolve its own way of listening, parents and caregivers are better prepared to contribute to that listening development.

Hearing Loss:

What is the act of listening
Learn how to listen through auditory therapy

Statistics show that approximately 3 in every 1,000 children have some type of hearing loss. Hearing loss is the result of problems in the middle or inner ear. Hearing loss can be diagnosed at birth (universal screening) or as a child develops. Children with hearing loss can receive auditory input via hearing aids or cochlear implants, depending on the type and degree of the hearing loss. With access to sound, the child needs to learn how to listen through auditory therapy. Receiving a device to receive sound is just the first step in using hearing to learn language, speech and social skills. Learning to listen is the key.

APD (Auditory Processing Disorder):

Auditory Processing Disorders, which can be found in 1 in 100 children, are characterized by a confusing ability to hear but not listen well. A child with Auditory Processing issues often presents with limited vocabulary, reading difficulties and frustration in communication. Children may be often diagnosed incorrectly with a learning disability or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), due to similarities in the symptoms. There is no surgery or pill to correct Auditory Processing difficulties, but without intervention, an APD can be devastating for a child as they enter school because good listening skills are essential for success in the classroom. Learning to listen is the key.

Hearing and Listening Development Stages:

Parents, other family members, and other caretakers are the child’s interactive partners with a responsibility to meaningfully communicate with infants from the day they arrive in the home. Words and language only have meaning when both the speaker and the listener are committed to sharing the process of communication. For children age 0-5, the bulk of that responsibility rests with the adults that raise them. It’s up to parents, teachers and caregivers to ensure that both they and the child(ren) they care for are committed to what they’re doing together.

A child who is not dealing with physical or developmental disadvantages embarks on a journey marked by a clear sequence of growth and a process of focusing and improving their listening skills as they mature. Language development through listening and play develop ins stages and sequentially and interactively.

Over the course of these stages shown below, every child forms its own unique canvas of thought processes, ideas, habits, memories and beliefs on what they receive through sensory input. Sensory experiences, hearing seeing, touching, tasting, and smelling all contribute to the child’s cognition, reasoning, and language. The brain builds from the bottom-up and top-down input that it receives from their environment.

Toys: Choose toys that will appeal to a baby’s senses and formative motor skills:
1-3 months
Musical mobiles, stuffed animals, baby bumpers with pictures.

Birth-3 months old

  • Sounds begin to have meaning.
  • A child begins to respond to “no.”
  • The baby recognizes changes in voice’s loudness and pitch.
  • Starts to associate word meaning with sound
  • Listens to own voice
  • Rhythm and music draw their own reaction.
  • The baby shows an interest in toys that pair sound with movement like rattles, musical mobiles or anything else designed to make noise when it moves or is moved.
  • The baby demonstrates increased attention to more varied environmental sounds like a vacuum cleaner, a fan, or a door slamming in another room.

At the ninety day mark, your baby is now ready to play. She is awake for longer periods of time, is more physically active and clearly enjoys interacting with you. At this age a child like Chloe can create vowel like and consonant-like sounds using her lips like “p”, “b”, and “m.”

Toys: 3-6 months

wrist rattles, squeeze toys, teething toys, crib-gym exercisers, kick toy noisemakers

6-12 months old

1 year old hearing and listening
  • The child begins to listen and pay attention when spoken to.
  • The child responds to her name by turning.
  • Able to focus listening for longer periods of time
  • The baby begins to like and play games that pair voice with movements.
  • Familiar words (names of daily used objects and frequently seen people) are recognized in familiar contexts.
  • The baby responds to familiar requests like waving bye-bye, or being asked to give something to the parent.
  • The child recognizes sounds paired with objects like an animal sound with the appropriate animal.

At 6-12 months your baby is awake even more and therefore more available to play. As the 12 month mark approaches your child clearly understands more about the world around him/her. During this time your baby’s speech makes a big leap forward. Over the course of year one to two, most children go from babbling to creating nonsense words to learning and using real words and finally to using real words in two word combinations.

Toys: 6-9 months

Brightly colored and patterned chewable soft blocks, tub toys that aren’t small enough to swallow and more soft stuffed animals.

Toys: 9-12 months

Stacking rings. Balls. Toy farm animals and animal sound toys with different textures. Duplo-leggo blocks, Shape Sorter.

