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Auditory Digit Spans

 

        Testing

        Children

        Adults

        Low Digit Spans

        Maturity Level

        The Effect of School

        Society

        Related Topics

         Laterality

         Frontal Lobes

        More Links

 

Testing

"When an individual cannot follow instructions, gets confused when there are multistep assignments or gets lost during compound sentences, I look at the auditory processing of that individual. A simple way to test auditory processing is to do a test of auditory digit spans. To do this, simply say a sequence of numbers, slowly, at the rate of about one digit every 2 seconds. Say them in a monotone and don't group them. For instance, I'd say "3 8 7 4 3". When finished, I have the individual repeat the sequence to me in the same order. The above was a sequence of 5 digits. I would say that the individual could repeat 5 digits has an auditory digit span of 5."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life

 

Children

"Up until the age of 6, the auditory digit span usually correlates with the age of the child: a one year old can do 1 digit, 2 year old 2 digits, 3 year old 3..... up until the 6 year old."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life  

 

"Once you have tested a child's auditory digit span, you can know how to teach that child better. A child must have an auditory digit span of 6 or better to really take off with phonics. A child with low auditory processing, trying to learn to read using phonics, will sound out the first part of the word, sound out the last part of the word and guess at the middle. This could be a child that knows all the rules, works really hard at reading, but when it comes to those longer words, just can't hold the auditory pieces in his mind to figure out the longer words. To help this child, simply have him exercise that auditory function. Have him practice doing the auditory digit spans a couple of minutes at a time, a few times a day. Have him listen to books on tape and higher-level language into his dominant ear via headphones. Read to him. Expand his auditory vocabulary. As the processing improves, the problems disappear and the child takes off.
     I had one child test at an auditory digit span of 4 the first time I saw him and he got up to a 9 four months later. This was a home-schooled child. I'll never forget the look on his face when he walked in to his re-evaluation appointment. He had a big grin on his face, looked me in the eye and said, "I can do 9 now". Since each digit is a developmental year, it is highly unusual for a child to improve one digit in 4 months, much less 5 digits. Well, I tested this child and sure enough, he could do 9 digits. His reading jumped 7 grade levels and everyone in the family and at church commented on his improved maturity level. So, as processing improves, academic function improves."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life

 

Adults

"Today, the average adult has an auditory digit span of 6 to 7. This is down about a digit from when I started in this work 12 years ago. Actually, the average adult digit span should be 10 or better to understand and process normally complex language."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life

 

Low Digit Spans

"If the individual has a low digit span, then he cannot process normal, everyday language. This is the individual that will pick up parts of sentences and scramble the rest. This is the 'spacey' individual. This is also the child who is not having success learning to read longer words with phonics."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life

 

"If you meet someone who is totally 'dingy', doesn't get what you are saying at all, ask them to repeat a sequence of numbers....you will probably find that they have a digit span of 5 or less. Also, most of us are familiar with asking a store clerk for something with 4 or 5 steps or parts to it, and having them get little bits or pieces of the instructions and having to repeatedly go back before the order is correct. This is a symptom of the low auditory processing prevalent around us."    
CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life

 

Maturity Level

"There is also a strong correlation between auditory digit span and maturity level. If a 10 year old child has a digit span of 3, that child will act more like a 3 year old than a 10 year old. When we get the digit spans up to the 6 to 7 level, the maturity level becomes age appropriate."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life

 

The Effect of School

"The child increases his auditory processing ability one digit a year until he...starts school. We must look at the effect of school on the learning abilities of children. As a society, we tend to stagnate at an auditory digit span of 6 to 7. Actually, an auditory digit span of 7 is not high enough to engage intelligently in a semi-complex conversation. An auditory digit span of 10 to 12 is necessary to discuss and manipulate complex ideas."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life

 

Society

"If we could go back and test the people of this country in the 1700's, I would guess that the auditory digit spans would be in the 10 to 15 range."

CAN-DO: Hearing, Learning and Listening: The Role of Auditory Function in Academics and Everyday Life  

 

Related Topics 

Laterality

"So ideally, the higher the digit span the better off the child will be. That of course is assuming that their right/left dominance is in place. I see a lot of kids and adults, where the dominance is not in place and they have high digit spans and they go crazy because they can't process."

Crossroads Institute: FAQ on Memory

 

        Laterality

 

Frontal Lobes

"The frontal lobes are important for attention, executive function, motivation, and behavior. Tests for frontal lobe function include working memory (digit span, spelling backward), judgment, fund of knowledge, task organization and set generation such as naming lists of things in a certain category."

Neurologic Exam: Mental Status > Anatomy

 

        The Brain: Frontal Lobes

 

More Links

         CAN-DO

         Katherine's Pages: Memory Tapes

         National Association for Child Development

         NACD: The Learning Problems and Attention Deficits

 

 

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