The mission at Links to Learning is to enhance the health, learning, cognitive function and productivity of those who are seeking to realize their full potential.
Links to Learning was established to provide resources to individuals who experience learning or behavioural problems.
The principal belief of our work is based on 'Neuroplasticity' which is the brains ability to change.
We offer a screening to understand potential underlying causes of why an individual is not developing as expected using The Test of Auditory and Visual Processing Skills (TAVS)
The Test of Auditory and Visual Skills (TAVS) is a versatile diagnostic screening tool developed to assess a range of fundamental auditory and visual skills. These basic skills are well understood to be vital for the higher level development of phonological awareness, speech, reading, memory and attention. TAVS assess the underpinning sensory skills necessary to learn to read, speak, listen and concentrate.
Many children who struggle academically are offered catch up phonics, literacy and numeracy programs without considering that the delays in learning may be more fundamental in nature than a simple lack of experience and practice. Underpinning the ability to read, listen, concentrate and communicate is the ability to take in and process auditory and visual information.
The testing of areas such as temporal processing, pitch perception, gap detection and others are vital to understanding at what level a child is delayed. This information can guide a teacher or therapist to know exactly what level of intervention or remediation is needed to ensure the quickest progress for the child.
TAVS offers a powerful way to assess many areas of low level visual and auditory processing to know whether sensory processing is impaired and if it is suitable to solely focus an intervention upon more cognitive levels of function.
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Why screen auditory and visual processing skills?
Children who find reading a challenge have been shown to have difficulties with a variety of basic sensory processing skills. These include pitch perception[i], auditory temporal processing[ii], gap detection[iii], pitch pattern tone duration[iv] and others. These are fundamental auditory processing skills for reading development as well as listening and concentration.
It is clear then that auditory and visual processing challenges are an important area to consider for anyone working with children with literacy and concentration problems. If children do have these fundamental challenges with the processing of visual and auditory information, extra reading, phonics or other programmes can have a limited effect.
Auditory and visual processing is often a component of labels such as Dyslexia[vii], ADHD[viii] and many others. Assessment of these areas is therefore an important part of a full understanding of processing capabilities at a sensory level.
TAVS is a unique tool for assessing many subtle areas of auditory processing. Screening areas that are important for listening, reading and attention skills can help to understand the challenges that many children and adults may be having within the classroom, at work, at home or in social situations.
- Temporal Order processing. This has been shown to have close links to reading ability, speech and phonological awareness and across visual, auditory and tactile domains, Laasonen et al, (2001). Children and adults with TO results outside the expected norms may well be at risk of poor speech development and phonological awareness, poor reading abilities, challenges with sequencing of information and short-term memory deficits.
- Fusion Threshold: is a measure of temporal resolution. Temporal resolution refers to the auditory system's ability to follow rapid changes in the envelope of sound. This is a key factor in processing sound across time. Challenges with temporal resolution have been shown to correlate with reading and language development difficulties.
- Auditory Motor: subtest assesses the ability to perceive a steady beat and match the beat. Children and adults who have challenges with keeping to an external steady beat will often have difficulties in areas of literacy, language and phonological awareness. These are not explained by any motor difficulty. Thomson and Goswami (2008) found that “Children who were particularly inconsistent in tapping to a particular rate showed the poorest literacy and phonological development.
- Pitch Discrimination: is seen to be an important factor that is correlated with phonemic awareness. Loui et al. (2011). Therefore, values outside normal ranges in this subtest would indicate challenges with listening and literacy development due to phonological awareness deficits.
- Duration Patterns Strong levels of auditory processing require us to be able to process the length of tones as well as pitch changes. In language, as in the natural world, tones can differ in length as well as pitch and therefore results outside expected ranges for these subtests can indicate difficulties with phonological processing.
- Noisegap: This subtest is a further test of temporal resolution. Gap in noise tests are used as part of a measure of central auditory function.. As a further measure of temporal resolution, results from the Noisegap subtest will be an indication of difficulties in auditory processing. As Shinn et al observe, “Accurate processing of the timing elements of sound is crucial to the most basic processing at the neuronal level to complex higher level speech perception and spoken language processing”.
- Directional Hearing: Sound localization is possible because there are tiny differences in volume and timing in directional sound entering the left and right ear. Results obtained that are in the unusual or significant ranges according to the current norms provided by Tewes indicate a challenge with the timing of auditory signals being processed in the brain stem. Sound localization and lateralization are seen as a fundamental component of auditory processing difficulties as it involves the processing of volume and timing differences between the two ears.
- Sequence Order: The sequence order subtest gives a tone and a click and asks us to answer “which came first?” The tone and click seek to replicate the effect of vowels and consonants in language. Backward and forward masking occurs as is natural when phonemes are blended within language. The click generated by the TAVS is only 1msec long; however the pause also belongs to the click. This is the threshold measured in milliseconds that is used to score the result in this subtest. This corresponds to the voice onset time (VOT) and voice offset time which is the silent transference phase from consonant to vowel and vowel to consonant. A result well outside the mean ranges would therefore indicate a challenge with phonological blending, segmentation and perhaps gap detection. This would correlate with difficulties with listening, language and literacy challenges.
