Does your kid often misunderstand you when there is background noise? Does he always reply with “what?” or “huh”? It might not be hearing difficulty but auditory processing disorder. APD isn’t well known as ADHD but it is becoming increasingly common. About 7% of school age children have some type of auditory processing difficulty. Children with APD can hear normally when in a quiet environment, they don’t have difficulty in hearing as it shows in test. But their brain perceives sound incorrectly that’s why they have difficulty making sense of the sounds they hear. Kids might get frustrated; imagine not being able to understand what people are saying.
How can we tell if our child has APD? Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder can take many different forms and range from mild to severe.
• Frequently ask you to repeat what you’ve said
• Appears to be listening but not hearing
• Has a difficulty understanding words in noisy environment
• Has trouble following directions
• Difficulty following conversations
• Confuses two similar sounding sounds
• Sensitive to loud noise
• Find it hard to follow directions in a series
• Late speech development
• Has difficulty following rapid speech
• Speaks in monotone
• Has trouble learning to read and spell
These are common behaviours that can indicate auditory processing problem with your child. Some of the behaviours also appear in children with learning disorders like ADHD. Because some of these symptoms overlap with other disorders it is important to have your kid properly diagnosed with an audiologist. Your child should be at least 7 years old before undergoing testing.
APD can be treated from childhood through adolescence and even later, but experts agree that the earlier the diagnosis the better the treatment will be. Treatment includes a variety of exercises that target auditory deficits. Therapy can range from computer-assisted software programs, Tomatis Method to one-on-one training with a speech and language therapist.
Taking care of children with APD is not an easy task. We get irritated when we are asked to repeat something too often. It’s important to understand that auditory processing disorder is real and it’s more stressful for your child to understand what is being said. This difficulty causes frustration, anxiety and emotional overload. To better understand what it feels like to have APD. Try a simulation and experience firsthand what it feels like to have an auditory processing problem. Click on the link to try, this is an educational video giving you a glimpse of the APD world. It will let you feel how frustrating it is to just even have a conversation let alone live with APD 24/7.
There are many resources on the internet about auditory processing disorder. Read a first-person account of what it feels like to have an APD and learn how people with APD were able to manage the disorder and live normal life.
There are many ways we can help our kids with APD succeed in school. Be sure to tell teachers about your kids APD and how it may affect his school performance. Discuss about different instructional strategies to the teachers. And ask for classroom accommodations like changing seating plans so that your kid can sit in the front of the classroom or closing windows and door to reduce noise to make learning a little easier. Accommodation can be formalized in a 504 plan that would outline any special needs for the classroom. Ask for study aids like notes, computer-assisted programs or other reading interventions that can be viewed online.
Monitor your child’s performance by regularly keeping in contact with school officials about your child’s progress. It is important for both parents and teachers to acknowledge that APD is real and symptoms are not something the child can control. Recognise the problems associated with APD and use different strategies at home and in school to help your child live a normal life.
Join auditory processing community or other e-mail support group to get ideas and support from fellow parents.