Are you a slow learner?
How fast are you listening?

Processing Speed

Listening is one of the fastest things our brain has to do. For example, it takes only 40 milliseconds to distinguish the word cat from cut. Consequently, many children struggling with language have difficulty tracking rapid acoustic changes. This undermines their ability to map the component language sounds which we associate with letters. Such children will struggle to retrieve these sounds as they are reading and will struggle to become a proficient reader.

Tallal, Warnke and others have established that processing speed for adequate speech comprehension needs to be faster than 100 milliseconds (ms). Children with a learning difficulty and/or an attention deficit are SLOW processors, while children with ADHD process normally or faster. If your processing is slower than 100ms, you will not be able to distinguish the ‘t’ from ‘i’ in ‘ticked’- you cannot sort out which sound came first, and spelling will be difficult.

If your processing is slower than 200ms, the “ck” sound will add more confusion. If it is slower than 400ms, you will be unable to make any sense of the word. [1.] We see children with processing times as slow as 1000ms. Depending on their intelligence, these children can have severe language delay and speech problems.


Processing speed can be thought of as the amount ‘thinking’ time needed before one can respond and it is correlated with attention. Slower processing makes it harder to capture information, process it and respond in a timely manner. Research by Tallal suggest that children with an attention deficit often processes sensory inputs far too slowly while hyperactive children have normal to very fast processing speeds.

How can listening therapy help?

By stimulating the neural pathways to and from the brain, iLs programs can significantly improve the brain’s speed of processing – for both auditory and visual stimuli. My ongoing research tracking study has identified that, on average, after completing a clinic iLs / DLS Listening program, client’s processing speed increases by 100% or better. This doubling in processing speed delivers a significant improvement in auditory comprehension in the classroom.
[1.] Sound Therapy, talk to the Mind of the Child Conference. Aug 22,1999 by Dr Mary Lou Shiel, M.B.B.S., D.C.H. (London).

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