Children with hearing loss are challenged with keeping up in the classroom because their fragmented hearing causes them to have to expend more effort to listen, leaving fewer cognitive resources for listening comprehension. This results in a higher level of fatigue that further exacerbates learning. Interestingly, research has shown that children who have stronger working memory (short-term memory) are more resilient to these challenges and have better listening comprehension abilities. So as we consider the needs of children with hearing loss, it is important to also identify if there are strengths or nonstrengths in memory. The TAPS-3 has many very strong subtests that are helpful in letting us know what a student is doing with what he hears – including memory abilities. The TAPS-3 is not a measure of auditory processing. The test has three parts: phonological or phonemic processing, memory, and language comprehension and reasoning. It is primarily a language and cognitive test and might be one of the best language processing tests around.
-Karen Anderson, Director
The TAPS-3 is a very thorough reshaping of the Test of Auditory Perceptual Skills (authored by M. Gardner) that offers seamless coverage for ages 4 through 18 years. An optional Auditory Figure-Ground task has also been added as a supplemental subtest presented via CD to flag attention problems and give feedback about how the child’s auditory system works in “real-world” situations.
- Word Discrimination,
- Phonological Segmentation,
- Phonological Blending,
- Numbers Forward
- Numbers Reversed
- Word Memory
- Sentence Memory
- Auditory Comprehension, and
- Auditory Reasoning
The TAPS-3 is an untimed test. It can be completed in about one hour and scored in about 15-20 minutes.
Detailed scoring criteria are provided, with alternate acceptable answers when applicable.The TAPS-3 norms are nationally stratified to match as closely as possible the demographics shown in the latest US Census with regard to gender, ethnicity, residence, geographic location, and parent educational level. Norms are based data from over 2000 students. Individual subtests are reported as scaled scores, while cluster scores (Phonological Skills, Memory, and Cohesion) and the overall score are reported standard scores; percentile ranks and age equivalents are also provided.
COMPLETE TAPS-3 KIT INCLUDES: Manual, 25 Test Booklets, and an Auditory Figure-Ground CD.
The information below describing the specifics of the TAPS-3 comes from an article by J. R. Luckner.
The first three subtests on the TAPS-3 deal with phonological processing. One is for blending words and is administered live voice. The other is segmenting words which can be influenced by accents and regional dialects. However, if we accept that the examiner is of the same regional dialect as the examinee and is speaking sufficiently loud and at a proper timing for the phonemes in the blending task, these two subtests only evaluate one aspect of auditory processing, that is, phonological processing. The third subtest in the phonological section of the TAPS-3 is for discriminating words. A sample question is for the child to tell whether the two words spoken are the same or different.
The assumption by most evaluators and by the authors of the TAPS-3 is that the child is discriminating the phonemes in the words and making cognitive decisions as to whether the phonemes are the same in both words. However, if this is truly a test of auditory discrimination, then if the evaluator were to say the words “house, house,” and drop his/her volume for the second word, say the second word at an overall lower pitch, and pronounce the vowels in the two words differently, and the child truly used auditory based discrimination processing and said, “the words are different,” the child would get the item, “house/house” wrong. Regardless of what are the auditory patterns in saying “house” and “house,” the two words do not change in linguistic meaning, thus, the auditory discrimination task on a test like the TAPS-3 is really a language discrimination task. A child with language processing or language/cognitive decision-making problem could fail the auditory discrimination subtest on the TAPS-3 and that child might have perfect auditory processing abilities.
The next section of the TAPS-3 involves memory. There is memory for digits, words, and sentences. The digit memory tasks are for repeating digits forwards and backwards. Memory tests have nothing to do with auditory processing. Auditory processing has to do with auditory pattern recognition. Remembering and repeating numbers or words in appropriate sequence have nothing to do with your abilities to identify and discriminate the patterns of sound you hear. Digit memory often is associated with a variety of cognitive processes such as executive functioning/ working memory, chunking, and memory capacity.
Word memory involves language and is often related to categorizing the words you hear, associating the words, and recalling the words from the associations and categories you created. As for sentence memory, it is largely a language based task. For example, if the sentence presented were, “The boy went to the store to buy bread,” you would identify the key linguistic elements such as “boy – store – bread,” and using your language knowledge, you would put them back together during the repetition task as “The boy went to the store to buy bread.” Therefore, a child with poor language knowledge can fail tests of sentence memory, yet the child might have an excellent cognitive memory capacity and an excellent ability to distinguish all of the auditory patterns as being different (or the same for the words “the” and “to”) in that sentence. Therefore, tests of memory are not tests of auditory processing.
The last section of the TAPS-3 relates to two subtests called Auditory Comprehension and Auditory Reasoning. By its name, the second subtest involves the high level cognitive processes involved in reasoning or thinking and decision making. For the TAPS-3, the reasoning aspect is to think about the linguistic message presented. Thus, the child must have the language processing capabilities to figure out the meaning of the verbal utterance on a linguistic level and the cognitive processing capabilities to figure out the general meaning of the utterance and how to answer the question asked such as a “Why” question. Auditory processing has nothing specifically to do with language reasoning.
The auditory comprehension subtest involves similar processes as for reasoning. The listener has to figure out the linguistic meaning of the words and the sentences spoken, has to remember (memory) the context of the message and the words used, and has to respond to a number of specific questions about the linguistic and cognitive details in the short stories spoken. Thus, it is really a measure of language comprehension and not of auditory processing.