What is Auditory Processing Disorder?
Children do not naturally grow out of auditory processing difficulties. But our brains have the amazing capacity to change (neuroplasticity), children can ‘grow out’ of anything – with the right stimulation and training.
What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?
APD is different to hearing
Listening and language learning are affected
Auditory processing difficulties can affect the ability to follow instructions
Phonological problems can arise from difficulties in listening accuracy
Rapid naming issues are often associated with auditory processing
Auditory processing issues are sometimes called central auditory processing disorder and can impact reading fluency
An auditory processing disorder is not a problem with hearing, so we start with a negative definition. The child hears adequately but the brain isn't making use of the auditory information effectively.
So what happens is - if anyone out there who's listening to this is has ever learned a foreign language, the first thing that happens to you as you have trouble "hearing" perceiving some of the sounds and that's what happens with an auditory processing disorder a child has trouble perceiving some of the sounds of the language so a "b" may sound like a "d" and a "d" may sound like a "g" or the child might be able to hear those differences in a very quiet room but the second it's noisy the child's auditory system becomes overwhelmed and they can't discern what someone's saying very clearly and the way we can tell if a child has an auditory processing disorder when they're young even before we can test adequately for it is they tend to say "huh?" or "what" a lot.
So mum or dad might say
"Billy run upstairs and get you coat and close the window, it looks
like it's going to rain" and the child will go "huh?" and it's not that they didn't hear again - it's that they couldn't process it quickly enough or they couldn't hold all the information in mind or it wasn't quite clear enough so it takes them longer to be able to handle information coming in and it's also harder for them, it's more difficult.
Now what it turns out we've learned from this is that in the beginning what that may affect in some children more vulnerable to language problems is that it affects their ability to learn the language.
So, they're slower to learn to talk or they make speech sound production errors because they're confusing one sound with another sound. but when they go to learn to read in any language that is what we call an alphabetic language where each of the letters represents sounds, the children have a devil of a time learning which sounds go with which letters.
And there's a whole host of new research on that by one researcher whose name is Betts another researcher whose name is Teri Bellis another researcher whose name is Nina Kraus and their all starting to converge on being able to demonstrate the children with auditory processing disorders it's difficulty not hearing, but with but with handling the sounds from the language that causes all sorts of difficulties learning to read, specifically problems with holding information you hear in your mind and then also interestingly the new research showing the children have trouble with even naming quickly and easily is difficult and that translates into problems with reading fluency English.