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What is Auditory Processing?

What is Auditory Processing?

The term “auditory processing” has experienced an increase in attention over the past several years, as awareness has been raised for the diagnosis of auditory processing disorder (APD). With the rise in awareness for this disorder, it is important to fully understand the components of auditory processing to avoid confusion and misdiagnosis.

Auditory Processing refers to how the central nervous system uses auditory information. WhenWhat is Auditory Processing? processing auditory information there are several steps that take place. First, the listener needs to remember and organize the information that was presented to them. Once that information has been retained, the listener must discriminate between the received signals – listening for the differences in the speech. This step will help the listener determine what speech-sounds were produced and with what intonation/prosody (i.e., discriminating a question from a statement). The auditory information is then sequenced and conceptualized (i.e., meaning is applied to what was heard). Lastly, the auditory signal that has been processed is synthesized to receive the “main idea” of what was said.

The Components of Auditory Processing:

The components of auditory processing are intricate and complex. It is clear that if one skill set is weak, that will ultimately affect that person’s ability to correctly understand spoken information. It is important to recognize that an auditory processing disorder (APD) is not a result of a higher cognitive or language disorder, but is an auditory deficit. There are other disorders that can also affect a person’s ability to accurately understand auditory information. For example, a child with ADHD will have difficulty accurately following and understanding verbal information – however this is due to an attentional deficit, rather than his or her ability to process information. Likewise, a child with autism spectrum disorder will also have difficulty comprehending spoken language, however, again this is due to a high-order language deficit. It is possible for APD to co-exist with another disorder, however, careful diagnosis by a certified audiologist is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

See below for a list of behaviors that are common for children to exhibit who experience difficulties with auditory processing.

Red Flags for Children with APD:

  • Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments.
  • Inability to consistently and accurately follow directions.
  • Difficulty discriminating similar-sounding speech sounds (i.e., /b/ versus /p/).
  • Frequently asking for repetition or clarification.
  • Poor performance with spelling or understanding information verbally presented.
  • Child typically performs better on tasks that don’t rely on listening.


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Resource: Bellis, Teri James. Understanding Auditory Processing Disorders in Children. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org.

 

We are Going on a Treasure Hunt!

As I mentioned in my previous blog, sequencing and memory activities are important for people of all ages. These skills help to keep our minds sharp and active and allow us remember old skills as well as learn new patterns and routines. A “treasure hunt” is a fun way to work on these two skills, all wrapped into one child-friendly activity!

How To Create A Treasure Hunt For Your Family!

Parents help son with handwriting

Materials: construction paper, markers, equipment needed within treasure hunt (e.g. ball; scissors etc)

Directions:

  • First, talk out loud together with your child about how many steps you are going to include in your treasure hunt.
  • Next, determine what these steps are going to be (e.g. dribble a tennis ball 10 times, cut out a circle, copy a block design, balance on one leg etc).
  • Make sure that you include age appropriate tasks that your child needs to be working on.
  • Some of these tasks should be ones that are easier and your child can be more successful with, and some should be more challenging to help work on a novel skill and/or skills your child has a harder time with.
  • After you have verbally determined what will be in the treasure hunt, have your child repeat these steps back to you, first verbally, and then by copying the steps onto construction paper in a treasure map format (e.g. working towards the “X” which signifies the ‘treasure’ and the end of the treasure hunt). Lastly, help your child to implement the treasure hunt by having him tell you which step he will be completing first (e.g. first I will ______, and then I will ______).
  • If your child is having a hard time recalling which step comes next, have him refer to his treasure map to visually study the steps again, and then have him state the steps out loud again to help the information stick in his mind. Feel free to do this as often as needed throughout the activity.
  • Your child will show progress in his memory and sequencing skills by requiring less and less visual and/or verbal cues for the sequence of activities. Provide a small reward of your choosing for the “treasure” that your child will enjoy after he has completed the hunt!

Skills addressed in a Treasure Hunt:

  • Fine motor (to draw/write out the treasure map)
  • Auditory processing and memory (to listen to and repeat back the steps of the treasure hunt)
  • Sequencing (to complete the treasure hunt in the correct order)
  • Following directions
  • Attention (staying on task throughout the activity)

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Swimming- A Fun and Beneficial Sport

Swimming is a great sport and pastime, particularly for children with sensory processing difficulties, as the waterBoy in swimming pool provides a multi-sensory experience for the body. Swimming also addresses a variety of skills, ultimately improving your child’s sensory processing, strength, endurance and coordination.

Proprioceptive/tactile processing: The feel of water on the body gives proprioceptive input, the input to the muscle and the joints, and gives a sense of where the body is in relation to other body parts. The constant sense of the water against the skin provides deep proprioceptive input and helps with developing body awareness.

Vestibular processing: Somersaults under water or headstands at the bottom of the pool provide vestibular input, as the body is responding to the changes in head position and assisting with balance to complete these tasks.

Auditory processing: The pool environment typically provides a loud and vibrant auditory experience, as children’s laughter and happy shrieks are heard while they play in the pool.

Strength: Moving the body against water when swimming is a workout for the muscles! The water provides natural resistance for muscles, which in the long run, builds up overall body strength.

Endurance: Not only does the resistance of the water against the body make the body stronger, it also assists with endurance. As the muscles become stronger, they will be able to endure swimming and other activities for longer periods of time.

Coordination: Swimming strokes are very complex. The brain must take in all of the sensory information from the environment and act quickly to move the arms, legs, torso and head in a coordinated fashion to produce the movement.

So many children find swimming exciting and fun, and love spending summer days at the pool. Parents can also appreciate spending time at the pool knowing that this activity is not only fun, but also good for their child!

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Auditory Processing and Language Processing: What’s the Difference?

Understanding Language Processing

Boy in Speech Therapy

Language comprehension…language processing…auditory processing… what does it all mean? The various terminology used to describe a child’s difficulty with listening can be overwhelming to say the least. A first encounter with these terms might feel perplexing as parents search for the best possible help to meet their child’s needs.

A recent surge in public awareness of auditory processing disorders has led to many misconceptions about what this disorder really is (and what it is not). The term “auditory processing disorder” is frequently applied loosely, and often incorrectly, to any individuals having trouble with listening and processing spoken language. However, there are several possible underlying causes for listening difficulty. Read more