Did you know that processing speech sounds is the single fastest thing your brain does? Auditory processing is the ability to decipher small changes in sound — not by your ear, but by your brain. When a brain doesn’t process sound quickly enough, a variety of language and reading difficulties can arise. This seemingly simple, yet foundational ability is a significant predictor of language and reading difficulty, as early as 6 months of age.

Improving Auditory Processing Speed in the Context of Language and Reading Exercises

Fast ForWord was developed by neuroscientists to help students with auditory processing disorders improve their auditory processing and sequencing skills.

  • Adaptive exercises train the brain to process subtle differences in sounds
  • Personalized for 80% success, 20% challenge rate for optimal improvement
  • Sound training is in the context of grammar, vocabulary, and reading exercises: sounds are stretched and amplified for easy discrimination

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How auditory processing difficulties present

An individual is said to have an auditory processing problem when he or she has difficulty perceiving, decoding, remembering and retrieving information. These auditory skills are necessary for learning to read and spell, and for listening and learning in the classroom.

Individuals with auditory processing difficulties present with some or all of the following difficulties:

  • Is slow to respond to questions or follow instructions
  • Forgets complex instructions
  • Is easily distracted during listening tasks
  • Is better at listening in individual or small group situations than in large group situations
  • Has particular problems listening when there is a lot of background noise (for example, in the classroom or at the swimming pool)
  • Confuses similar-sounding words (for example, ‘comb’ and ‘cone’) during listening tasks
  • Has difficulties saying complex words (for example, says ‘mazagine’ for ‘magazine’)
  • Has difficulties ‘sounding out’ words when reading and spelling
  • Has difficulties with dictation tasks.

It’s important to realise that these difficulties can coexist with other conditions or have different causes – for example, a child with a language delay or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may display similar behaviours. The good news is that auditory processing difficulties are treatable.

How Fast ForWord® helps

Fast ForWord is a very effective intervention for individuals with auditory processing difficulties. Its digitally stretched sounds in the beginning stages of the program give the brain more time to process speech sounds (phonemes). As the participant’s auditory processing ability improves, Fast ForWord progressively speeds up the sounds to the pace of natural speech.

Fast ForWord’s unique technological ability to acoustically modify speech helps students recognise speech sounds, first as isolated sounds, then as syllables, then in words, and finally connected strings of words such as phrases and sentences.

Dr Martha Burns PhD talks about Auditory Processing Disorder links to Reading Difficulties and Dyslexia


APD Whitepaper

Recognizing and Treating Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorders
Whitepaper by Maxine Young

APD/Fast ForWord® Research

Heim, S., Choudhury, N. & Benasich, A. A. (First online: 15 December 2015). Electrocortical Dynamics in Children with a Language-Learning Impairment Before and After Audiovisual Training. Brain Topography.
Summary: After Fast ForWord use, children with language learning impairment (LLI) showed improved language skills and changes in patterns of neural activity that indicate “a change in cognitive control strategies.” This is consistent with other recent neuroscience studies on children with and without LLI (Stevens et al., 2008) and children with dyslexia (Temple et al., 2003). All of these studies suggest that the improved language and literacy performance seen after Fast ForWord use may result from better application of attentional and memory resources.

Heim, S., Keil, A., Choudhury, N., Thomas Friedman, J. & Benasich, A. (2013). Early gamma oscillations during rapid auditory processing in children with a language-learning impairment: Changes in neural mass activity after training. Neuropschologia, 51, 990-1001.Krishnamurti.
Summary: The authors concluded that measures of brain wave efficiency are not only correlated with auditory processing problems in children with language-based learning disabilities, but that the Fast ForWord Language program improves at least one measure of the brain wave efficiency and that is in turn correlated with improvements both in rapid auditory processing accuracy and also language skills.

Krishnamurti, S., Forrester, J., Rutledge, C., & Holmes, G.W. (2013). A case study of the changes in the speech-evoked auditory brainstem response associated with auditory training in children with auditory processing disorders. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinoloaryngology, 77, 594-604.
Summary: After Fast ForWord use, the authors noted significant changes indicating plasticity in the auditory brainstem’s neural activity to speech stimuli.