Auditory Discrimination Deficits Can Result in Funny Misunderstandings

As a child, I was often
teased by my silly misunderstandings of expressions, phrases, words and even
lyrics to songs.  Although my hearing
was excellent, I struggled with auditory discrimination difficulties.  As a result, I continually confused
sounds that were similar and often misconstrued what people were telling me.   For instance, after a year abroad
with my family living in England, we returned to the United States and I
entered the first grade.  On the
first day of school, when my teachers and peers detected my British inflections
they asked me about it.  To my
dismay, my explanation resulted in laughter.  When I got home I complained to my mother, with a big frown
on my face, that the students and teachers had laughed at me.  I just couldn’t understand why they chuckled
when I told them I had an “English accident.” 
One of my current
students, Ben, and I are both members of what I like to call, “the dyslexia
club.”  For the two of us, the
primary weakness that resulted in our diagnoses was auditory discrimination
deficits.   In particular, we
had fun sharing our misunderstandings of song lyrics and had a good
giggle.  A week later, Ben came
into my office and said, “I’m
so confused.  For years I thought it was, ‘play it by year,’ and recently
found out it was ‘play it by ear.’  Is that my dyslexia?”  I nodded.  He
looked at me with his head cocked and his brow furrowed and said, “Play it by ear doesn’t make any sense.”  He had a perfect understanding of the
saying and felt that his misinterpretation was a better fit for the meaning.  
Here are a couple of other cute
misunderstandings that my students have made:
“Challenge words are my worst
“It happened in a half hazard
Do you have any to share?
Remember that the kids that
struggle with this cognitive processing weakness are not aware of their
misunderstandings, so make an effort not to laugh at them and gently guide them to the correct

If you want to learn more about the research behind this, check out this article from the NY Times

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author,
illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory
Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn,
in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can
go to and 

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