Pyramid of Potential



Auditory Processing, Listening Devices, and Phonemic Awareness




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March 25, 2015


Hey Folks!

In the past two months, I reviewed with you 6 primitive reflexes and how they relate to learning. This newsletter we will look at Listening Devices as a part of the process to go through from having an auditory processing problem to being able to having good "phonemic awareness" for reading. Last week we looked at integrating primitive reflexes as being the first step.


There is one more week for you to take advantage on the sale of the month, Primitive Reflexes; Foundations for Learning. Click here to find out more.


This is also the final week to sign up for our Brain Advancement Coach training. The last day to sign up will be March 27th. If you are interested please head over to our website for more information or contact us to find out if our training is right for you or to ask about our payment plan. 


Carol Brown of Equipping Minds is having a conference in April that I will be speaking at, along with several others. More information at


If you have already tried our primitive reflex exercises, I would love to hear your story. Please send me an email with your story and with your consent we will publish them on our testimonial page of our website. If you would like to hear what people have said, take a look at the page yourself.

Thank you so much! Kathy

Auditory Processing, Listening Devices, and Phonemic Awareness


In case you missed last week's newsletter, I will start with the definition of Auditory Processing:


Auditory processing disorder definition

"Children with APD may exhibit a variety of listening and related complaints. For example, they may have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following directions, and discriminating (or telling the difference between) similar-sounding speech sounds. Sometimes they may behave as if a hearing loss is present, often asking for repetition or clarification. In school, children with APD may have difficulty with spelling, reading, and understanding information presented verbally in the classroom. Often their performance in classes that don't rely heavily on listening is much better, and they typically are able to complete a task independently once they know what is expected of them."

From American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)


Listening Devices

You may be wondering what listening devices are. I made up the term, because I had not seen a category name for things that look a little like phones, but only transmit our own voice back to our own ear.


They can be made out of PVC piping found at any hardware store, or purchased for a few dollars from various manufacturers. You can find them called Phonic Phones, Tubaloos, Whisper Phones or Accordion Tubes. They all work well, as they are all simple plastic tubing directing the sound from the mouth to the ear.


Why are they effective? Most of our voice goes straight out from our body when we speak. Very little of it comes back to our ear to be processed. When speaking into this, the student must whisper, or too much of the volume will hurt the ear. So, when reading quietly into the phone, no other students can hear, allowing the student to read out loud. Many people remember what they read when reading out loud, but not when reading silently. This is a great advantage to those who read this way.


Ear Dominance and the Right Ear

Also, many people do not process sounds well. When they speak and read using this on the right side, the language goes into the right ear to be processed by the left hemisphere of the brain - where language is processed. The student finds that he can process auditory information easier when using one of these devices. It can truly help a person who has an auditory processing problem to be able to "hear" the sounds of the spoken language better, and therefore process more effectively and efficiently.


Phonemic Awareness

This is the ability to process the sounds of our language, distinguish between them, and manipulate them. A person who does not have this ability has difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words when reading. There are only 44 sounds in the English Language, according to Diane McGuinness, as opposed to 1500 letter combinations. Teaching reading through sound rather than letters becomes a very quick process!


I start the progression toward reading with primitive reflexes, so that the child's brain is set up to being able to learn. It truly is the foundation, as I've found with the work I've done and many others that have been trained in this over the past 15 years.


After reflex integration, or in conjunction with it, comes listening therapy as needed and listening devices as accommodations. Vision is addressed after auditory.


Now that the child can process what is heard, it is time for phonemic awareness, which is done without letters. It is strictly auditory, so that it is not overwhelming. I learned this process out of the book, Reading Reflex by McGuiness.



I give the child one sound at a time and they give me the word. We start with 2 sounds and work our way up to 5 distinct sounds. I do not teach blends or families, as that is too much information that is extraneous. If a child can blend 3 sounds but not 4 sounds, then the issue is NOT auditory processing - it is working memory. Working memory can be improved through cognitive training (like through Brain Advancement Coaching).



This time I give the child a word, and the child should be able to give me the individual sounds heard. If they cannot - perhaps because they don't "know" their short vowel sounds - then go back to step one. If they cannot segment a nonsense word like "fot" because they don't know their vowels, it means they cannot distinguish between those sounds. They need reflex integration, listening therapy, and listening devices. Start with 2 sound words and work your way up to 5 sound words.


