Unlocking the Power of Sound Storm

A grouping of all the main characters in the Sound Storm game.

Remedying Spatial Processing Disorder

Imagine a world where every child can easily grasp the nuances of speech in a bustling classroom, where they can effortlessly focus on their teacher's voice while background noise fades into the background. For many children with Spatial Processing Disorder (SPD), this scenario seems unattainable. SPD, a specific form of Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), can hinder a child's ability to learn, leading to frustration and struggles in the classroom. However, there is hope in the form of Sound Storm, a remediation application designed for school-aged children.

In this article, we will delve into the world of SPD, exploring its impact on children's ability to learn and the role that Sound Storm plays in remediating this deficit. As parents, teachers, and audiologists, understanding SPD and its remedies can help children thrive academically and socially.

Understanding Spatial Processing Disorder (SPD)

What is Spatial Processing Disorder?

Spatial Processing Disorder, often abbreviated as SPD, is a specific type of Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). CAPD encompasses a range of auditory processing difficulties that affect the brain's ability to interpret and make sense of sounds. SPD specifically impairs a child's capacity to use binaural (both ear) cues, which are essential for selectively attending to sounds arriving from one direction while suppressing sounds from other directions. (Litovsky, 2005; Best et al., 2012; Misurelli and Litovsky, 2015)

In simpler terms, children with SPD struggle to separate a person's voice from background noise, resulting in a confusing mix of sounds that can be overwhelming. For example, if a child is in a noisy classroom, they can hear multiple sound sources coming from different directions. To successfully segregate and differentiate them, they should be able to use 'spatial cues' that will improve their “speech in noise skill” in those situations.

How Does SPD Affect Children's Ability to Learn in the Classroom?

SPD can impact a child's academic journey. The classroom is a dynamic environment filled with various auditory distractions, such as classmates chatting, pencils scribbling, and the hum of classroom equipment, even the noise from an air conditioning unit. For children with SPD, this cacophony of noises can make it nearly impossible to focus on the teacher's instructions or engage in meaningful classroom discussions.

The inability to filter out irrelevant sounds and pinpoint essential information can lead to several challenges, including:

Difficulty in Following Instructions: Children with SPD may struggle to understand and follow complex instructions given by their teachers when other noises are present, hindering their ability to absorb verbal information. Literacy and hearing go hand in hand. So, if children struggle to hear, they'll struggle to gain the phonemic awareness needed for reading.

Social and Emotional Implications: SPD can impact a child's self-esteem and social interactions. They may feel isolated or misunderstood by their peers, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Also, the amount of concentration in attempting to process the jumble of sounds can cause fatigue that can impact their wellbeing and social interactions.

Introducing Sound Storm: Remediating SPD with Technology

What is Sound Storm?

Sound Storm is a deficit-specific remediation application that has evolved from the LiSN & Learn program. It is specially designed to target Spatial Processing Disorder (SPD) in school-aged children, aged 5 to 12 years old. This innovative app is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and is easily downloadable onto a tablet or iPad. It is designed to be used with headphones to provide an immersive and engaging learning experience.

How Does Sound Storm Remediate SPD?

Sound Storm's success in remediating SPD lies in its unique approach to training the brain's auditory processing capabilities. The intent of this remediation is to assist in the “remapping” of the brain so that the user will ultimately be able to effectively use pitch and spatial cues to attend to one sound source whilst being able to “block out” competing noise.

Sound Storm remediation app focuses on:

  1. Selective Sound Attention: The app helps children learn to selectively attend to sounds arriving from one direction while suppressing competing noise, just as they would need to do in a classroom setting.
  2. Enhancing  Signal-to-Noise Ratio: By progressively adjusting the difficulty level, Sound Storm helps children improve their signal-to-noise ratio, enabling them to understand speech more clearly in challenging auditory environments.
  3. Utilizing Pitch and Spatial Cues: Sound Storm teaches children to effectively use pitch and spatial cues to distinguish between sounds, enhancing their ability to focus on a single sound source while filtering out distractions.

After completing the Sound Storm program and re-test LiSN-S evaluation with their audiologist, that showed significant comparison scores, a parent shared:

"We were very impressed! His teacher this year states he is able to follow instructions when given and is following along when she is talking, even if the class is noisy."

Empowering Children to Thrive

Spatial Processing Disorder (SPD) can be a formidable barrier to a child's learning and overall well-being. However, Sound Storm offers hope for parents, teachers, and audiologists. Through its innovative approach to remediation, Sound Storm retrains the brain to selectively hear sounds in noisy environments. This empowers children with the skills they need to succeed academically and thrive in social and emotional contexts.