Auditory Processing Games for Preschoolers

If your preschool child has difficulty following directions at home, this can be frustrating for both him and you! You think he seems to understand the individual words, but then he can’t follow through to be able to carry out your verbal instructions.

Some parents automatically assume that this is a behavior issue, but often it’s not. Auditory processing disorders make it very difficult for a child to be able to fully understand, process, and then DO what you’ve asked him to do.

The purpose of this article is not to explain auditory processing disorders, but rather give you ideas of how you can work to improve your child’s ability to understand and process directions at home.

As always, since I’m a pediatric SLP, I target these skills in play. Here are a few of my favorite ideas –

Use a child’s strengths or interests to develop “games” that will keep him with you long enough to learn how to listen, understand and follow-through. If he likes colors, set up a game so that he has to listen to what color of some object you’ll tell him to “get” and then “do” something with to complete the task. If he loves animals, set up a zoo game and give him different directions for various animals to do at the zoo. If his passion is his prized set of Cars vehicles, have him “do” different things you suggest with Lightning McQueen and all the other ones (but you’ll have to learn the names first!)

Get it Take what he loves and?then figure out a way to weasel in “therapy” with him during play.

If you’re the “need to HEAR it to understand it” kind of person, listen to episode #21 of my podcast Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate. It’s called Let’s Play! If you can’t take our banter about toys for?the full hour, forward on toward the end when I’m talking about how I use puzzles in sessions with children who need work on this.

If you’re the “need to SEE it to understand it” kind of person, take a look at the last video clip in the article “Best DVD for Receptive Language Therapy at Home.” If it’s not still posted a few articles below this one on the home page, then look for it in the DVD category.

If you’re the “need to see it and DIGEST it to understand it” kind of person, get the DVD Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2! You’ll see this clip plus others AND get to hear an explanation of the theory behind these activities and difficulties as well (but in plain English so you’ll be able to understand and apply it!).

Whatever your style – I hope these ideas will help you to work on these skills during play at home. Language processing is critical to future academic success. It’s that important!


Posted in



  1. touria on January 19, 2009 at 8:39 pm


  2. Laura on January 19, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Touria – The above article lists ideas for children with auditory processing disorder which is different from hearing loss. I hope that your son is receiving speech therapy during his school day. Please discuss your specific concerns with him since the techniques they are using likely are very different from the ones I describe on this website. I’d hate to give you conflicting information. Hearing loss really is a specialty area for speech-language pathologists, so again, I urge you to speak with his school personnel. Thanks for the question – Laura

  3. Ramyah on January 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

    What a great site. How I wish I had know of it long ago. But, better late than never. Our nine year old daughter was diagnosed early with probably APD and then officially at 7 year 7 months. We’ve been fortunate to have wonderful S&L therapists and a small school (30 kids total in k-8)that has worked with her, watched over her and encouraged her to be the best that she can be. She struggles socially as there is no one else there with similar issues. I have had little luck finding other children in our immediate area with similar issues WITHOUT the beavhor problems due to no diagnosis, improper diagnosis and/or no therapy. I watched with much sadness how these kids are labeled as dumb stupid or crazy and that is just by their peers or siblings. Any suggestions of forming a support/play group?

  4. Laura on January 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Ramyah – My best advice is to ask SLPs if they have any families on their current or past caseloads that would be a good match for yours and go from there. I have “set up” several families this way thru the years, and hopefullly you’ll have luck this way too. Laura

  5. Cameran on April 7, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I just wanted to say that it is so refreshing to find so much information on speech issues. I have two children, my oldest being a 3 yr old girl who excelled and talked at a very early age; she is very receptive and creative and vocal. I also have a 30 month old boy who I had evaluated with early intervention late last year. Most people gave me the old “well it’s because he’s a boy and the second child.” Which of course I refused to accept. He has been in early intervention for about 4 months now, before starting he had about 20-30 words at the age of 26 months. Recently he has hit his “word burst” where he has more than doubled his vocabulary (saying 50-60 new words in two months). I have purchased the Teach Me to Talk DVD and enjoyed watching it and seeing the change in him as I implemented the strategies. Just yesterday I came upon the BlogRadio and was just about in tears when I listened to the Receptive Language delay series (specifically #28 & #29). It perfectly describes my son, he is a Do-er and one that is hands on and it was such relief to finally have a name to something that was for so long was just a “late-talker” and feared. It now really allows me to focus on teaching words and not just teaching talk. I thank you for that! I was wondering if you could tell me maybe statistically wise how long it takes a child with receptive language disorder (6-8 months behind) to catch up with his peers.

