Maybe yes, maybe no. In general, if someone has normal hearing and seems to respond, we might say yes, but what usually goes unnoticed is the underlying effort involved in the process. For many children, the auditory world means try harder, process slower, tire faster, and give up quicker. How quickly and efficiently an individual processes auditory information varies a great deal and is heavily influenced by clarity of signal, competing sounds, attention, familiarity and complexity of content, interest, emotional state, and other cognitive processing and developmental strengths and weaknesses. Also, the ear and accompanying links in the sound/language processing chain need to be trained and clarity of sound input may have been compromised as a result of fluid in the ear, infections and noise exposure during key developmental periods.
Every home, community, and society comprises a unique training ground for the acquisition and role of language, sound, and music. As with any learning, the richness and frequency of exposure and the opportunity to playfully explore and integrate are critical factors. How language rich (including written) is the child’s environment? What opportunities are there for vocal play and varied forms of verbal interaction? What degree and type of music, singing, and rhythmic movement are freely available to more thoroughly integrate sound, movement and other cognitive processes?
In our fast-paced, multi-media world, often auditory development is more challenging due to heavy exposure to visual stimulation and little chance to absorb subtleties of sound. Children who lack an adequate auditory foundation are also more likely to struggle learning to read.
In response to these auditory issues there are many supportive interventions, including software, therapeutic listening, and integrated speech-movement-timing programs. All of these interventions seek to create new auditory awareness’ to support improved function. Creating a more user-friendly auditory world, improving reading, and receptive and expressive language can not be looked at as isolated skills. Programs that improve attention, working memory, cognitive processing speed, and reduce impulsivity can also dramatically impact reading and language skills.
I have been involved in various listening and auditory training programs for over 20 years. Integrated Listening Systems (www.integratedlistening.com) is an excellent program that also layers in developmental movement activities.