Auditory Processing and Hearing, What’s the Difference?



Get Your Free APD Paper

Auditory Processing is basically the role the brain plays in the hearing process which ultimately enables us to develop learning skills. Essentially, it is our brain and not our ears that hear. The ears play the part of sending raw information on for further analysis where, all being well, it is eventually deciphered by the hearing centres in our brain. How well the raw information is interpreted by the brain depends on our level of Auditory Processing skills which are primarily developed during the critical periods of language learning, between the ages of 0 to 3 years. This is the period when the brain is most prepared to map information from sounds or spoken words onto its language centres. People with APD (sometimes referred to as central auditory processing delay CAPD) have difficulty understanding instructions and sustaining attention, particularly in the classroom environment where there is frequently competing background noise. The sounds of peers whispering or talking, air-conditioners or traffic, as well as lawnmowers or children playing outside, are just some of the common classroom distractions that make learning very difficult for these children. They need to expend far too much mental energy and cognitive resources trying to sort through the various sources of auditory information that their brains are receiving, such that they cannot learn or perform to their full educational potential. The reason why they experience difficulties processing information is because the sounds of the English language have not been sufficiently imprinted on the language centres of their brain. While there may be different causes for this, often children have experienced multiple middle-ear infections (including “Glue Ear”) during the period of critical language development of zero to four years old, whether or not these ear infections were recognised at the time. Fast ForWord dyslexia aspergers autism cognitive skillsDespite the prevalence of APD, its symptoms are still frequently misinterpreted as signs of ADHD or ADD, a hearing deficit, general learning difficulties, or even depression. It is frustrating for the student, parents, and teachers to see a seemingly bright child struggle academically, without understanding why. As a result, they frequently slip through the educational cracks, where schools have neither the knowledge of how to address the child’s needs, nor the resources. Furthermore they usually don’t qualify for special educational assistance. It is important to understand that if your child does have a processing deficit, it is unlikely they will outgrow these problems without appropriate intervention. The difficulty lies in choosing the best way to assist your child’s learning, given that there are so many options available. Most of the parents I meet have tried various programmes and tutoring, with limited success. This may be because the intervention is not addressing the underlying processing deficit. It is as though the builders are trying to stabilise the roof before the walls are completely built. Equally it is essential to establish fundamental oral language skills before learning to read and write.

Get Your Free APD Paper