If you’re the parent of a child who has auditory processing issues, you know what a struggle it is to get through the day. It’s hard to understand why your child isn’t learning as quickly as other kids, but there are lots of reasons for this. Understanding how auditory processing works and what kinds of problems can occur will help you make sure that your child gets the help she or he needs at school.
They can’t follow directions:
The most common auditory processing issues are difficulty following directions and difficulty understanding what is being said. These problems can be frustrating for children, who may feel like they’re not being heard or understood. They may also have trouble hearing the difference between similar sounds—for example, “fast” vs “fat”—or remembering what was just said.
One common example of this issue is called selective attention deficit disorder (ADD). People with ADD have trouble focusing in certain situations that require them to ignore distractions, such as a noisy classroom setting or when there’s more than one person talking at once (known as “selective attention”).
They have trouble with background noise:
Kids with auditory processing issues have trouble filtering out background noise. If there are many kids talking in the classroom, or if you’re watching TV with a lot of background noise (like when your brother is playing his video games), it might be hard for these children to hear what you say.
Sometimes they may not be able to hear the teacher because there is too much going on around them in class. Teachers should try to avoid making loud noises around these kids, such as slamming desk tops and clapping hands together.
They may also need to wear headphones or earplugs at home so that they can hear other people talk over the noise coming from your TV or computer speakers, etc.
They have trouble with reading comprehension:
They have trouble comprehending what they hear, read, and say. A person with this issue may be able to pronounce words correctly but have trouble understanding what they say. In other words, they might not understand the meaning of what’s being said to them. For example: “What did you just say?” Or: “I’m sorry I didn’t catch that.”
They can’t tell when sounds are similar or different
In order to understand how someone might have a difficulty with auditory processing, consider this example:
- They can’t tell when sounds are similar or different.
If you were asked to listen not just to the tone of your voice but also the rhythm of it—the low pitches, high pitches, long pauses between words and short ones—and then repeat what you hear back in exactly that way, would you get it right? If so, great! But chances are that even if you could do it with your own voice (or maybe even your dog’s), if I played some sound recordings for you and told you they were all made by the same person talking at different speeds or from different places around a room or from different microphones beside their mouth… well… probably not so well anymore.
Auditory processing issues affect both hearing ability and interpretation; people who have these issues often struggle with speaking clearly too.
They have trouble with rhyming words.
Rhyming is a complex auditory process that requires the ability to hear two sounds at once, and then match them. It’s a higher-level skill that must be learned, and not everyone is good at it.
For example, if you say “night,” most people will think of “light” or “might.” Some may even think of “fight.” But very few would ever say anything other than one rhyming word (e.g., no one would respond with just one syllable).
Auditory processing issues can make school tough, but they aren’t the same as a hearing problem.
If your child has auditory processing issues, this is not a hearing problem. Auditory processing issues are neurological in nature, so they can make school tough for kids who have them. It’s important for parents to know that there are different types of auditory processing issues and that they can be diagnosed by an audiologist.
Some examples of the different types of auditory processing issues include:
- Auditory Discrimination
- Auditory Working Memory
- Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
If you think your child may be struggling with auditory processing issues, you should have them tested. The results of this test will help determine whether or not your child needs a referral for speech therapy.