Auditory Discrimination Deficits Can Result in Funny Misunderstandings

Posted by Erica Warren on

As a child, I was often teased by my silly misunderstandings of expressions, phrases, words and even lyrics to songs. Although my hearing was excellent, I struggled with auditory discrimination difficulties. As a result, I continually confused sounds that were similar and often misconstrued what people were telling me. 

Auditory Discrimination problems and misunderstandings

Funny Misunderstandings

After a year abroad with my family living in England, we returned to the United States and I entered the first grade. On the first day of school, when my teachers and peers detected my British inflections they asked me about it. To my dismay, my explanation resulted in laughter. When I got home I complained to my mother, with a big frown on my face, that the students and teachers had laughed at me. I just couldn’t understand why they chuckled when I told them I had an "English accident."

RELATED: Assistive Technology For Dyslexia  

Auditory Processing Workshop

Current Student Illustration

One of my current students, Ben, and I are both members of what I like to call, “the dyslexia club.” For the two of us, the primary weakness that resulted in our diagnoses was auditory discrimination deficits. In particular, we had fun sharing our misunderstandings of song lyrics and always had a good giggle. A week later, Ben came into my office and said, "I'm so confused.

For years I thought it was, ‘play it by year,’ and recently found out it was ‘play it by ear.’ Is that my dyslexia?" I nodded. He looked at me with his head cocked and his brow furrowed and said, "Play it by ear doesn't make any sense." He had a perfect understanding of the saying and felt that his misinterpretation was a better fit for the meaning.
Auditory Processing and dyslexia resources
Here are a couple of other memoralbe misunderstandings that my students have made:

  • “Challenge words are my worst enemy.”
  • “It happened in a half hazard manner.”

Do you have any to share?

Remember that the kids that struggle with this cognitive processing weakness are not aware of their misunderstandings, so make an effort not to laugh at them and gently guide them to the correct pronunciation.

If you want to learn more about the research behind this, check out this article from the NY Times:

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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