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Listening to Voicemails: Functional Cognitive & Language Therapy Exercises

Posted by Emily Dubas, MS, CCC-SLP
Emily Dubas, MS, CCC-SLP
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When listening skills are affected after a stroke or other type of brain injury, it can have a significant functional impact on many parts of our lives- including social interactions, work, and leisure activities.

Listening and language comprehension are commonly incorporated in speech-language therapy for people with aphasia. However, understanding spoken information can also be affected by cognitive impairments as well. Cognitive skills such as attention, memory, processing speed, and problem solving are also involved. As a result, auditory comprehension therapy exercises can be incorporated into sessions to address a variety of skills.

So if you’re working on language or cognitive goals, here are two functional speech therapy materials for listening skills: Voicemail and Inference Voicemail.

Featured Task: Voicemail

voicemail task

 What is Voicemail?

Your client will listen to a voicemail and answer a series of questions based on the information heard. For example: Who left the voicemail? What day of the week did John call? What time does Mary want to meet?

How is Voicemail Leveled?

There is 1 level. All voicemails are about 2-3 sentences in length and presented at a natural speaking rate. The questions ask about information explicitly stated in the voicemail. The questions are multiple choice with 2 distractors.

How is Voicemail Scored?

Scoring is binary (response is either correct or incorrect). The client has the opportunity to review response before moving on to the next item. Overall score is based on the % correct items given.

Need to listen to the voicemail multiple times? No problem! If the client needs repetition, he/she can tap on the sound icon. Clinicians can monitor how many cues are needed.

Featured Task: Inference Voicemail

inference voicemail task

What is Inference Voicemail?

If you’re looking for a comprehension therapy app that targets inferencing, give Inference Voicemails a try! Your client will listen to a voicemail and be presented with a series of more challenging, inference-based questions.

To answer these questions accurately, you must “listen between the lines” and draw conclusions based on what is heard.

How is Inference Voicemail Leveled?

There is 1 level. All voicemails are about 2-3 sentences in length and presented at a natural speaking rate. The questions ask about information that is not explicitly stated in the voicemail. You must use inferencing skills to select the correct answer. The questions are multiple choice with 2 distractors.

How is Inference Voicemail Scored?

Scoring is binary (response is either correct or incorrect). The client has the opportunity to review response before moving on to the next item. Overall score is based on the % correct items given.

Your client can listen to the voicemail multiple times if needed by tapping on the sound icon. Clinicians can monitor how many repetitions are needed.

Functional Speech Therapy Activities

How can Voicemail and Inference Voicemail be used in therapy? These functional tasks are address many cognitive, language, and everyday skills.

Here’s some of the skills that these tasks target:

  • Auditory Comprehension: This comprehension activity targets listening at the paragraph level in the context of an activity of daily living.
  • Attention: These tasks require sustained auditory attention as you must maintain your attention for the duration of the voicemail. You can also use this task to target more complex attention as well. For example, for selective attention, you can add in an auditory or visual distraction while the voicemail plays. For alternating attention, the client can listen to the voicemail, then switch to a different task, then alternate back to the voicemail task to answer the comprehension questions.
  • Memory: This is a great verbal memory task! Practice internal or external memory strategies while listening to the voicemail. Encourage the client to answer all the questions before listening to the voicemail again.
  • Problem Solving: Tired of searching for paper-based inference worksheets for adults? In Inference Voicemail, you will need to draw inferences from the presented information in order to answer accurately.
  • Processing Speed: Use Constant Therapy’s latency times to monitor processing speed, which can be helpful feedback for the client about how processing speed is improving over time.
  • Writing: Practice taking notes while listening to the voicemail.
  • Unilateral Left Neglect or Left Inattention: The client must scan to the left side of the screen to play the voicemail.

Looking for more ways to target comprehension? Research has also found that training attention can help improve auditory comprehension in aphasia therapy (Helm-Estabrooks, 2016).  Click to learn more about Constant Therapy’s attention tasks.

References:

  1. Helm-Estabrooks, N. (2016). Treating attention to improve auditory comprehension deficits associated with aphasia . American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, 64-71.
  2. Martin-Saez, M., Deakins, J., Winson, R., Watson, P., & Wilson, B. (2011). A 10-year follow up of a paging service for people with memory and planning problems within a healthcare system: How do recent users differ from the original users. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 769-83.
  3. Mazaux, J., Lagadec, T., De Seze, M., Zongo, D., Asselineau, J., Douce, E.,... Darrigrand, B. (2013). Communication activity in stroke patients with aphasia. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 341-46.
  4. McInnes, A., Humphries, T., Hogg-Johnson, S., & Tannock, R. (2003). Listening comprehension and working memory are impaired in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  5. Sorqvist, P., & Ronnberg, J. (2012). Episodic long-term memory of spoken discourse masked by speech: what Is the role for working memory capacity? Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 210-18.

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Constant Therapy is an award-winning cognitive and speech therapy app, created for survivors of stroke, brain injury, and other neurogenic disorders.

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