Auditory Processing Disorder

Treatment for Auditory Processing Disorder

The inability to differentiate sounds, or phonological awareness, is the root of the dyslexic’s struggle to use the sound-symbol system (phonics) in reading and spelling. Difficulty with rhyming words is a common indicator. While some students simply lack phonological and phonemic awareness, others have an auditory processing disorder that affects more than dealing with the sound of language and phonics. Treatment for auditory processing disorder is not easy. 

An auditory processing disorder is not the same as a hearing problem. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association states, “Auditory processing disorder refers to how the central nervous system uses auditory information.”

Auditory processing disorder has symptoms that overlap many other challenges, and can be properly diagnosed only by an audiologist. In auditory processing disorders, any physical impairment to the auditory “hardware” has been ruled out, but the brain still has trouble processing the “signal.” So while the individual’s actual hearing is just fine, their brain has trouble making sense of the incoming auditory information.

At Wings to Soar Online Academy, we offer the Fast ForWord intensive intervention that can be part of your treatment for auditory processing disorder. We typically recommend this more intensive package for those with auditory processing concerns who are also significantly behind in reading and also have concerns in one or more of the cognitive skills of memory, attention, processing speed, and sequencing.

An audiologist’s diagnosis of central auditory processing disorder (also known as auditory processing disorder or auditory processing deficit) may include impairment in one or more of the following listening tasks:

  • Sound localization and lateralization: the ability to locate the source of a sound and from which side of the body it came. This is important for safety; for example, locating where the sound of a car is coming from and where a barking dog is.
  • Auditory discrimination: the ability to distinguish one sound from another. Phonemic awareness – the ability to notice, compare, and distinguish separate sounds in words – is a skill vital to reading. Kids with auditory processing disorder struggle to understand how different sounds work together to form words. For example, distinguishing between seventy and seventeen, and free and three, is difficult.
  • Auditory pattern recognition: the ability to distinguish similarities and differences in the patterns of sounds.
  • Temporal aspects of audition: the ability to:
    • sequence sounds (understand and recall the order of sounds and words)
    • integrate a sequence of sounds into words or other meaningful combinations
    • perceive sounds as separate when they quickly follow one another
  • Auditory performance decreases with competing acoustic signals: difficulty perceiving speech and other sounds when others are speaking or another noise is present.
  • Auditory figure-ground discrimination: the ability to pick out important sounds from a noisy background. Kids with auditory-processing challenges are overwhelmed by situations in everyday life because they can’t filter out the background noise. Paying attention is incredibly difficult. They become overwhelmed and tune out or shut down as a coping mechanism.
  • Auditory performance with degraded acoustic signals: difficulty perceiving “a signal in which some of the information is missing.”
  • Auditory memory: short-term and long-term abilities to recall information presented orally.

    Children with auditory processing disorder can have difficulty with:

  • Understanding spoken directions and instruction
  • Many aspects of oral communication, including expressing emotions, answering questions, and discussing ideas
  • Spelling, reading, and written expression

    Treatment for auditory processing disorder usually involves a three-pronged approach:

  • Change the environment. Help the student take in the sound better by speaking more slowly, offering assistive listening devices, moving them closer to the teacher or away from distracting background noises, or minimizing other noise so they can focus attention on the important message.
  • Strengthen other higher-order cognitive skills to compensate, such as language, problem-solving, memory, and attention skill. The student should take responsibility for their listening success through active listening and problem-solving. This will also aid with oral communication including expressing emotions, answering questions, and discussing ideas.  
  • Remediation of the auditory deficit can involve computer programs and/or in-person therapy sessions. It needs to target the specific auditory challenges the individual faces. At Wings to Soar we offer Fast ForWord, an online program with good results as at least a partial treatment for auditory processing disorder.

Auditory Processing Disorder Intervention Strategy

We’ve provided this set of Phonological and Phonemic Awareness Assessment and Exercises as an informal assessment and a starting point for intervention. If your student has significant difficulty with the exercises after working on them together for a few weeks, you may wish to seek further assessment from an audiologist to rule out auditory processing disorder or to get recommendations to begin treatment for auditory processing disorder if the student has other symptoms related to auditory processing disorder beyond sound phonological awareness.

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At Wings to Soar Online Academy, we work with you to create a customized package that includes the programs that are just right for your unique situation. If you have curriculum that is already working for a particular learning area, we respect that and don’t want you to feel you need to enroll in more than you need with us. We want to come alongside you to help you fill in the gaps of what isn’t working. Please explore the following menu of possible online programs that we offer at Wings to Soar that we could include in your child’s Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan.

If you haven’t already requested your free Just-Right Level™ Assessments, get started there. We’ll email you a personalized set of recommendations of possible programs that might be a good fit for your child’s specific learning concern profile based on the results.

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