They may have an Auditory Processing Disorder.
Teachers are pivotal in understanding the signs of Auditory Processing Disorders in children, as the classroom is where the issue is often first noticed.If the signs of an APD aren’t identified and managed, many students with the condition will face longer-term learning challenges. Therefore, early intervention is key.
Auditory Processing Disorders affect around 3-5% of school-age children. While these children are often thought to sense sound normally because they may hear sounds that are delivered one at a time in a very quiet environment, they usually have difficulty analysing, remembering and making sense of the information they hear. As such, they do not have a hearing problem, but rather their brains have trouble making sense of what is said to them. For example, in noisier environments like a classroom or playground, they may have trouble recognising slight differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud enough to be heard.
For example, they may hear the word “seventy” instead of “seventeen.”
Kids may have a hard time following the teacher’s instructions while other kids are talking in the background.
Kids with Auditory Processing Disorder may have a hard time remembering song lyrics that other kids remember easily.
These can range from mild to severe and can take many different forms. If you think a student might be having trouble processing sounds, ask yourself the following:
Diagnosing an Auditory Processing Disorder can be difficult because it can look like other conditions – and often happens alongside other conditions – like language and reading difficulties and attention disorders.
According to the American National Institutes of Health, in children referred for learning difficulties, around 43% have an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).
Unlike other more common hearing problems, Auditory Processing Disorders can occur infrequently. Children can have no problems processing different sounds one day, and the next day, they may struggle to make sense of the sounds that surround them.
If you suspect a child has an Auditory Processing Disorder, encourage their parents to take them to an Audiologist for a professional opinion. An Audiologist will use various auditory processing function tests to make a clinical diagnosis.
If an Auditory Processing Disorder is diagnosed, there are a small number of clinically proven programs available for children that remediate the condition, if isolated early. Sound Storm is one of them. Studies have shown that 100% of children aged 6-12 years with Spatial Processing Disorder (a specific type of Auditory Processing Disorder) that complete the Sound Storm program, are cured of the disorder.
A student with an Auditory Processing Disorder may feel embarrassed to tell you that they did not understand what you said or the directions you gave. To help these students, encourage them to write down any assignments and help them to stay organised. This may ease their frustration and boost their self-esteem in the classroom. It can also help to speak at a slightly slower rate with a clear voice. Louder does not always help.
It can be difficult for parents/guardians to hear and accept that their child may have a learning disorder, as there is a stigma attached to it. When discussing the issue, be delicate and aim to use words with more positive connotations. For example, you might say that you suspect their child has an Auditory Processing ‘Deficit’ or ‘Issue’ rather than an ‘Auditory Processing Disorder’. The word ‘Deficit’ implies less permanence and seriousness than ‘Disorder’. The word ‘Issue’ is more vague and suggests it’s something that needs to be investigated further. Since Auditory Processing Disorders can be remediated, you can describe it as a ‘hopeful diagnosis’. Once identified and diagnosed by an audiologist, there is something that can be done about it.
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