Teaching Listening Comprehension to Special Ed Kids

Strategies for Supporting Special Ed Students

John Moore / Staff / Getty Images

Listening comprehension, also known as oral comprehension, can present a struggle for learning disabled children. Many disabilities can make it difficult for them to attend to information delivered orally, including difficulties in processing sounds and prioritizing sensory input. Even children with mild deficits may simply find auditory learning difficult since some students are visual or even kinesthetic learners.

What Disabilities Affect Listening Comprehension?

Auditory processing disorder, ADHD or a language-processing deficit can have serious impacts on listening comprehension. These children can hear, but imagine a world in which every noise you heard was at the same volume—it's just impossible to sort out the "important" sounds from the unimportant ones. A ticking clock may be as loud and attention-grabbing as the lesson being taught by the teacher.  

Reinforcing Listening Comprehension at Home and School

For a child with these kinds of needs, listening comprehension work can't only happen in school. After all, parents will have the same struggles at home. Here are some general strategies for children with auditory processing delays.

  1. Reduce distraction. To help regulate volume and keep a child on task, it's essential to eliminate extraneous noises and motion. A quiet room can help. Failing that, noise-canceling headphones can do wonders for easily distracted learners.
  1. Let the child see you when you speak. A child with difficulty interpreting sounds or making them on her own should see the shape of your mouth as you speak. Let him put his hand on his throat when saying words that present difficulty, and have him look in a mirror while speaking.
  2. Take movement breaks. Some children will need a refresher in the struggle to listen. Let them get up, move around, and then return to the task. They may need this support more often than you think!
  1. Read aloud, at least 10 minutes a day. You are the best example: Spend time reading aloud one-on-one to kids with auditory deficits. It's important to cater to the child's interests.
  2. Help her with the process of listening. Have the child repeat what you've said, summarize what she's read, or explain to you how she will complete a task. This builds the foundation of comprehension.
  3. When teaching a lesson, present information in short and simple sentences.
  4. Always check to ensure that the child understands by repeating or rephrasing your instructions or directions. Use voice intonation to keep his attention.
  5. Whenever possible, use visual aids and or charts. For visual learners, this can make all the difference.
  6. Help children with organization by presenting the sequence of the lesson before you teach it. e Reference them as you're giving instructions.
  7. Teach strategies to these students that include rehearsing mentally, focusing on keywords and using mnemonics. Making connections when presenting new material can help them overcome the sensory deficit.
  8. For students for whom distractibility is not the main issue, group learning situations may help. Peers will often help or direct a child with deficits and lend additional support that will preserve a child's self-esteem. 

    Remember, just because you've said it aloud doesn't mean the child understands. Part of our job as parents and as teachers is to ensure that comprehension is happening. Consistency is the most effective strategy to support children with challenges in listening comprehension.

    mla apa chicago
    Your Citation
    Watson, Sue. "Teaching Listening Comprehension to Special Ed Kids." ThoughtCo, Mar. 5, 2018, thoughtco.com/teaching-listening-comprehension-3111347. Watson, Sue. (2018, March 5). Teaching Listening Comprehension to Special Ed Kids. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/teaching-listening-comprehension-3111347 Watson, Sue. "Teaching Listening Comprehension to Special Ed Kids." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/teaching-listening-comprehension-3111347 (accessed March 21, 2018).