Free Computer Games To Build Auditory Skills
Please note, the computer games discussed below are not intended to take the place of programs such as Berard AIT, but can be beneficial when used therapeutically to enhance auditory processing and to teach auditory skills. In order to obtain maximum results, the games should be done with intensity and repetition. Using the games 5 out of 7 days a week for 30 minutes, twice a day, or an hour per day will increase the potential for good results. These games are excellent for building skills following Berard AIT.
Developing auditory skills requires lots of practice and repetition, and as parents and teachers know, it can be difficult to get children to practice something that involves a skill that may be weak. Computer games offer a good solution to this since most children are more easily engaged in games on the computer. Now there are several games on the computer that are free and user friendly.
Parents and teachers can use the BrainConnection web site to access some games designed to develop auditory skills. There are games for children as well as some for adults. To access these games go to www.brainconnection.com, then click on the ‘brain teasers’ button.
Dunk Tank is designed to measure your reaction time - the total time it takes you to respond to a sound by clicking the mouse button. The player responds to the turtle speaking (the auditory clue) by quickly clicking the mouse. The reaction time is measured in milliseconds, or thousandths of a second. Our reaction time to auditory stimulus is extremely important in our daily lives. We must react to sounds that signal danger or emergencies, but reaction time is also important in listening, speaking and reading. In order to hear and understand a spoken word, we must process auditory sounds that change in fractions of a second. Reading also requires rapid manipulation and processing of letters to sounds. It takes the average reader just a few hundred milliseconds to read a familiar printed word. This game motivates the player to increase auditory attention and processing in order to improve their game score each time they play.
Weep Woop is designed to measure the player’s ability to identify two sequences of sound that are presented with increasingly shorter intervals between them. The amount of silence between the two sounds is called the inter-stimulus interval (ISI). As this interval becomes shorter, the player’s brain is challenged to process and identify the sounds more quickly. The game results show the shortest interval at which the player was able to correctly identify the sounds. This auditory processing ability is critical for accurate speech perception. Rate processing, as this is called, enables us to identify and remember sounds that change within tens of milliseconds, words that change within milliseconds, and sentences that change within seconds. Individuals who have difficulty with rate processing are likely to have problems using speech and understanding speech. For example, the ending “-ed” is used by a speaker to make the past tense of the verb jump. In natural speech, the “-ed” ending is very rapid. If the listener cannot process the sounds in time, she is missing out on an important grammatical function, and may misunderstand the information. It can also impact on the development of reading skills. Good readers depend upon the ability to map rapid speech sounds onto printed words and letters. The readers refer to these speech sounds as they attempt to decode or “sound out” words.
Bumper Cows is similar to the old electronic toy “Simon.” The computer version (Bumper Cows) requires the player to remember a sequence of events and repeat that sequence within a short timeframe. To achieve a high score, the player uses working memory to store the information and recall it in the correct sequence. The number of events the player can recall correctly gives an idea of the number of events he can hold in his working memory. Bumper Cows allows the player to use different types of information, such as visual (colors), auditory (sounds) and spatial (location on the screen). Working memory is important for listening, speaking and reading, and is critical for learning. Without working memory, a listener would forget each word of a sentence that was spoken to him as soon as he heard it. Silent reading typically uses auditory working memory and visual-spatial working memory to help the reader make sense of the written words and to remember them. People can help working memory to be more efficient by using “recoding.” We can recode digit list information such as 3, 7, 8, 4, which may be difficult to remember, into a new list, 37, 84, which is much easier to recall since there are just two pieces of information instead of four.
Additional games under Brain Challengers focus on learning letter names (ABC Gulp) and learning letter/sound relationships (Bear Wear). These will be helpful as pre-reading activities. Rapid Naming tests the player’s ability to connect visual and verbal information by seeing how quickly he can give appropriate names to common objects, shapes, colors, digits and letters. Rapid naming enables the speaker to focus his attention on higher-level skills without becoming stuck in the effort to name an object. Recognizing a printed word requires immediate identification of the letters. Young children who exhibit difficulty with rapid naming, may have more difficulty learning to read later on.
Sound Discrimination Games: There are five games on this web site for training sound discrimination. Some focus on learning to distinguish between tones, while others involve sound discrimination and working memory. Sound discrimination is important for listening to the spoken word and for reading. Without good sound discrimination, the reader will have problems learning phonics and applying these principles to reading and spelling. The listener with poor sound discrimination may misunderstand words that sound similar, making it difficult to figure out the meaning of the message.
Memory Attention Games: There are four games designed to exercise the mental processes required for attending to and remembering information. They involve visual memory, auditory memory, auditory discrimination, attention and reasoning. There are different levels, so you will need to check them to see which games are appropriate for the individual.
This article appeared in The Sound Connection, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2001. .
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