What Is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Roughly two in every 1,000 children have auditory processing disorder (APD). APD can impact how a child speaks, reads, and writes, and it can affect their self-esteem.

But your child can thrive in the classroom with APD. The key is that you inform yourself about the disorder and what you can do to help your child.

What is auditory processing disorder in children like? How do problems with auditory processing present themselves? How can your child receive help in the classroom and at home?

Answer these questions and you can help your child get a complete education today. Here is your quick guide.

The Basics of Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a disorder that affects how a person's brain understands speech. A child may not have any hearing problems. But their ears and brain may not coordinate with each other, causing learning differences.

APD can occur independently or alongside other conditions. Some children with APD have hearing loss in addition to a processing disorder. Some children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or other neurodevelopmental conditions have APD.

Some children who have developed APD have experienced a head injury or chronic ear infections. APD may also run through families or have genetic components. But there is no clear cause for most cases of APD.

Auditory Processing Skills

APD can affect a few different auditory processing skills. Auditory discrimination is the ability to tell the differences between sounds.

A child may find it hard to distinguish between words that rhyme or start with the same sound. They may also find it hard to notice pitch and intonation cues. When someone asks a question and pitches their voice up at the end, a child may not hear it and think they are making a statement instead.

Auditory figure-ground discrimination relates to sounds in a noisy setting. A child may find it hard to hear their teacher in a loud room.

A child may find it difficult to remember what their teacher said as well. If they hear their teacher's voice behind them, they may not turn around because they don't know where the voice is coming from.

Auditory sequencing relates to the order of sounds. A child may scramble syllables in long words or recite words incorrectly. They may understand what the words mean, but they just can't pronounce them properly.

Diagnosing APD

APD can take a few years to notice. A child's auditory system may continue developing until they are a teenager. It is okay for your child to have difficulty with hearing things in a noisy setting every now and again.

Consider if your child often mishears distinct sounds. You should also think about if your child has trouble with word problems, conversations, or verbal directions. If your child can read and write okay but has difficulty with phonics, they may have APD.

Keep in mind that children with conditions like speech-language delays can have symptoms similar to APD. You should take your child to a speech-language therapist or an audiologist to get a full evaluation.

A doctor can run a few tests to assess your child's skills. They may ask them to listen to speech with background noises and answer questions about what they heard. They may read words aloud and ask your child to spot differences in the sounds.

To determine if your child has other learning differences, a doctor may conduct speech, memory, and concentration tests. These tests can take a couple of hours to administer.

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Classroom Accommodations

Most children with APD do not receive individualized education programs. However, your child can receive accommodations, especially if they have a pre-diagnosed learning difference.

Each child with APD needs their own accommodations. If a child has trouble understanding their teacher, they can wear an earpiece that connects to a microphone that their teacher uses. Their teacher can give them instructions with simple and clear words so they don't become confused.

Your child can also sit in front of the room so they can hear easily. The teacher can use visual aids like cue cards to help them learn difficult or unfamiliar words.

Home Accommodations

You can help your child at home through a few basic steps. When you speak to your child, do not put your hand in front of your face or muffle your words. If your child seems confused, you should repeat what you said using fewer words.

Ask your child to look at you while you speak. Facial expressions and the movement of your lips can help your child understand what you are saying. Go slower, but don't speak louder, as this can distract your child.

Try to create a quiet space for your child to learn in. You can put soundproofing materials on the walls to muffle street noises.

When you are giving your child instructions, leave written notes with them and maintain daily routines. Your child should do their laundry or brush their teeth at the same time every day. This can help with autism spectrum disorder as well as APD.

The Basics of Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder affects how a child pronounces the sounds in words. Your child may not be able to distinguish between words, or they may swap syllables around.

The signs of APD take a few years to surface. They include being unable to follow conversations and remember verbal instructions.

A speech-language therapist can test your child for APD and related conditions. In the classroom, your child can listen to their teacher with an earpiece or the teacher can use an FM system to enhance speech.

Find a school that knows how to teach children with APD. The Eagle Hill School helps Connecticut and New York children. Request more information today.

Topics: Learning Differences, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)