What IS Auditory Processing?
Children with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves may be loud and clear. For example, the request, "Tell me how a chair and a stool are alike," may actually sound to a child with APD like, "Tell me how a hare and a tool are alike." Problems like this one are often more a likely to occur when a person with APD is in a noisy environment or when he or she is listening to complex information.
APD may also be known by other terms. Sometimes it is referred to as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). Other common names for APD are auditory perception problem, auditory comprehension deficit, central auditory dysfunction, central deafness, and even word deafness.
Symptoms of Possible Auditory Processing Difficulty
Children with auditory processing difficulty typically have normal hearing and intelligence. However, they may experience:
-Trouble paying attention to and remembering information presented orally
-Problems carrying out directions with several steps
-Poor listening skills
-The need more time to process information
-Low academic performance
-Some behavior problems
-Some language difficulty (e.g., confusing syllable sequences, problems developing vocabulary and understanding language)
-Difficulty with reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary
What Should You Do If You Suspect an Auditory Processing Problem?
You as a parent, teacher, or day care provider may be the first person to notice symptoms of auditory processing difficulty in your child. If you do have such a concern, you should:
1. First, talk to your child's teacher about his school or pre-school performance and your concerns. Be sure to include any observations you have made at home concerning your child.
2. Consider visiting the healthcare professionals who can diagnose APD in your child. Sometimes there may be a need for ongoing observation with the professionals involved. These professionals will try to rule out other health problems.
a. Make an appointment with your child's pediatrician or family doctor can help to rule out possible diseases that can cause some of these same symptoms. He or she will also measure and evaluate the growth and development of the child.
b. Discover if there is a disease or disorder related to hearing. To do this, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist--a physician who specializes in diseases and disorders of the head and neck. Your child's pediatrician or a local healthcare center can provide you with a good referral for such a specialist.
c. Learn if your child has a hearing function problem. This can be determined by an audiologic evaluation. An audiologist will give specific tests that can determine the softest sounds and words a person can hear and other tests to see how well people can recognize sounds in words and sentences.
d. Visit a speech & language pathologist who can evaluate how well a person understands and uses language.
e. Consult with a mental health professional can give you information about cognitive and behavioral challenges that may contribute to problems in some cases, or he or she may have suggestions that will be helpful.
f. Keep in mind that because the audiologist can help with the functional problems of hearing and processing, and the speech-language pathologist is focused on language, they ALL may work as a team to help your child. All of these professionals can work together to seek and provide the best outcome for your child.
In the meantime, it may be possible to help improve one's auditory processing ability. However, much research is still needed to understand APD problems, related disorders, and the best intervention for each child or adult.
Several strategies are available to help children with auditory processing difficulties. Some of these are commercially available but have not yet been fully studied. Any strategy selected should be used under the guidance of a team of professionals, and the effectiveness of the strategy needs to be evaluated. Researchers are currently studying a variety of approaches to treatment. Several strategies you may hear about include:
1. Auditory trainers are electronic devices that allow a person to focus attention on a speaker and reduce the interference of background noise. They are often used in classrooms, where the teacher wears a microphone to transmit sound and the child wears a headset to receive the sound. Children who wear hearing aids can use them in addition to the auditory trainer.
2. Environmental modifications such as classroom acoustics, placement, and an appropriate change in seating may help. An audiologist may suggest ways to improve the listening environment, and he or she will be able to monitor any changes in hearing status.
3. Exercises to improve language-building skills can increase the ability to learn new words and increase a child's language base.
4. Auditory memory enhancement, a procedure that reduces detailed information to a more basic representation, may help. Also, informal auditory training techniques can be used by teachers and therapists to address specific difficulties.
5. Games or software applications (apps) may be able to help improve auditory processing to a certain degree in some individuals. For the convenience of our readers, we have provided a list of resources that may be able to help:
Games & Activities to Help Improve Auditory Processing
18 Auditory Processing Activities You Can Do Without Spending a Dime!
by Bonnie Terry Learning
Activities to Enhance Auditory Processing
Activities to Improve Language Skills in Children with APD
by Chris O of Speech Buddies
Apps to Help Improve Auditory Processing
Virtual Speech Center's 8 Auditory Processing Apps
Virtual Speech Center offers innovative mobile software solutions for schools, private practices, independent speech pathologists and parents. The company provides a wide range of mobile applications for speech therapy developed for iPad and iPhone devices. Some of their applications are offered at no charge to speech pathologists.
Top Apps for Auditory Processing Disorder
List compiled by Smart Apps for Special Needs
Apps for Auditory Processing/Sound Discrimination Skills
by Lauren S. Enders, MA, CCC-SLP (via Pinterest)
National Autism Resources, Inc.
This organization is a global leader in providing cost effective, research-based therapeutic tools that meet the needs of people on the autism spectrum across their lifespan since 2008. Their tools and adaptive technologies work together to improve skills and significantly decrease impairment.
Auditory Processing---from The National Assoc. of Child Development
by Lori Riggs, MA, CCC/SLP Director, Center for Speech and Sound
For more information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
Image courtesy of:
Shutterstock at http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-203771752/stock-vector-ear-icon-with-shadow.html?src=&ws=0
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com