Phoneme manipulation

There are many ways to manipulate phonemes - taking out a sound (what's "stop" without the sound /t/), adding a sound (what's "it" with a /ss/ added to the end), and replacing a sound (what's "slit" if I replace the /l/ with a /p/). This is a little more difficult than blending and segmenting, but very important to do well in order to become a quick decoding reader.


Only when the student is proficient with dealing with the sounds of our language is it appropriate to add in the next step - letters. Reading letters requires a good visual system and to combine that at the same time as working the auditory system is too much for most people who are struggling with reading. Work the steps in order, one at a time, soon reading is much easier!


Don't forget that the Course on DVD, Primitive Reflexes: Foundation for Learning is on sale until the end of the month. More in-depth information about the course can be found at


Next month I will be breaking down the complexities of visual processing, and what issues may be present beyond acuity (the ability to see clearly). If a person cannot process text, it is very difficult to read, write, and do math!

Tell Me Your Story

I am collecting stories about the effectiveness of primitive reflex integration, no matter what the process is or what method was used. Will you help? Please provide the following in your own words and in story form. Please keep it to about 2 paragraphs.

  • Diagnosis or issue
  • Changes found
  • Methodology
  • What reflexes were integrated
  • Other therapies that were used concurrently
  • Minimally their initials and location (state or country)


I will be putting these together in a free ebook organized by issue, so that people all over the world will have hope for themselves or loved ones. By sharing this everywhere, more people will get help. This is not to promote Pyramid of Potential, but instead to promote primitive reflexes. I want to collect hundreds!!


Thank you so much! Kathy


Contact Us
Kathy Johnson, MS Ed

Bob Johnson

Pyramid of Potential
245 Washington St #3369
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Take a Look!
Sale of the Month

Get Primitive Reflexes: Foundations for Learning with a huge savings of 20%

This 7 hour webinar course includes history, research, and videos on how to test and integrate 6 primitive reflexes that are truly the foundation for learning, Moro, Palmar, Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex, Spinal Galant, Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex and Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex. If you are interested in obtaining CEUs for taking this course, please contact Kathy Johnson at
Offer Expires 3/31/2015. 
Overcoming Reading Problems - Auditory Processing
Kathy Johnson of Pyramid of Potential and author of The Roadmap From Learning Disabilities to Success, describes one of the main causes of reading problems - auditory processing difficulties.
Kathy Johnson of Pyramid of Potential and author of The Roadmap From Learning Disabilities to Success, describes one of the main causes of reading problems - auditory processing difficulties.
Upcoming Presentations

March 10, 2015

6:30 to 8:30pm

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Kathy Johnson of Pyramid of Potential


Improving Memory For All Ages:

Putting the Research into Practice

No matter what caused the memory problem - age, learning disability, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, stroke, or even if you don't know the exact cause, neuroplasticity of the brain means that the brain can change and that memory can improve.

Please come and spend the evening learning how to overcome brain issues. For the past 13 years, Ms. Johnson has been helping people of all ages and issues using the latest in brain research. She will take you through a few examples of how this is done, as well as show you case studies from her own experience and from a school that has implemented these procedures.


Coming up:


ADHD: Overcoming It Without Drugs 

April 14, 6:30 - 8:45

Presented through the SIMEN network

Saratoga Public Library, Saratoga Springs, NY


Stroke and TBI: What to do beyond Insurance-covered Rehab 

May 21, 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Improving Reading When Reading Methods Don't Work Well Enough 

June 18, 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Improving Handwriting and Composition Abilities

August 20. 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Improving Math and Word Problems When the Methods Don't Work Well Enough

September 17, 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Where's Kathy?

It is now time to set up your professional development at your school - Kathy is available for many dates this Fall! Call now to secure YOUR date!


Below are the upcoming workshops that Kathy Johnson is giving. If she is not coming to your area, why not hire her for your next professional development?


  Kathy Johnson Photo 2010

Leading Edge Seminars Inc.

Working with Children with ADD 

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

June 1, 2015 9:00 to 4:30


Thursday, April 23, 2015 in OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 
Early Registration: $189.99 

Friday, April 24, 2015 in DALLAS, TX
Early Registration: $189.99 


Wednesday, May 13, 2015 in FORT LEE, NJ 
Early Registration: $189.99 

Thursday, May 14, 2015 in PARSIPPANY, NJ
Early Registration: $189.99 

Friday, May 15, 2015 in SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ 
Early Registration: $189.99 


If you aren't near any of these on-site professional development conferences, consider the following:


Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach   Price: $169.99  Author: Kathy Johnson, MS Ed.  Format: DVD