Hello! This blog is about my daughter Hailey (currently 12 years old) and her experiences living with auditory processing disorder. Auditory Processing Disorder is Hailey's primary issue, however she has also been given the labels Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Visual Processing Disorder, Mixed Expressive Receptive Language Disorder and Phonology Disorder at various points in her life.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Phonemic Awareness for my Child with Auditory Processing Disorder and Dyslexia

I wanted to touch on reading skills again and the immense troubles Hailey had learning how to read.  You see, I was a first grade teacher for years before I decided to stay home with my own children and I had been trained in teaching children phonemic awareness, phonics, and various approaches to reading and comprehension skills.  I used these same techniques on my own children from the beginning as I was reading to them as infants.

The trouble for Hailey started very young.  When she was just a toddler, she would get angry at me for reading to her.  She wanted to look at the pictures, but when I read the words, she would get mad and put her hand on my mouth to let me know she wanted me to be quiet.

As for phonemic awareness, she could not understand what I was asking her to do at all.  We played with sounds like identifying the beginning sounds of word: bananas, babies, bottles, etc.  I had toys to go with them; I had plastic letters; we played scavenger hunt games for them; and much more, but she just could NEVER do it.  Her twin brother loved it and picked it up like it was second nature.

No matter what I tried, Hailey just had no phonemic awareness.  To her, many letter sounds sounded all the same.  She could not tell the difference between sounds like /b/, /p/, /d/, /t/.  I was dumbfounded and had no idea what to do.  

I managed to locate a reading specialist about 40 minutes drive from our house who was a retired reading specialist from the public school system and now was offering private tutoring.  I made an appointment for her to see Hailey and give her some testing.  She had been trained in using The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) Program for Reading, Spelling, and Speech and believed it would be the best solution for Hailey.

So Hailey and I started going to her once a week for an hour long lesson.  She would send home homework for us to do during the week.  The real key to this program which made everything finally make sense to Hailey was the way she taught Hailey to identify letter sounds by their oral motor sensations and the visual look when seeing someone make those sounds.  She could identify /p/ by the way the lips go together and a breath is formed at the front of the mouth and blown through the lips.  /b/ on the other hand, has a sound created in the throat that goes through closed lips and /t/ has the sound formed in the front of the mouth like /p/ but it goes through the teeth and the tongue goes up behind the teeth in front.  It sounds complicated, but for Hailey this made absolute sense and she picked it up incredibly quick.

This way of identifying sounds by their oral motor sensations and the way they look on others when being made brought Hailey the phonemic awareness she needed.  She finally could identify the different phonemes in words, rhyme words, and read words!

Not every child  with Auditory Processing Disorder has this same problem with phonemic awareness or the inability to hear the distinct letter sounds.  But if your child cannot rhyme, identify the beginning sound in words, or otherwise seems to think you are crazy when trying to teach them these things, it might be worth looking into.

-----I just wanted to add a link to the reading specialist we used in case anyone lives in the Detroit Metropolitan Area: Macomb Tutoring, LLC.


  1. My daughter had the same issue, but alas we had no access to support - she herself, put her cheek to mine so that she could understand the muscular adaptations between the sounds I made. I did this in front of the mirror (once I recognized what she was doing) so that she would have every cue possible. She did like me reading though - apparently not for what I was saying, but the tone and actions I used too.

    She now lip reads to scaffold her auditory processing, but reading and spelling are a real struggle. These kids are so bright they just find a way to circumnavigate their way around... eventually ;)

    1. :) I'm so glad you both found something that worked for her. You are absolutely right that these kids are so bright and so creative!