What is Auditory Processing?
Auditory processing is more than being able to hear. It's the abilities of the person AFTER the ear has picked up the sound. This includes following verbal lessons, remembering a sequence of instructions, ignoring the classroom noise and focusing on the teacher's voice. Even skills as basic as hearing the difference between speech sounds (phonemes) requires auditory processing. Without it we can't perform ANY of our auditory functions. It is the basis for language, which in turn is the basis for reading. After all, reading is an auditory skill. Yes your eyes see the letters but those are then translated into sounds in the auditory and language parts of the brain to become sounds that fit together to make words. We can even predict with impressive accuracy, using auditory processing measures on a 3-day old infant whether the child will be a strong or poor reader or even have dyslexia! Auditory processing is difficult to identify by classroom behaviour as there are many facets of auditory processing and depending on what part is underdeveloped, it will yield a different set of symptoms. Also there are often multiple areas affected and then again you will see different behaviours.
Suspect a student has APD?
It is difficult to identify by observation if a child has an auditory processing disorder. Some have been identified as having an auditory processing disorder however they are strong performers in school. We take the more practical view that if a child is performing well and is coping with the work load then why spend time deciding if there are underlying areas that may be underdeveloped? We would therefore recommend that any child that is underperforming in your classroom be screened by our FREE AUDITORY PROCESSING SCREENING that we call "Feather Squadron"and can be found on the app store for use with an iPad! If you find a significant difficulty, then please refer the child to either an audiologist or a speech-language pathologist.
What can I do in the classroom to help those with APD?
Unfortunately, with different areas of the auditory system that are underdeveloped, the problems are different. For example, with certain types of APD, we don't recommend having the child look at a visual aid while listening to a verbally presented lesson, yet with other types this would be very helpful.
For all types of children with APD, there are some helpful strategies:
- Avoiding excess noise in the classroom
- Placing the child in a less distractable position where they typically have a better chance of hearing you.
- Having parents pre-teach information such as the spelling word list or read to them the next days reading exercise.
- Often a buddy system where a model student and the child with APD do certain activities together, particularly when shifting from one lesson to another where instructions are given to move locations or get preparation materials.
Should I measure auditory processing?
We recommend ONLY those that have been extensively trained in assessments related to developmental abilities (intelligence, attention, language, speech, phonemic awareness, cognition, etc,) use our auditory processing tools. Auditory processing IS NOT a standalone disorder and children often have multiple areas that should be addressed, therefore we would recommend you refer the student you are concerned about to your local Audiologist, Speech-Language Pathologist, Educational Psychologist, or the School Diagnostician inquiring about the use of 'Feather Squadron' as part of their other test battery to be as thorough and complete as possible.