1-2 years old

  • The child begins to show specific comprehension of words.
  • The child can point out and identify pictures and objects by their names.
  • Can also point to simple body parts on themselves and others.
  • Imitates words heard.
  • The child can follow 1-step commands or requests like “Where’s the kitty?” or “Throw the ball.”
  • The child likes listening to simple stories

During this time your baby’s speech makes a big leap forward. Over the course of year one to two, most children go from babbling to creating nonsense words to learning and using real words and finally to using real words in two-word combinations.

Toys: 12 – 18 months

Detailed, sturdy and washable! Large dolls, plastic containers, pounding toys, pots and pans, musical instruments, large blocks made of soft materials or covered in vinyl, picture books, a toy bus, and bubbles.

*Young Preschool – Toys: 18 to 36 Months

Large piece puzzles, match games, tea set, books with more text, play dough and plastic cookie cutters, a dollhouse.

2-3 years old

2-3 year old's listening to music
  • The child’s understanding broadens to include following 2-step commands and requests like “Pick up your crayons and put them in the box.”
  • He or she attaches meanings and activities to environmental sounds like attempting to answer a ringing phone or running to the door at the sound of a doorbell.
  • The child begins to understand concepts and their opposites like “hot” and “cold,” “up and down,” and “stop and go.”
  • The child loves to listen to songs and rhymes and can incorporate body and hand movements to go with some of them.

Toddlers often repeat activities over and over during this stage of development. They constantly want to play the same games, read the same books and sing the same songs because they are learning to establish their own rhythm and patterns, make choices and form the basis for counting.

During this year your child(ren) expresses their natural need for control and desire for independence by going where they want, grabbing things and saying “no” to get attention. They may be exhausting to keep up with and clean up after and all those “no!”s and struggling can feel pretty monotonous and negative, but it’s a social and developmental period a child has to go through to find the power of language and how to function in social interactions.

Toys: Young Preschool – Toys: 18 to 36 Months old

Large piece puzzles, match games, tea set, books with more text, play dough and plastic cookie cutters, a doll house.


1cup flour
1tablesppon of cooking oil
1 cup of water
2teaspoons cream of tartar
And several drops of food coloring of your choice

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture forms a ball (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from pan and knead until smooth. Store it in a covered container when it’s not being used.

3-4 years old

  • The child can hear and understand at increasing distances from the source of a sound.
  • He or she understands “why” questions like “who,” “what,” and “where.”
  • Social interactions with other children become more important.
  • Listens to longer stories.
  • Attention span increases.
  • Links what were two separate pieces of info into one

Toddlers often repeat activities over and over during this stage of development. They constantly want to play the same games, read the same books and sing the same songs because they are learning to establish their own rhythm and patterns, make choices and form the basis for counting.

During this year your child(ren) expresses their natural need for control and desire for independence by going where they want, grabbing things and saying “no” to get attention. They may be exhausting to keep up with and clean up after and all those “no!”s and struggling can feel pretty monotonous and negative, but it’s a social and developmental period a child has to go through to find the power of language and how to function in social interactions.

Toys: – 3-5 year-olds

Tricycle, flannel board, puppets, chalkboard, paper dolls, stencils, theme-specific props and costumes, art materials, pretend food and shopping cart, cash register with play money, more advanced puzzles with more and smaller pieces, simple board games like picture bingo, Lotto, and Picture Dominos.

4-5 years old

  • Enjoyment and understanding of stories deepens. The child is now able to answer questions about the stories and shows increasing comprehension.
  • He or she is able to take turns in a conversation by understanding and listening for the cues that indicate turn-taking.
  • Understands longer and more complex sentences
  • Retells longer stories with more details
  • By this age, a child’s language and narrative skills have progressed and she’s able to grasp a pencil and begin to write. She’s also becoming more independent and dressing.
  • Four and five year old’s love ball games and start learning and playing games that have rules.

Over the past 12 months, your child(ren) has learned how to use the second or less pause as a cue for initiating his turn to speak. They have also been initiated into the difficulties of simultaneous talking and interruption and will now give up a turn to speak to keep an interesting or emotionally engaging conversation going. A child with this degree of social skills – able to take turns, talk and listen – is ready for kindergarten.

