by Rynette R. Kjesbo, M.S., CCC-SLP and Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP
What Are Sound-Object Associations?
We make associations or connections between sounds and objects when we see an object,
hear its sound(s), and then store that information in our memories. This process
of recognizing and identifying what we see and hear is sound-object association.
We live in a world full of sound, and different sounds mean different things. It
is important for children to develop good sound-object association skills in order
to make sense of their surroundings at home, at school, and in the community.
Sound-object associations develop early in a child’s life. One of the first sound-object
associations is a child’s knowledge of his/her mother and her voice. Other early
sounds children hear and see together include animal noises (moo, quack, neigh,
etc.), transportation noises (beep beep, choo choo, etc.), and toy noises (ping,
crash, pop, etc.). As children grow and develop, they have more exposure to different
objects and different sounds.
Why Is Sound-Object Association Important?
It is important for children to learn to recognize and make sense of the sounds
they hear in their environments. The ability to hear, recognize, and attach meaning
to environmental sounds is a first step toward phonological awareness (the ability
to identify, mix together, break apart, and change around the sounds in words) and
literacy. As well, knowing what sounds go with certain objects helps children develop
both their vocabulary skills and their overall comprehension.
Learning different types of sound-object associations can also help children increase
their perceptual skills. For example, children can learn that “moo” goes with “cow”
in many different contexts. These can include seeing a real cow mooing on a farm;
hearing a parent say “moo” while reading a book about a cow; watching a cartoon
about a cow and hearing a “moo” sound; hearing a stuffed animal cow say “moo”; and
making the “moo” sound themselves, possibly while playing dress-up! It is important
to remember that children develop their sound-association skills over time and with
more exposure. As they become more advanced in their sound-association skills, they
can do a variety of listening tasks, which helps build a good foundation for success
in the classroom.