Thursday, February 19, 2015

Accommodating Learning Differences: Multisensory Teaching Materials by Dr. Erica Warren

We recently had the privilege of visiting with Dr. Erica Warren, a unique educator who creates and provides unique materials that are very individualized and multisensory. Her work as well as her materials help to promote mindful instruction that nurtures a genuine love for life-long learning.

Dr. Warren earned her Doctorate in Education (University of Georgia), which focused on life-long issues in learning, the impact of learning difficulties across the lifespan, and comprehensive diagnostic evaluations. In addition, Dr. Warren acquired a Master's degree in Educational Psychology, which covered life-span development, learning, and cognition and a bachelor's degree in fine arts.

Earlier this month, Dr. Warren was kind enough to answer a few questions we posed about her passion and the unique work she does to help ALL kinds of learners:

1) What experience(s) motivated you to establish Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials?
I had such a difficult time finding multisensory, fun and engaging materials, so I began to design my own. Then, when I saw how much my students benefited from my materials, I started the process of creating activities, documents, PowerPoints, audio discs, and Prezis that I could share with others.

In 2008, my first publication was Multisensory Multiplication and Division to Melodies. This project was a blast, and many of my students assisted by helping with the design of the CD cover and singing the songs in a professional recording studio. It was wonderful seeing these once dis-empowered learners who had struggled with the process now teaching and motivating others.

Since then, I have created board games, card games, cognitive games and exercises, and instructional presentations on topics such as following directions, multisensory instruction, mastering place value in math, teaching visualization, Orton-Gillingham remediation and executive functioning to name a few. I now have over 80 products that are available in my online stores Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. I also offer them on Teachers Pay Teachers.

2) What are the goals/objectives for your organization and the work you do?
My ultimate goal is to set a high standard and to reform education. We are living in a time of that I call Edu-chaos. Learning is a drag and both teachers and students have become passive participants of a broken system. I hope to bring the joy and awe back into education; what I like to call AwEducation.

3) What kind of feedback have you received about your Good Sensory Learning Materials?
I hear amazing testimonials from all over the globe.
If you really want to know what people think, you can go to my store at Teacher Pay Teachers. As I don’t own the site, the testimonials are unbiased.

4) Which materials are or appear to be the most in-demand?
My two most popular products are Reversing Reversals (remedial tools for struggling readers) and Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success.

5) Do you have plans to create additional materials? If so, for which topics (content) do you see the most requests or demand?
Really, the students that I work with one-on-one are my inspiration. If they have trouble mastering an academic topic, I usually create materials for them before their next session. Many of these become the foundation of a new publication. However, sometimes the projects are much bigger and can take 1-2 years to produce. For example, I wrote a digital book called Mindful Visualization for Education and I’m presently co-authoring, with Michael Bates from the Dyslexia Reading Well, a teaching guide for working with students with dyslexia. Finally, I’m thinking of collaborating with some amazing professionals to create teacher training workshops.

6) Who are the persons or groups seeking your advice and your materials? In other words, who is your audience?
My audience is students, teachers, parents, homeschoolers, learning specialists, and educational therapists. I have products, free materials and advice for all of these populations.

7) To date, have there been any specific individuals, groups or other organizations that inspired you and helped you realize your goals for Good Sensory Learning?
Again, my students are my greatest inspiration. In addition, there were key teachers along the way that helped to pave my path and fuel my fire.

8) You write and manage a blog entitled Learning Specialist Materials. Who are your readers? What important topics do you address in this blog?
Because I tackle a variety of topics, my audience is also students, teachers, parents, homeschoolers, learning specialists, and educational therapists. I have written a blog every week for a number of years now, and it has become a diary of my thoughts, ideas, and creations. I offer instructional strategies, reviews on technology and games, free materials, interviews, product reviews, and thoughts on how we can improve education.

Links and Resources Provided by Dr. Erica Warren

Good Sensory Learning
Educational workbooks, other materials and advice for all kinds of learners are available here directly from Dr. Warren.

Dyslexia Materials
This is the "daughter" site of Dr. Warren's Good Sensory Learning (Please see previous link above here.) Materials for reading, writing, math, memory & organizational skills are available via this website (some FREE).

Teachers Pay Teachers
An alternate website where Dr. Warren's unique educational materials are available for online purchase (some FREE).

Blog: Learning Specialist Materials
Dr. Warren offers free advice, materials, links and more here on her community blog.

For information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Images courtesy of: Dr. Erica Warren

Monday, February 2, 2015

BEST Games, Apps & Activities to Help Improve Auditory Processing

What IS Auditory Processing?

Auditory processing is the term used to describe what happens when the brain recognizes and interprets the sounds in one's environment. A person can hear when energy that is recognized as sound travels through the ear and is changed into electrical information. This electrical information can then be interpreted by the brain. However, if a child or adult has what is called a "disorder" involving auditory processing, this means that something is adversely affecting the actual processing or interpretation of that electrical information. This is called auditory processing disorder (APD).

