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Listening comprehension issues

5 Terms to Know If Your Child Struggles With Listening Comprehension

By The Understood Team

122Found this helpful
122Found this helpful

Are you unclear on the terminology around listening comprehension issues? Knowing these five terms can help make conversations with your child’s doctor or teacher easier.

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Auditory decoding deficit

A weakness in “decoding” or matching spoken sounds to their letter symbols. It’s also referred to as to “auditory discrimination,” or the ability to hear differences in sounds. For example, when the teacher says “maps,” your child might hear “mast.” This may seem like the result of hearing loss, but that’s not the case with auditory decoding deficit.

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Prosodic deficit

Difficulty using or understanding tone of voice. Prosody refers to the rhythm and melody of speech and the rise and fall of pitch on individual words. This is what allows us to use the same words as either a statement or a question: “It’s starting to snow.” versus “It’s starting to snow?” Your child may speak in a monotone and use the same pitch all the time—which could make him sound a bit like a robot. He may also have trouble picking up on the sarcastic tone in someone’s voice.

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Integration deficit

Difficulty handling information that’s conveyed through more than one sense at the same time, such as listening while looking at something. Integration deficit could cause your child to have a hard time taking notes while listening to the teacher. He might have trouble drawing a picture of what the teacher is describing.

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Output organization deficit

The inability to organize, plan or recall what is heard, and misspeaking as a result. This could cause your child to say words incorrectly or in the wrong order. He may complain he can’t hear, particularly if the room is noisy. He may also have difficulty following multi-step directions.

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Associative deficit

Difficulty understanding indirect or nonliteral meanings of words or phrases. Your child may have trouble understanding jokes, sarcasm or the deeper meaning of what’s said. He might tend to think literally or in concrete terms. For example, if you say “I’m beat,” your child could think you’re injured. More complex sentences also might be confusing to him.

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About the Author

Understood Team Graphic

The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Dean Mancuso

Dean Mancuso, Au.D., is assistant professor of audiology at Columbia University Medical Center, specializing in aural rehabilitation.

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