Category Archives: Auditory Processing

It’s here! It’s clear! U Can Connect works!

kids on computers

 Reading Study at The Boys and Girls Club in Murray, Utah

 U CAN LEARN in conjunction with The Murray City Boys and Girls Club of South Valley conducted a reading study during after-school hours to access the effectiveness of the online reading program, U CAN CONNECT, ( and the feasibility of putting it in their club as a permanent training program. Sixteen children were tested using standardized measures, focusing on auditory and visual processing skills, rapid word naming, visual tracking and reading and spelling skills.

The children were divided into 2 groups: “trainees” and “control.” Ten trainees finished 28 days of the program, a half hour a day, in the computer lab with one to two teacher aides present to monitor the children. No other instruction was provided outside of playing the 12 U CAN CONNECT games.

Fourteen of the children were tested again. (2 children moved from the area) The control group now has begun their training.

The results for the before and after testing are described below.

Testing and Results:

TAPS-3 The Test of Auditory Processing Skills-3 was administered in part to assess a student’s auditory processing ability in 3 areas. Auditory processing is the brain’s ability to decipher and catalogue information sent to it by the ear and is very important in reading and spelling since children need to ‘hear’ what sounds constitute a word and then remember what order they heard them in. It is also important in listening to auditory instructions, and in tracking details of a conversation.

U CAN CONNECT has 3 auditory training games but none that specifically training recalling sentences.

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Although the control group also made some improvement on recalling numbers and words, they made no improvement on repeating sentences. When we view the overall standard scores (85-115 is the average range) we see that the trainee group moved into the average range overall while the control group stayed in the poor to low average range.

The Test of Visual-Perceptual Skills-R was given in part to assess Visual Perceptual skills.  Visual Perception, according to the literature, does not measure eyesight but measures instead what the subject does with what he sees.  In a broad sense, it is the brain’s ability to understand and make sense of what the eyes ‘send it’.

Visual processing is a very important factor in reading and spelling since words need to be quickly recognized as being same or different, words need to be visually recalled so that they do not need to be sounded out each time and words need to be quickly processed in order to be read fluently.

6 games on U CAN CONNECT focus on increasing visual processing skills.

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Pre and post testing, change in points from the first standard score to the second score

Visual Discrimination:   Trainees increased 30 points, control increased 1 point

Visual Memory:   Trainees increased 12 points, control increased 0

Visual Spatial Relations:   Trainees increased 24 points, control increased 3 points

This test showed a very significant gap between the children who trained and those that did not. The trainees moved form their pretesting scores of the poor and below average ranges to the average to above average ranges, while the control group, either made little improvement or went backward on the post testing.

The Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement II was administered to ascertain academic success in three areas, 2 in reading and 1 in spelling. Decoding real words, decoding nonsense words and spelling are all important variables in being a proficient reader. Form A was administered in pretesting and Form B was used on reassessment so the children were not reading or spelling the same words during the test.

One game in U CAN CONNECT focuses on spelling and one game focuses on decoding real words. None of the games addresses reading nonsense words.

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Pre and post testing, change in points from the first standard score to the second score

Decoding real words:   Trainees increased 19 SS  points, control decreased 11 SS point

Spelling:   Trainees increased 23 SS points, control decreased 15 SS points

Decoding nonsense words:   Trainees increased 56 SS points, control decreased 20 SS points

 Once again, this testing showed a very big difference in the children who trained for 28 days and those that got no specific training. It should be noted that nonsense word decoding, although not trained in any of the 12 games on U CAN CONNECT, made the biggest jump in post testing. We believe it is due to better attention to task, better visual processing skills and better auditory phonemic awareness.

The Test of Verbal Conceptualization and Fluency was given in part to assess quick visual sequencing abilities. On the Trails C, a child needs to quickly connect numbers 1-21, to demonstrate visual processing and visual sequencing speed.  Slow visual tracking means that a student would have a difficult time in looking at visual material and trying to do things quickly, affecting all school work but in particular reading and test taking.

On this testing, the lower the score the better, meaning the student connected the 21 numbers in a faster time.

Two games in U CAN CONNECT work on this skill.

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Pre and post testing, change in seconds from the first score to the second score


Trails C:   Trainees decreased 44 seconds, control increased 4 seconds

Trainees moved in to the average to high average range while control students remained in the below average range.

The RAN/RAS Tests (Rapid Automatic Naming/Rapid Alternating Stimulus Tests) was administered to assess the student’s ability to name letters, numbers, objects and colors as fast as possible. Problems in Rapid Automatic Naming have a direct correlation to reading fluency and children with slow rapid naming skills are often slow readers affecting reading comprehension, fluency and interest in focusing on a story.

No games in U CAN CONNECT work on this task but many of the games require quick visual identification of words or chunks of words.

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Pre and post testing, change in standard scores from the first score to the second score


Averaged SS on all subtests:  Trainees decreased 50 points, control increased 6 points

The trainees moved into the average range for rapid automatic naming while the control group stayed in the below average range overall.