Children with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves may be loud and clear. For example, the request, "Tell me how a chair and a stool are alike," may actually sound to a child with APD like, "Tell me how a hare and a tool are alike." Problems like this one are often more a likely to occur when a person with APD is in a noisy environment or when he or she is listening to complex information.

APD may also be known by other terms. Sometimes it is referred to as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). Other common names for APD are auditory perception problem, auditory comprehension deficit, central auditory dysfunction, central deafness, and even word deafness.

Symptoms of Possible Auditory Processing Difficulty

Children with auditory processing difficulty typically have normal hearing and intelligence. However, they may experience:

-Trouble paying attention to and remembering information presented orally

-Problems carrying out directions with several steps

-Poor listening skills

-The need more time to process information

-Low academic performance

-Some behavior problems

-Some language difficulty (e.g., confusing syllable sequences, problems developing vocabulary and understanding language)

-Difficulty with reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary

What Should You Do If You Suspect an Auditory Processing Problem?

You as a parent, teacher, or day care provider may be the first person to notice symptoms of auditory processing difficulty in your child. If you do have such a concern, you should:

1. First, talk to your child's teacher about his school or pre-school performance and your concerns. Be sure to include any observations you have made at home concerning your child.

2. Consider visiting the healthcare professionals who can diagnose APD in your child. Sometimes there may be a need for ongoing observation with the professionals involved. These professionals will try to rule out other health problems.

a. Make an appointment with your child's pediatrician or family doctor can help to rule out possible diseases that can cause some of these same symptoms. He or she will also measure and evaluate the growth and development of the child.

b. Discover if there is a disease or disorder related to hearing. To do this, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist--a physician who specializes in diseases and disorders of the head and neck. Your child's pediatrician or a local healthcare center can provide you with a good referral for such a specialist.

c. Learn if your child has a hearing function problem. This can be determined by an audiologic evaluation. An audiologist will give specific tests that can determine the softest sounds and words a person can hear and other tests to see how well people can recognize sounds in words and sentences.

d. Visit a speech & language pathologist who can evaluate how well a person understands and uses language.

e. Consult with a mental health professional can give you information about cognitive and behavioral challenges that may contribute to problems in some cases, or he or she may have suggestions that will be helpful.

f. Keep in mind that because the audiologist can help with the functional problems of hearing and processing, and the speech-language pathologist is focused on language, they ALL may work as a team to help your child. All of these professionals can work together to seek and provide the best outcome for your child.

In the meantime, it may be possible to help improve one's auditory processing ability. However, much research is still needed to understand APD problems, related disorders, and the best intervention for each child or adult.

Several strategies are available to help children with auditory processing difficulties. Some of these are commercially available but have not yet been fully studied. Any strategy selected should be used under the guidance of a team of professionals, and the effectiveness of the strategy needs to be evaluated. Researchers are currently studying a variety of approaches to treatment. Several strategies you may hear about include:

1. Auditory trainers are electronic devices that allow a person to focus attention on a speaker and reduce the interference of background noise. They are often used in classrooms, where the teacher wears a microphone to transmit sound and the child wears a headset to receive the sound. Children who wear hearing aids can use them in addition to the auditory trainer.

2. Environmental modifications such as classroom acoustics, placement, and an appropriate change in seating may help. An audiologist may suggest ways to improve the listening environment, and he or she will be able to monitor any changes in hearing status.

3. Exercises to improve language-building skills can increase the ability to learn new words and increase a child's language base.

4. Auditory memory enhancement, a procedure that reduces detailed information to a more basic representation, may help. Also, informal auditory training techniques can be used by teachers and therapists to address specific difficulties.

5. Games or software applications (apps) may be able to help improve auditory processing to a certain degree in some individuals. For the convenience of our readers, we have provided a list of resources that may be able to help:

Games & Activities to Help Improve Auditory Processing

18 Auditory Processing Activities You Can Do Without Spending a Dime!
by Bonnie Terry Learning

Activities to Enhance Auditory Processing

Activities to Improve Language Skills in Children with APD
by Chris O of Speech Buddies

Apps to Help Improve Auditory Processing

Virtual Speech Center's 8 Auditory Processing Apps
Virtual Speech Center offers innovative mobile software solutions for schools, private practices, independent speech pathologists and parents. The company provides a wide range of mobile applications for speech therapy developed for iPad and iPhone devices. Some of their applications are offered at no charge to speech pathologists.

Top Apps for Auditory Processing Disorder
List compiled by Smart Apps for Special Needs

Apps for Auditory Processing/Sound Discrimination Skills
by Lauren S. Enders, MA, CCC-SLP (via Pinterest)


National Autism Resources, Inc.
This organization is a global leader in providing cost effective, research-based therapeutic tools that meet the needs of people on the autism spectrum across their lifespan since 2008. Their tools and adaptive technologies work together to improve skills and significantly decrease impairment.

Auditory Processing---from The National Assoc. of Child Development
by Lori Riggs, MA, CCC/SLP Director, Center for Speech and Sound

For more information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Shutterstock at
Brennan Innovators, LLC at