The Process of Developing Listening Skills in Children

The ListenLoveLearn® process of developing listening skills is a step-by-step path that will unlock your child’s true potential for language, academic success, and effective social interaction. With our supportive, knowledgeable community, parents will be empowered to help their children develop and thrive.

The act of listening—using our ears and mind together to interpret and experience sound and language in the fullest possible way—is one of life’s greatest pleasures and the most valuable learning tool.

Whether a child is developing typically, has an identified hearing loss, or is challenged by an auditory processing disorder (APD), the child must learn to listen effectively to be able to sit and participate in the auditory environment of a school setting. In short, listening is the key to success. Listening skills can, and must, be learned so your child can grow and learn.

The mission of ListenLoveLearn® is to teach parents all about active listening – providing the tools you need to understand your child’s developmental needs and to interact with your child in a focused way that will enhance his or her auditory skills. The process of ListenLoveLearn is as comforting and rewarding to parents as it is transformative. It gives straight-forward advice and strategies, paired with detailed activities to help you connect with your child through games, reading, rhyming and playing, providing the auditory input and listening skills your child needs.

Once you understand how a child learns to listen and uses listening to learn, you’re on your way to a new perspective in your child’s development. And, as a parent, you’ll be empowered to have the positive impact on your child that you desire.

Join us on this exciting path of learning to listen…and listening to learn.

Developing Listening Skills

A child’s listening and language skills naturally grow based on their exposure to quality sound stimulation. Every time you speak and listen to your child you are conducting a lesson. Intentionally or not, whether at home or in the car, at dinner or bedtime, while reading a story to them or asking them how their day was, you are demonstrating how to fine tune their listening skills. Every parent needs to be aware of this responsibility. A child’s developmental appetite for language and sound needs feeding. Throughout the day, no matter how mundane or off the cuff the activities, when you speak and listen together you are feeding that appetite.

If your child has been diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder, or an audiologist believes that your child would benefit from working with a speech pathologist in the developmental areas that APD affects, you will receive specific, specialized instruction, training, and advice tailored to your child’s individual needs. That will include specific exercises that address your child’s areas of need and realistic goals for improvement.

Make listening and learning fun with an everyday activity

No matter how much they may enjoy school, it’s still a child’s job and their work. After working hard all day in school odds are your son or daughter will want to come home and relax. Depending on what your child’s speech pathologist has told you, the kinds of listening lessons you and your child do together are probably best incorporated into daily living activities like, cooking, chores, bed time reading, etc. The goal is to make listening skill building as fun as possible. Since you’re working together to make listening second nature, you should go about it as naturally and pleasantly as you can.

The right shared listening space

Set up a listening environment within your home, that’s as quiet as you can arrange. In modern homes, it’s often hard to find a room or space that’s both quiet and free of visual distractions and foot traffic. Over the years I’ve learned to pick a space that has as neutral a sound and look as possible. Echo-y, noisy spaces, brightly colored rooms, or rooms with large windows can distract from the job of listening at hand. I’ve worked with children in bedrooms, parents’ home offices, rec-rooms, basements, laundry rooms, hallways that aren’t used much, even bathrooms when that’s the quietest room available.

  • Turn off any audible TV’s and radios and make sure the phone’s ringer is off.
  • Sit next to your child so that he or she will concentrate on sound rather than on your expressions.
  • Try to sit with your backs to open doors, busy patterned wall coverings, mirrors etc. to minimize visual distractions.
  • Work at a table with the book, toys, game or pictures you’re working with in front of the two of you.
How to create a listening space for children

Once a child is successful with activities in a quite setting, you can introduce background noise. Using very light background noise can help desensitize your child to sounds that interfere with their ability to listen in genuinely noisy environments. Introduce instrumental music, then songs with words and then talking from the radio or don’t over control natural environmental sounds ( ie: keep a window or room door open).

