Auditory Processing Disorder

A lot of the children we work with have a difficulty recognizing the subtle differences between sounds, even those that are relatively clear for anyone else.

When doing a regular hearing test, a child or adult with an Auditory Processing Disorder may have a normal hearing ability, yet they do not recognize and interpret sounds as clearly and quickly as others might. The problem gets worse when there is a lot of background noise.

The effect will be a delayed or distorted perception. Sounds may sometimes be perceived as coming from a different direction. Sometimes they may even hear sounds that are not there at all.

Generally auditory processing issues go together with developmental delays in other areas. Kids or adults with Auditory Processing Disorder often have trouble paying attention or remembering information correctly, especially when they are expected to follow instructions or directions with multiple steps.

There is often an overlap with ADD/ADHD and autism-based behavioral problems. It is therefore important to be quite careful with diagnoses, and especially with medication.

It is isolating, especially for children, not to be able to fully grasp what is going around oneself, and to get in trouble for ‘not listening’.

Depending on a person’s temperament and environment, they may come across as withdrawn, or simply shy. In such cases it may take quite a while before these underlying issues are detected. ‘Troublemakers’, those who are defiant and disruptive, are the ones who will get noticed quite a lot earlier. Unfortunately for them, though, they will often already be labeled negatively, and carry the burden of thinking they are ‘stupid’ or ‘weird’.

Brain scans show that the neurons that process sound take about a 30 milliseconds break before firing again. For 80 percent of language-impaired children this break is at least 3 times that long, which means that they lose a lot of information, since the signals aren’t clear enough for them. Often, they cannot hear the beginning of a syllable, or they ‘mishear’ the sound change within a syllable.