    For example last night I asked him to take his socks off and put them in the dirty clothes basket. He took his socks off (understood socks) walked to the basket (understood basket) but instead and putting the socks in the basket he tried to pick up the basket. I just laughed because it just cemented the fact that he understood part but not all. So we together put the socks in the basket.

  6. Laura on April 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Cameran – Thanks so much for your comment. I am so glad my DVD, website, and the podcasts are helpful to you. I don’t have statistics on how long it takes a child to catch up – and really it wouldn’t matter since every child is different. However, know that by focusing on helping him learn to UNDERSTAND and use language, his outcome is going to be much, much better than if you did nothing at all! I’m so glad you had your “a-ha” moment and realized that for him (and all other kids!), it’s understanding language that’s the most important!

    I’m glad you liked Teach Me To Talk the DVD. I hope you also know about the receptive language DVDs – Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 and 2. It sounds like strategies in Listen and Obey 2 could help you help him. I’ve been trying to give away a free DVD on the podcast for a couple of weeks now to the first live caller, so if you’re interested, call in with a question this week to win the DVD! We’d love to hear from you! Laura

  7. Niyati on April 27, 2009 at 4:48 am

    Dear Laura

    Can you please suggest which DVD I Need to order for my 3 1/2 year old son. He has been diagnosed with mild autistic features . He has problems in responding to questions and does not always follow instructions . His speech consists a lot of echolalia ( immediate and delayed and is able to repeat sentences / rhymes / songs) and can communicate some basic needs correctly

    Thanks for your help


  8. Laura on April 28, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Niyati – Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 is for children who need help learning to interact with you and teaches parents how to teach children to understand words adn follow basic commands.

    Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 is for children who need help learning to understand different kinds of words and follow more complex directions.

    Teach Me To Talk is for teaching parents basic strategies to improve language for non-verbal children thru children who are learning to use short phrases.

    Hope these descriptions help you decide what you need to learn in order to help him progress. Thanks for asking! Laura

  9. Sagaya on April 29, 2009 at 7:09 am


    I was moved to tears when I received your response as I felt someone is out there listening to our concerns and helping us. May God Bless You for all your effort and work with parents like me.

    Serena started Kindy this week and she loves it (has been going to 1 session last term as her pre-entry pre-requisite). She is thrilled to know she can now attend 4 sessions a week. She tells me what she wants for her snack and just this morning I told her I had packed fruits, cheese crackers and chips and she promptly told me NO Chips Mummy. I replied I had packed chips that she likes and she told me NO BANANA CHIPS MUMMY.

    Her eye contact is instantaneous and she is able to follow instructions almost immediately, when given. I noticed she greeted her teacher without my prompting.

    She still can’t tell me what really happens in Childcare except for simple comments like I did drawing, I did dancing but I notice she can answer questions better. I asked her ‘If she had managed to go to the toilet in Childcare” and she told me ‘ She went to the toilet in Kindy and Peta took her to the toilet. To most parents this wouldn’t be anything but for me this is a big improvement considering where she was just 3 months ago.

    Initially I was told that she will be receiving assistance/support from a Support Worker in Kindy for 3 hours per week but I was overjoyed when told the Support Worker will be with her and 3 others throughout the 4 sessions of Kindy (approx 14 hours per week).

    These are some of my ‘good news’ for this week.

    Kind Regards,

    South Australia

  10. zerodtkjoe on October 20, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Thanks for the info

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for your Free eBook

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes

Browse Products

Featured Product

Recent Posts

Teach Me To Talk Testimonials

Happy Therapists, Teachers, Parents & Children

"I purchased the book on autism and have watched the #400s series podcasts. Laura Mize has been more effective in teaching autistic tendencies, than many professors, shadowing professions, and the 100s of books, articles and classes or videos, or live workshop speakers, have been at teaching effective practices for a child with ASD. Some of the many lessons she has taught, which I will now use, to be a more effective Interventionist, include but are not limited to: red flags, typical behaviors, self-stimulating behaviors, not taking away toys, rather showing child to play with toy appropriately. She gives examples of child's actions, "inappropriate," explains the reason for: why the child is engaging in these behaviors and how they can be replaced with more appropriate, effective fuctional and age-appropriate skills."

