Auditory Processing Disorder

The difference between hearing, listening and auditory processing

It’s common to have to call our child not once, twice, but twenty times before they respond. Especially if they’re in the middle of their favourite video game. This is typical to a certain extent, but how do we know when there’s a problem?

To start to understand what auditory processing disorder (APD) is, it’s essential to understand the basics: the difference between hearing and listening.

Hearing occurs when a child’s ear collects the sound (sound waves) from the air, and it travels into your brain.

Listening occurs when a child attends or focuses on what they are hearing.

Auditory processing occurs when they process, modulate, filter and respond appropriately to what they are listening to. It’s “what we do with what we hear”. Processing information is the most complex part of the whole processing and is most effortful.

A child can have perfect hearing – they can hear a pin drop. However, at the same time, they may have challenges processing what they hear (auditory processing).

If this is the case, it can effect a child’s ability to learn, socialise, grow, and explore. There are other things that affect a child’s ability to process auditory information. The child also needs to have a good short term or ‘working’ memory, and an ability to focus and attend.

How do I know if my child has Auditory Processing Disorder?

Some of the following checklist items are common amongst children with Auditory Processing Disorder:

  • Does not pay attention/has trouble focusing more than half the time
  • Appears to day dream and be in his own little world
  • Struggles to focus and listen to auditory stimulus for more than a few seconds
  • Says “what?”, “huh?” or “pardon?” several times per day
  • Forgets what is said quickly
  • Learns better one-on-one
  • Easily distracted by background noise
  • Frequently misunderstands what is said
  • Has a history of ear infections
  • Lacks motivation to learn or has poor self esteem as a learner

How can Auditory Processing Disorder be treated?

  • Repeat instructions, provide visual materials, check for understanding
  • Change the environment: Sit the child at the front of the class, install a sound amplification system, or reduce the amount of background noise when you are speaking.
  • Directly train auditory processing skills. Compensating and changing the environment will make things a little easier but they will not fix the auditory processing problem. The brain must be re-trained to process sound correctly and quickly. Contact an occupational therapist, speech pathologist or audiologist for more information about this.

How can I find out more?

KinderCloud provides online therapy services via skype, saving you time and money. Contact KinderCloud’s occupational therapist department today on 0409 279 728 or email for more information about APD and your child.

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Aimee York

Aimee is a paediatric occupational therapist, who is passionate about working with children and their families to support successful development. She often is caught telling people she has the best job in the world.Aimee works regularly with children with emotional regulation and behavioural challenges, as well as Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. However, she likes to emphasise that children do not need a 'diagnosis' in order to require a bit of support, help and education to get them back on track.Aimee is the owner and principal occupational therapist at KinderCloud Online Allied Health for Children .

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