The way to play

  1. Begin working with games and activities that pair sounds and language with visual aids such as toys, pictures, or written word and sentences. As your child grows more successful, phase out visually cued activities in favor of auditory-only. .
  2. Try not to unnecessarily repeat directions or a word you want the child to listen to. Instead, pause after individual instructions or words and give your child(ren) chances to respond.
  3. Praise is important – reinforce success. “Great, let’s try it again”, “wow”, and “yes” all send a succinct positive message.
  4. Over-praise is counterproductive. Telling your child she is “the smartest little girl in the whole wide world!” shifts focus from your child(ren) feeling successful at a given task to their working toward praise and approval alone. You’ll recognize how much praise is enough for your child.
  5. Follow a time limit. Don’t overwork each other. Listening is difficult and inherently exhausting for a child with APD. Begin with 10-15 minutes per activity and try to end before it’s clear that your child needs it to end.
  6. Start with success. Your child will probably need to make a word and image connection in order to understand things at first. It’s important to begin things on a successful note to build enthusiasm, so use pictures as much as is necessary at first. If you start with no visual reference your child’s hearing weakness may make the chosen activity more of a test than a game. Always begin where the child can meet success and then slowly increase the level of difficulty.

A step-by-successful-step learning process encourages
confidence in developing new skills.

From Rosie O’Donnell:

quotes There are so many different disorders and names for listening and learning problems for kids nowadays that they tend to lump them into one big group. When it’s your own kid you sometimes can’t see it.

The first thing that I would say to the parent of a kid with APD or listening issues is turn off the TV and turn off the computer. That’s the biggest thing. Just what the commercials alone do to kids who have focus issues – you know, when there are words going by at the bottom of the screen and all this fast talking at different volume levels? It’s too fast for kids’ brains. You’re saying you can’t teach your children to focus? Turn off the TV is a start, you know? Read to them every night, have conversations with your kids, and they’ll learn to focus better. That’s a huge thing.

the sound of hope

If your child is diagnosed with APD or demonstrates listening challenges, suggestions and the exercises in “The Sound of Hope” will help you to help your child(ren) build and develop listening skills and strategies.

The Sound of Hope: Recognizing, Coping with and Treating Your Child’s Auditory Processing Disorder, by Lois Kam Heymann, M.A., CCC-SLP, is the first practical guide to help parents improve their children’s listening skills so they can communicate clearly, interact well and fare better in school—whether the child has a diagnosed disorder, learning disability, or slow language development. In addition to the insights and knowledge of this veteran speech therapist, the book also contains a stirring foreword by her star parent-client, Rosie O’Donnell.

Buy the Book Today

(click on the purchase option below):

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indiebound, Powell’s

Childrens Listening Skills

Q - Did you know Listening Skills are the most used and least taught skill your child will need to academic and social success?

A - (It’s true!) This is a new Blog to introduce you all to my favorite topic: Developing Listening Skills for all children. Let’s start at the beginning...

Welcome to Children’s Listening Skills Blog

This is a new Blog to introduce you all to my favorite topic: Developing Listening Skills for all Children.

Having been a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in developing auditory skills in children for over 40 years, authoring a book on the topic Sound of Hope, and presenting

workshops, professional development seminars and parent meetings (whew!)- it is now time to

spread this information far and wide.

Did you know Listening Skills are the most used and least taught skill your child will need to academic and social success? (It’s true!)

Did you know that developing listening skills are foundational skills for developing attention, language, memory, and comprehension skills? (It’s true!)

Did you know that listening skills begin building at birth and don’t stop developing through your child’s/student’s adolescence? (It’s true!)

And finally…Did you know that helping your child and/or your student is so much fun? (True! True! True!)

Please join me as I take you through this adventure in listening- you can find me twice a month.

Let’s start at the beginning-

Hearing Isn't Listening

Newborn Listening skillsBaby Chloe has just arrived back from the birthing center to begin her life at home with her family. Pink and wrinkled, Chloe sleeps from meal to meal cries when she’s hungry and happily burbles and waves her tiny hands and feet when she’s awake. She’s her parent’s first child and her mother and father are over the moon about what a lovely happy baby they’ve been blessed with. Over the weeks ahead they both make sure to pick her up, gently tickle her, and let her tiny waving hands tug and fingers touch theirs. Their doctor has told them that the more physical stimulation they give their baby as she grows, the closer she’ll bond with them and the happier she’ll be. Chloe’s grandparents also said how important is to make physical contact with an infant. As they interact physically with their daughter Chloe’s parents can’t help talking to her constantly, telling her how pretty she is, narrating for her as they prepare bottles, feed her, change her and play with her. What Chloe’s parents don’t know is that even at only a few days old talking to and interacting verbally with their tiny little daughter is just as important as the tickling, and handling their parents and doctor talked about. Though Chloe is still many months away from saying her first words, she is already hearing everything happening near her and a lifetime of hearing, listening and understanding and interacting with the world around Chloe has already begun.us leo.

