• Remember listening difficulties are not the same as hearing difficulties, speaking more loudly or clearly will not always help. The difficulty lies not in receiving the signal but rather the quality and then internal processing of the auditory signal.
• Eliminate background noise (e.g. fish tanks, traffic, computers, people talking) or if this is not possible ensure the child’s back is to the source of noise.
• In classroom situations ensure the child is as close to the front and towards the center of the classroom as possible. Try to position the child so that students immediately surrounding the child will not be distracting.
• Gain the child’s full attention – i.e. eye contact and stopped all other activities- before giving any oral (spoken) information or directions.
• If possible ensure the child is facing you when you give instructions (don’t shout to them from the next room!)
• Use gestures and other visual supports (e.g. draw pictures, write keywords) wherever possible. Be tolerant of children watching other students for cues when following instructions.
• Break instructions/ideas into smaller steps.
• Repeat spoken information emphasizing key points. In the classroom this can be achieved by asking another student to repeat information covered for the benefit of everyone in the class! It can help to re-state key ideas before beginning more in-depth discussion.
• Ask the child to repeat back to you the key ideas or the steps in a list of instructions.
• Try not to jump from one idea to another, provide logical sequencing of ideas. This is because children with listening difficulties are often relying on lots of contextual clues to determine what you are saying, sequence provides context.
• Don’t get angry with the child if they miss an instruction/idea. Review the instruction and get them to identify which part/s they missed. It can be difficult sometimes to differentiate between disobedience and simply not understanding but it is important to make sure you don’t discipline the child for something they have no control over.
• For older children a diary can help especially when remembering chores and homework tasks – when an instruction is given get them to write it (or younger children can draw it) in their diary.
• Encourage your child to take an active role in improving their listening skills and encourage them to practice listening to information and then picking out key ideas (eg remember 3 news stories when watching the news together and talk about them).
• Praise good listening whenever it occurs.