"I’m sure Laura gets these messages all the time, but I thought I’d share. I stumbled across Laura‘s "Autism or Speech Delay?" YouTube video when I really needed it. This video finally listed and explained some of the red flags my son was showing for autism. I share the link anytime a parent is questioning in my FB autism group. This mother I don’t even know said Laura's video changed her life. I know exactly how she feels because It changed families too. Thank you to everyone at Teach Me To Talk."


"Good Morning Laura,
I received your book (The Autism Workbook) yesterday and it is absolutely amazing! As I evaluate young children (0-3) for developmental delays and write plans for them with their parents, there are a ton of ideas that are ready to use. Others that reinforce what I have been doing, and saying, all along. Thank you so, so much for writing this incredible book and pulling everything together in one place!"


"Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, experience, and guidance.
I’m a parent who bought the autism workbook and it’s the only clear resource I found to make a change in my son. I’m really thankful to Ms. Laura for helping out people like us all over the world."

"Laura Mize, all I have to say is that ALL YOUR STRATEGIES WORK."

ANNE, YouTube viewer

"We have 7 SLPs in our preschool (public) program for special needs children (ages 3-5) and we use your courses, books, and techniques every day! :-) We have seen our preschoolers make such great gains!"


"I just received Teach Me to Play With You, and it is ALREADY WORKING! WOW!

Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!"  It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me!  Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”

"I wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you. I started watching your videos/podcasts about 4 months ago. My son has gone from losing words he previously used, only having about 7 words at his 2 year check up in August (assessed at a blended 10 month language level) -- to now having so many words, increased social engagement, following commands, spontaneously requesting things, and naming letters & numbers (not in order) as well as colors. We had our monthly meeting with our SLP through the state infants & toddlers program and it felt like we were just bragging the whole time, but I knew in the back of my head it was because I have been using strategies you taught me.

We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.

Thank you so much, endlessly."


"I just want to tell how fortunate I feel to have found your website and you!! I became a special instructor in EI almost a year ago and I started with hardly any applicable training. I felt so lost and confused as how to help the kids I work with learn how to use words and play. Honestly, I didn't even understand the importance of play, although I always played with my kids. But, once I started to watch your podcasts and get some of your manuals I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I could finally teach these kids and their families something of value from a real therapist and based on research!. Thank you so much for seeing the need to help other EI service providers and providing a forum to share your knowledge and years of valuable experience. I'm sure you get a lot of these emails every week if not every day, but I wanted to make I could add to those notes of gratitude!! THANK YOU again!!"


"Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for these emails and your books, I have them all and they have seriously saved and improved my sessions with my kiddos. Huge thank you."


"I was very frustrated with how speech therapy was going for my child. I would take him and drop him off and not hear much of anything from his therapist and teachers other than, "He had a good (or a bad!) day." Your materials were invaluable for us because I learned how to work with him on his speech. I learned how to teach him to talk and play. I learned how to pay attention to his cues and work with him to teach him to communicate. Without it, I have no doubt he still wouldn’t talk."


"Hi! I just wanted to say (from an SLT perspective) how incredibly useful I am finding absolutely all of your articles, blogs and resources - I only discovered your site last month and have just received all your books which I feel I am learning more than on my entire university training course!! But also the way in which you give specific, realistic, fun, encouraging ideas for working with parents is really just fantastic, I only wish I have your site sooner! Thanks so much from the UK! Kind regards."


"I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for making things a little easier to manage for me this year. I made the transition from school SLP to private therapist about a year ago. While the change was welcome, it was a lot, and I was just getting my footing in the clinic when I began teletherapy full time. Your website has been a huge lifeline in helping me work with late talkers and coach their parents in an accessible but effective way, even remotely. I look forward to getting your emails each week. I am floored by the amount of valuable, free information that your website provides, and I’m looking forward to investing in your workbooks soon. A sincere thank you for all you do!"


"You are an inspiration! I am truly grateful for the way you put into words and writing how to do what we do as SLPs. At this time in my 13 years of practicing, I find your encouragement keeps me going. As a single mom, I find it a stretch to buy materials these days and I am so thankful for the freebies you so generously share that help me teach my families. I don’t have much time to put together lists or quick references for parents!! Much gratitude!!"