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Auditory Processing Difficulties

by

Leonardo Rocker

What is Auditory Processing?

Auditory Processing refers to the brain's ability to recognise and interpret the sounds from the surrounding environment. People with Auditory Processing difficulties do not process information in the same way as others, as their ears and brain to not completely co-ordinate. Something adversely affects the way these people recognise and interpret sounds, particularly the sounds involved in speech. People experiencing these difficulties may be diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).

What are the symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder?

People with APD may have difficulties with the following tasks:

  • Focusing on the voice of one person in noisy environments
  • Remembering instructions given verbally
  • Distinguishing between similar words, such as slime/climb, thin/thing etc
  • Filtering out background noise
  • Sustaining attention for periods of time
  • Participating appropriately in discussions with groups of people, such as in the classroom.

They may also show academic difficulties, behavioural difficulties and/or social difficulties.

Could it be something else?

Before your child is diagnosed with APD, it is important to rule out the following issues:

  • Hearing loss
  • Learning difficulties
  • Attention problems such as ADD
  • Other language problems
  • Major developmental difficulties such as Autism

What can I do if my child is experiencing Auditory Processing Difficulties?

Auditory Processing Disorder is best treated by an Audiologist or Speech Pathologist. However, the following strategies may be implemented to make some tasks easier for your child.

  • Try to make sure that his learning environments (both at home and at school) are as quiet as possible when concentration is required.
  • Ask your child's teacher if she can sit at the desk closest to the teacher's desk, so the teacher's voice is loud compared to others.
  • Give your child written instructions for homework, chores, etc so he can refer if he has forgotten.
  • Break instructions into small, achievable steps and give small rewards or verbal praise when each step is completed
  • Visual cues for tasks at home and at school should be provided to aid your child in understanding what is required of her
  • Ensure you have your child's attention (e.g. eye contact) before speaking to him
  • Check that your child has understood what has been said to her by asking her to repeat or summarize the instructions she was given

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Further Reading

Flower in a Pot

View article references

  • Information for this fact sheet was taken from the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service website; National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (2004), and from Child Psychologist Kimberley O'Brien.

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