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Listen to the Right Speaker Exercise

Most of us can tune out one source of information to target in on another source of information. For example, we can usually all remember when we were in school and some kids behind us were talking as the teacher was talking. We would automatically tune in to what the kids in the back were talking about. Unfortunately, we were unable to listen to the teacher at the same time and probably missed some important information. The ideal situation is to tune out what the kids in the back of the class are talking about and focus in what the teacher is saying.

Some children have difficulty focusing in on what they are supposed to be listening to. They are easily distracted or they have no or little ability to tune out noise or sounds. Listen to the right speaker is a neuro-developmental exercise that can be performed at home and can augment exercises given to individuals with auditory processing problems. If your child is in therapy, consult with her/his therapist to insure that this exercise will not interfere with the work done in therapy.

This exercise can be modified in an infinite amount of ways to meet the specific needs of the participant. Feel free to be creative with this exercise. The materials needed are at least two sources of sound or noise, an interesting book, and an exam about what was read from the book.

Step by Step Instructions: Listen to the Right Speaker.

1. Obtain a radio, MP3 player or audio cassette player that is telling a story or has some dialogue to it. Do not use a TV or anything with visual stimuli. Whatever is chosen, it should be interesting to the child. Turn it at a relatively low volume. Place the source of sound behind the child and relatively far away.

2. As the radio or other device is playing at a low volume behind the participant, read a story to the participant that is interesting to the participant. The story can be complete in and of itself or some pages from a book that the child finds interesting. Explain that the participant is to listen carefully to you reading the story and ignore the interesting dialogue or story on the sound device.

3. After a few minutes of reading or at the end of the story, ask the child questions that they could only get right if they were listening to the story. The difficulty level of the questions should be within the moderate range, but would be relatively easy if the participant was listening and paying attention.

4. This completes the trial phase of this exercise and the child should clearly understand how to complete this exercise. Steps 1 through 3 will be repeated daily but under varying circumstances. Each trial will have a new story being read to the child and a different story or dialogue from the sound source.

5. For the next stage, adjust the volume and the position of the sound device such that the child only gets about 50% of the questions correct as you repeat steps 1-3. This completes this stage. The goal of this step is to find the volume and the distance of the distracting noise such that the paticipant gets only 50 5 of the questions correct.

6. On the following day, reduce the volume and put the sound source further back so that the participant will get 80 % of the questions correct as you repeat steps 1-3.

7. Continue daily steps 1-3 until the child is getting 95 to 100% of the questions correct.

8. Increase the volume and more the sound source closer and keep it at this distance and volume until the participant is at the 95 to 100% of answering the questions correctly.

9. Continue to do step 8 until the volume is slightly louder than the reader and is right next to the participant and the participant is able to answer questions about the story with 95 to 100% accuracy. Mastery is not achieved until the participant can listen to a less interesting story and the distracting dialogue is more interesting. The volume for speaker and the distractor should be about the same.

10. The next phase involves introduce a visual component and set the visual component (e.g., TV, movie player, tablet with a presentation that the child is interested in) within the peripheral view of the child (i.e., the child can see the reader and the visual component device at the same time or with a small turn of the head).

11. Repeat the proceeding steps until the child is able to have the Visual component in front of them with the volume slightly louder than the reader and is able to answer the questions with 95 to 100% accuracy.

Exercise: Listen to the Right Speaker Exercise.

Time: about 5 to10 minutes depending on how fast and how well the reader can make up questions about the story that was read.

Recommended Frequency: once a day, 5 or 6 days a week until step 7 has been mastered.

Materials Needed: A sound source (e.g., radio, MP3 player, podcast on a computer) with a dialogue that is interesting to the participant, a story to be read, someone to read the story and ask questions afterwards. Once auditory stimuli have been mastered, a device that has visual and auditory stimuli is to be used (e.g., Television, movie player, computer or tablet).

Pretest Assessment: participant has been identified as not being able to listen to someone when someone else is talking.

Mastery: participant can listen and comprehend a boring story when there is something more interesting within the participant's visual and auditory field.

Additional comments: For some children, starting off with dialogue as the distractor may be too intense. They may need to start off with music or irritating noises. After they master irritating noises then introduce sound with dialogue. Some children can listen better with music such as Mozart playing in the background. Some children will need all other distractions removed (e.g., air conditioner turned off). It might be good to try this exercise with the normal ambient noises and then introduce other sounds. Feel free to modify the conditions to meet the needs of the participant and then work towards mastery.

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