Auditory and Visual Digit Spans

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The differences in intellectual abilities between digit spans of 10’s and 14’s, or beyond

by Michele Aldridge

I have utilized the teaching tools of auditory and visual digit spans with all of my children over my many years association with NACD and Robert Doman. My eldest child is brain injured and has been on program for more years than I care to number. One of the outstanding benefits of having a child on program all these years has been my opportunity to apply some of the teaching tools I have learned with the rest of my children.

I have witnessed the differences in the educational abilities of my children, and some of these differences I attribute to their prowess at digit spans. I have seen what digit spans of 10, 12, 14 and more, mean in my children. I have a daughter who finished home schooling with auditory and visual digit spans of 10. She was a good student, able to finish college with a 3.77 GPA, with hard work. She remembered well and studied hard for her grades. She completed a degree in Business Management. She was able to complete 2 semesters of Calculus with A marks, but she knew she did not want to take any more math or science. Math and science course work demand excellent memory skills in order to follow multi-step algorithms and solve very complex problems.

I have a son who had auditory and visual digit spans of 12 when graduating home school. He studied Computer Science and mathematics at university, earning straight A’s. He studied, but not nearly as much as my business student. He was able to apply years of training to complex computer graphics and artificial intelligence problems, producing short, efficient, and effective coding systems. During his university studies he continued to increase his visual and auditory digit spans to 14 and beyond. He is able to understand, communicate and solve very complex problems, in his head! His depth of understanding and conceptualization is far beyond that of a person with digit spans of 10.  

Another of my children, a daughter, just completed her graduate degree in Computer Science, with straight A’s. She tells me her digit spans were once 16’s—she was in competition with her brother. She has no difficulty remembering complicated driving directions, and she can visualize them in map form in her head. She never gets lost. She knows she understands, and communicates more effectively than many of her peers. She believes that digit spans are just one tool to improve academic performance, to help get a person ready to learn more easily and efficiently. All the rigorous education she has received has contributed to her success, and she counts digit spans as one useful tool.

My fourth child to enter college began with great hopes for math and computer science. She did not succeed her first full semester. She is now taking a business degree. Her digit spans were 10’s. From my personal experience, I think digit spans are a very important tool to improve educational outcome. My two children successful in Computer Science agree.

One of my younger children has shown a different response to digit spans. When she was 7, she seemed to be unaware of some of the consequences of her actions. She might do something which could lead to an injury, or physical damage, and not be able to “see” that her actions could cause such a result. I tested her, and her digits were only 5’s. We worked together to improve her digit spans to 7’s and 8’s, and now she is much more responsible, and aware of the possible results of her actions. She was not choosing to cause difficulties, so much as she was unaware of the possibilities, because she was not processing information far enough into the future. She is much happier now, since she can see how her actions will affect people, and she chooses to be kind, which is her nature.

I can see the results of training to increase digit spans in all my children. They are more receptive to learning. It is a joy to teach my children because they “get it” quickly, and if it is of interest to them, they remember the information and can apply it. They comprehend and analyze sophisticated issues well beyond their years. It is a pleasure to converse with my children, and they love to think. Digit spans are an excellent tool for preparing a child for ease of learning.

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 19 No. 4, 2006 ©NACD

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