Auditory Processing and Following Directions Activities

It's easy to forget how challenging it can be for children to learn the complexities of the English language. Making sense of the information we hear can be tricky, particularly when sounds are similar or there are background distractors.  Following directives, interpreting the needed steps to complete an assignment, understanding multiple-choice test questions, and discerning a teacher's instructions are just a few examples of how young learners need to understand and navigate the subtleties of linguistic cues. For many children, learning to follow directions is a complex task that requires instruction, and the mastery of this skill involves vocabulary development, mental flexibility, attention to details, listening skills, receptive language skills, auditory processing, verbal reasoning, and more.

Here is a list of Dr. Warren's products that focus on auditory processing, following directions, and listening skills.


What is Auditory Processing?

Auditory processing is a cognitive function that recognizes, interprets, and understands the auditory sounds and messages we receive through our ears.   It involves a number of skills:

  1. Auditory discrimination: the ability to distinguish between sounds that are similar but are not the same
  2. Auditory closure: the ability to understand language when some sounds or phonemes are missing.  
  3. Auditory figure-ground: the ability to make sense of auditory information in a noisy environment.
  4. Auditory synthesis: the ability to unite individual sounds into a meaningful whole.  
  5. Auditory memory: the ability to recall and remember information that is heard.
  6. Auditory sequencing: the ability to understand and recall ordered sounds and words.
  7. Auditory reasoning: the ability to analyze auditory information and draw conclusions.
  8. Auditory attention: the ability sustain and shift auditory attention and to filter out unnecessary sounds.
  9. Auditory localization: the ability to determine location and source of sounds.

 What are Following Directions Skills?

Following directions skills is the ability to listen to, comprehend, and act upon either oral or written directives.  Simple directions present one request or command at a time, while more complex directions include a series of directives that need to be completed.

What Cognitive Based Skills are Needed for Following Directions?

There are a number of basic cognitive skills that are necessary for students to be able to follow oral directions.  For simple directions students need to be able to:

  • selectively concentrate on a stimulus - attention
  • listen to a process and understand oral language in both words and gestures - receptive language 

  • communicate thoughts through oral expression - expressive language
  • remember words and other abstractions involving language - verbal reasoning and memory

For more complex directions students also need a strong:

  • working memory: ability to temporarily retain information in memory, perform some operation or manipulation with it and produce a result
  • short term memory: ability to retain information that requires little processing or interpretation for a few seconds to about 30 seconds.

  • sequential processing skills: ability to process information in a series or sequence.

  • sustained attention: ability to direct and focus cognitive activity on specific stimuli for prolonged periods of time.

Following written directions includes some additional cognitive and academic achievement skills:

  • Higher order thinking skills: ability to summarize information, make inferences, understand multiple meanings, comprehend non-literal meanings, glean the main idea and predict outcomes.

  • Written language skills: all the skills needed to construct a written response including punctuation, grammar, capitalization, spelling, sentence structure and 

Why are Following Directions Skills Important?

This is an important skill for students to master because the comprehension of class lessons, assignments are dependent upon this skill.  As students move through the grades, language moves from concrete to more abstract ways of thinking, and assignment directives get more complex.  Therefore, following directions skills tend to get increasingly complex as students get older. 

We believe that building following directions skills can and should be fun for students!  For a comprehensive following directions program, consider our Following Directions Mega Bundle as well as our other following directions products.