- Crossmodality: Most testing measures available will only assess one sensory system at a time. It is, of course, important to be able to assess either auditory function or visual function. However in daily life we use a combination of senses with which to interact with the world. Therefore, testing how the visual and auditory systems combine to give us a single integrated appreciation of our environment, can give us vital information about the subject completing the test. The crossmodality test is a measure of the temporal integration between the visual and auditory systems. By alternating between visual and auditory stimulus it is possible to assess which sensory mode is the most dominant when attention is divided between the two sensory systems.
[i] Loui, P., Kroog, K., Zuk,J., Winner, E., and Schlaug, G. (2011) Relating pitch awareness to phonemic awareness in children: implications for tone-deafness and dyslexia. Frontiers In Psychology, 2011; Vol. 2, Article 111
[ii] Cacace, A. T., McFarland, J., Ouimet, J. R., Schreiber, J. and Marro, P. (1999) Temporal Processing Deficits in Remediation-Resistant Reading-Impaired Children. Audiology and Neuro- Otology, 2000; Vol. 5 pp83–97
[iii] Zaidan, E. and Baran, J.A., (2013) Gaps-in-noise (GIN©) test results in children with and without reading disabilities and phonological processing deficits. International Journal of Audiology, 2013: Vol. 52, pp 113-123
[iv] Walker, M. M., Givens, G.D., Cranford, J.L., Holbert, D. and Walker, L. (2006) Auditory pattern recognition and brief tone discrimination of children with reading disorders. Journal of Communication Disorders, 2013: Vol. 39, pp 442-45
[v] Laasonsen, M., Service, E. and Virsu, V. (2001) Temporal order and processing acuity of visual, auditory and tactile perception in developmentally dyslexic young adults. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Neuroscience, 2001: Vol.1 (4), pp. 394-410
[vi] Talcott, J. B., Hansen, P.C., Willis-Owen, C., McKinnell, I. W., Richardson, A. J. and Stein J. F. (1998) Visual magnocellular impairment in adult developmental dyslexics. Neuro-Opthamology, 1998 Vol 20 (4), 187-201
[vii] Heiervang, E.,Stevenson, J. and Hugdhal, K. (2002) Auditory Processing in children with Dyslexia. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2002: Vol. 43:7 pp931-938
[viii] Smith, A., Taylor, E., Warner Rogers, J., Newman, S. and Rubia, K. (2002) Evidence for a pure time perception deficit in children with ADHD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2002: Vol. 43:4 pp529-54
Our Director Tracey Butler has received all her training through Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT) in the USA. She is now a member of their professional training faculty. To read more on this and to view members of the SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD please see http://a.advancedbrain.com/tlp/science_board.jsp
Links to Learning have an international alliance with Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT). ABT is continuing to develop innovative products which are a result of over 30 years of clinical research by experts in the field. ABT have the latest neuroscience and music research available.
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Check out our exclusive interview on Channel 7's Today Tonight, as they interview Tracey Butler, our Director, regarding Sensory & Auditory Processing Difficulties!!
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About Tracey Butler
Tracey Butler – International Speaker, Trainer and Practitioner
Through the gift of her own son’s diagnosis of an Auditory Processing Disorder 15 years ago, Tracey was projected on a path passionately driven to find a solution to overcome this often hidden disability and the significant challenges it brings to the table. She found the answer in The Listening Program. And today Tracey is incredibly proud of her son Ben, who in his final year of schooling authored the book “I Can Hear You…but I Don’t Know What You’re Saying. Ben is now in the final year of his Electrical Apprenticeship.
The success of the program with her son led to pioneering this technology in Australia and through her Links to Learning company she has since transformed the lives of thousands of children. More far reaching is the accomplishment of her vision to integrate these programs into the school system. With now more than 100 schools in Australia and New Zealand trained to provide access to students in need.
Tracey is the Australasian representative of Advanced Brain Technologies. Her outstanding reputation in the industry is evidenced by a wealth of in-depth knowledge derived from working with families for over a decade and delivering world class professional training across a range of sectors. By devising programs from a range of ABT products including TLP, InTime, Achieve and Spectrum she has obtained the most spectacular results that meet the needs of individuals with a range of challenges from autism to brain injury.
Tracey is an international speaker, trainer and practitioner. She has presented her expertise at conferences, seminars and workshops around the world including USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Tracey continues to work one on one with families throughout Australia with her practice Links To Learning. Tracey believes it is the children and their outcomes who can teach us most. The gift of their transformation feeds her hunger to continue to learn more. Her training and support of over 500 Practitioners throughout Australia and New Zealand has certainly contributed to an increased awareness of neuroplasticity.
Her vision is that children may have the opportunity for earlier intervention leading to stronger learning outcomes, easier social interactions, more positive behaviours and ultimately happier families.
These kids are the future of our world……and the centre of every parent’s universe.