Listening Passively

People talk about “listening passively” – sitting and taking in a sound, noise, or something that’s been said without reacting to it. But in strict biological terms, there is no such thing as “passive listening” – least of all in a newborn. Any sound we hear puts billions of brain cells to work decoding and identifying what it is and what it means – no matter how trivial the source may be. As automatic and miraculous and easy to take for granted as it seems, hearing is always working toward the active skill of listening.

As parents we work with, play with, and encourage our children to develop all sorts of basic skills whether it’s walking and running, using a fork, throwing a ball, tying shoes, reading, riding a bike. The examples we set, the time we share, and the work that we do with our kids forms a direct link between a child’s latent and evolving ability to do these things successfully and their ultimate fulfillment of that potential on their way to adulthood. What’s unfortunately often overlooked is that parents can make an enormous contribution to helping develop the basic skill of listening. Mothers and fathers share an amazing opportunity to assist their kids in fine-tuning, deepening, exploring, and perfecting their listening skills from birth and infancy and into childhood and through the school-aged years.

Little Chloe was born already wired with the potential to take in the sounds in their environment. The noise of a vacuum cleaner, a bird’s song, the sound of their parent’s voice – a baby experiences these things from day 1. When mothers, fathers , caregivers become aware that their child is learning to listen from the very start of life, they can become instrumental in seeing to it that those active listening skills get every opportunity to focus and grow. With the right preparations and encouragement, their child will have the finest listening tools possible for school readiness and the social experiences they will encounter into adulthood.

A Nourishing Sensory Diet

Babies encounter and input sights, sounds, feelings, smells and tastes every second of every day. Everything influences an infant – when a baby is picked up, how it is held, how it is fed, bathed and changed, and how it is talked to. Each of these sensory encounters is stored in the child’s brain and as that stockpile of information and sensation grows, so do the connections in the baby’s brain. Parents are the gatekeepers between their children and the wide world of sensory experience that an infant is born ready to absorb. How a parent interacts with their baby directly affects the types and strength of those connections. These days most parents consciously monitor and control what their toddler sees on TV, what a ‘tween or teen reads, sees at the multiplex or looks at on the internet. But the truth is, whether they know it or not, parents control most of what their children have heard and experienced since birth. A baby’s listening environment needs to be monitored as surely as the temperature of their living environment. How well that control is maintained governs how the child will use and apply their latent listening potential down the line.


An infant’s auditory diet can begin with singing and rocking your baby. Any song you sing is auditory stimulation. Paired with rocking gives the baby the sound plus the movement. Simple-profound-fun!

Of course, this journey will be continued in the next blog.

Until then,

-Read about Hearing and Listening Development Stages

Welcome to the Listening Skills Blog

I am Lois Kam Heymann, a Speech-Language Pathologist, Author, Auditory Learning Specialist and Creator of play/learning programs for children, which enhance listening and language skills through play.

This blog is a place for sharing and learning about listening skills and how they are the foundational skills for children’s academic and social success. My goal has always been to help adults help the children in their care reach their highest potential.

This is a space to share knowledge and wisdom about child development in the 21st Century. My plan is to empower you to support the child(ren) in your care to become the best they can be.

Are you a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, nanny, grandparent, friend, babysitter????

If you interact with children- this blog is for you.

Child Development

First comes awareness, then knowledge and then the know-how.

Look for a blog post every Tuesday! Some of the topics we will cover in the next few months include:

    • Technology and Kids: The good, the bad, the ugly.
    • The Magic of Reading. Ways to read, what to read, and why to read.
    • Play with Me. What toy and when. This is actually fun!
    • Listen-UP! Listening games to teach those early listening skills kids need when entering school.
    • It’s too Loud– Is their environment too noisy for learning?
    • Music to my Ears. The importance of Rhythm and Rhyme.
    • Nurturing Social Skills. The listening-speaking connection.
    • Language Development. Ages and Stages
    • Why Don’t They Listen? Is it a problem or is it behavior?

Please join me on this journey as we look at childhood through the lens of listening, language, and play. See you next Tuesday.