Saturday, May 28, 2011

Auditory Processing Disorder

Maybe your child's teacher has told you that she is struggling with reading and that she doesn't seem to pay attention to the directions given for assignments. You've noticed that if you ask her a question when the radio is on that her answer may not relate to the question you asked. Maybe she can't remember her home phone number or writes numbers out of sequence. Perhaps you've had her hearing checked and she passed with flying colors, but she is becoming discouraged by school and you're wondering what's going on. One possible explanation could be an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), which is sometimes called Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD.)

In APD the physical function of the inner ear is in tact, but somewhere along the line as the sound is transmitted to the brain and processed for information to act on, the signal is scrambled or misinterpreted and is acted on incorrectly. This can lead to big challenges with learning and behavior.
Because it can have similar symptoms, APD can be confused with Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD) or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). APD can also occur in addition to these or other disorders, so it is important to get a full evaluation from a qualified professional to best understand exactly what is happening with your child.

There are several different auditory skills that may be affected by processing disorders:
  • Auditory Discrimination - ability to distinguish and segment words into individual sounds - key for reading and writing
  • Auditory Figure-Ground Discrimination - ability to focus on important auditory information amid background noise - listening to directions in a noisy environment
  • Auditory Memory - ability to recall information heard in the short term or long term - important for remembering names, and following directions.
  • Auditory Sequencing - ability to understand and remember the order of words - remembering lists or sequences like phone numbers or addresses.
There are several different types of "auditory training" available for treating auditory processing disorders. There are some software packages that can be used even at home (earobics is one I've heard of but haven't tested so consult with your professional for advice.) Speech therapy and environmental modifications (removing background noise, sitting near the teacher, etc.) will also be helpful.

For more basic information start here NIH
For an (adult) personal perspective Andrea's Buzzing About
More information on the different auditory processes from NCLD


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