The GORT-5 (Gray Oral Reading Test-fifth edition) was used to assess reading fluency, accuracy and comprehension. The student was asked to read increasing harder paragraphs while they were timed on speed, marked on word accuracy and then asked 5 questions for comprehension. Form A was used in pretesting and Form B was used in post testing so the students were not familiar with the paragraphs.

No games in U CAN CONNECT have the student practicing this skill.

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Pre and post testing, change in overall standard scores from the first to the second score


Averaged SS on all subtests:  Trainees increased 34 SS points, control increased 4 SS points

When the areas of rate, accuracy and comprehension were assigned standard scores, and then the overall test standard score was found, we see that the trainee group made a big jump in their scores vs. the control group that showed very little change in their overall standard scores.

We feel the exciting aspect of this score in particular, is that although the games do not specifically practice the skill of reading paragraphs and answering questions, because of the other auditory and visual processing skills trained in the U CAN CONNECT program, the results prove that overall reading skills improve as well.

Only 28 days of training (approximately two months) demonstrated these positive results, therefore what would more training do for each child?

For more information, go to and play the free trials!


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© Can Stock Photo Inc. / michaeljung


When is autism not autism?

confused child

Does my child have autism, or is it something else?

Annie was a cute 4 year old that I was asked to work with. She had just been diagnosed with autism, had virtually no speech, ran around grabbing things and had tantrums throughout the day when activities were changed.

Flailing limbs, biting, kicking just to get her from an activity on the floor she was engrossed in, to the dinner table. Once there, she would calm down and eat. There were no trips to the stores because of grabbing items and screaming, no birthday parties due to the inability to play well with others and virtually no communication skills. I’ve been a speech therapist for twenty-five years, been involved with learning disabilities for the last 14 years, have seen thousands of kids, but I’ll never forget Annie.

Mainly because she wasn’t autistic.

Annie had great eye contact and would watch what a person’s hands were doing. She was quite social when engaged in an activity. She recognized people and knew who they were in relationship to her. But she really didn’t get what people were saying to her.

I quickly figured out she had a severe auditory processing problem.

Of course she would get upset when an activity changed. She’d be playing along, the usual murmuring of ‘blah, blah, blah” going on in the background, something she had learned to tune out since it didn’t make sense, and then, wham! She was being picked up and someone was forcing shoes on her feet or she was being led to the bathtub or made to do things without knowing what was going to happen next.

Along with working on listening skills, I taught the family to speak in only one- and two- word sentences. “ Eat now. Done play. Get bath.” Annie started processing those very short phrases and started imitating them. She stopped grabbing things and learned to say, “More cookie. Want bear.”

Within 6 months, Annie was using 3-4 word sentences and her behavior had improved immensely. She was allowed back in the shopping cart and could start a preschool program.

The point here is that sometimes we jump too fast to label a child with autism when in fact there may be other reasons for that classic identifier of a  “disconnect’ with the world.

  • Hearing impairment can cause a child to not understand speech and can go undiagnosed for years
  • Visual processing delays might cause a child to not have good eye contact and not focus on visual information put in front of them
  • Delayed speech may come about because of Apraxia, a delay in the motor regions of the brain that prevents words from being formed. Some children with apraxia, like children with autism, never learn to say more than a few words.
  • Poor word finding or low vocabulary can come about because of Dyslexia or an expressive language disorder.
  • Severe ear infections can cause a central auditory processing disorder, like in Annie’s case. Children do not attend to speech, won’t watch TV or movies and they often have limited speech in return.
  • Like with autism, a language-delayed child may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.

Getting the right diagnosis is so important. If you are worried that your child is exhibiting symptoms of autism, visit the ear doctor, the eye doctor, or a speech therapist. If all of the processing areas check out, then a neuro-pediatrician or a behavioral specialist visit is warranted.

Remember, it may look like your child is exhibiting symptoms of autism, but other processing disorders can mimic many of that disorder’s signs and characteristics.



Photo credit: Canstock photo



Say What?

ear bigger icon

Auditory discrimination refers to the brain’s ability to organize and make sense of language sounds. Children who have difficulties with this might have trouble understanding and developing language skills because their brains either misinterpret language sounds, or process them too slowly. Words like “whale,” “wheel” and “while” can sound exactly the same. “Fill,” fell,” and “feel” are not heard as being different. Children then are hampered in reading and spelling these close-sounding words.

Children with auditory discrimination delays often fall behind in school, because they lack the phonological awareness needed to make relationships between sounds and the symbols that represent them.

Imagine writing the sentence, “Jim fill into the hole whale walking home.”

Or sounding out the sentence, “Fill the pail with water from the wheel,” but the child reads out loud, “Feel the pell with water from the whale.”

Several of the games in UCanConnect addresses auditory discrimination improvement. Squared Away is an auditory matching game that forces the child to listen closely to similar sounding words, eg. (‘tile, while, wool, tail, tall, wall,’ or ‘nest, best, mess, less, west, guess,’ and then find the exact match. Below the game board, a jungle picture emerges, encouraging the child to complete the puzzle.

If this skill is delayed, reading 20 minutes a day will not improve it. Auditory discrimination has to be trained. Check out the free trials on to see all of the processing areas that are improved in just 35 minutes a day!