What is Auditory Processing?

Auditory Processing is a term used to describe your brain’s ability to interpret and make sense of speech sounds, both quickly and efficiently enough to understand spoken language. Individuals are able listen to effectively when energy that we recognize as sound, travels through the ear and is changed into information that can be interpreted by the brain.

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?

An auditory processing disorder is a neurologically based disorder. It is marked by an individual’s inability to distinguish between distinct speech sounds, or consonants, impeding the interpretation of information. The speed of processing may also be reduced. They may actually miss words because their capacity to process what is being said instantaneously is impaired. This is due to weak connections in the auditory cortex of the brain – the location of neural circuits that support language. Individuals with this kind of disorder cannot distinguish between similar short words, like “da” and “ba”.

Likewise, consonants that race by in less than a millisecond, like “k” and “s” are difficult to distinguish in everyday speech. As a result an individual with an auditory processing disorder misses words in conversation and instruction. They may mishear or misinterpret what was said.

For example, a child’s mother may say to him, “I’m going to take you swimming after you complete all of your homework.” His mother never takes him swimming because his homework is incomplete. The child is convinced that his mother has lied to him. This is worsened in situations with significant background noise, such as classrooms and work environments. Additionally, a person who cannot distinguish sounds orally may also have difficulty connecting them to their written representation when reading or writing.

Consider this question; “Who was the first president of the United States?” An individual without processing difficulties will process the question correctly and provide the appropriate answer, George Washington. Alternatively, a person with a processing disorder will simply process the words. A child with an auditory processing disorder, in a classroom setting, may misinterpret the sounds, words, and/ or the meaning of the same question. As a result, they miss crucial information that follows. They may still be thinking about the meaning of the question when the rest of the class has moved on to something else.

An auditory processing disorder can injure a child’s self esteem. It may seem to parents or teachers that a child with an auditory processing disorder is ignoring them or intentionally not paying attention. In reality, these patients cannot really help it. Their self-esteem, obviously, will be affected when they are criticized for “not listening”. It is a statistical fact that 75% of a child’s day in school is spent listening.

Auditory Processing Symptoms Checklist

Prior to treatment at the Drake Institute, many of our patients suffered from some of the following symptoms. If these symptoms seem to fit your family member, then there is a high likelihood that we can help. Fill out our online contact form, and a qualified profession will contact you to determine if we can help.

  • Needing to reread information, (e.g. at the end of a page having to go back to the top and read it again because the information was not retained)
  • Poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Tendency to talk in circles or rambling on and on with difficulty getting to the point (difficulty organizing your thoughts and thinking of certain words to express yourself easily)
  • Difficulty with written language (e.g. poor paragraph organization, unable to write a story or essay that is clear and sequential with an appropriate amount of detail; cannot easily write thoughts or answers into meaningful sentences and paragraphs)
  • Difficulty following verbal directions
  • Poor academic performance
  • Difficulty with reading aloud (speech may be halted, and words may be skipped or misread)
  • Difficulty with word problems in math
  • Struggling to learn to identify colors, inability to learn letter names
  • Oral expression is disorganized - spontaneous speech is characterized by fill in words (“thing”, “ya know”, “stuff”, “like”)
  • Difficulty giving directions
  • Medical history of middle ear problems in early childhood
  • Academic difficulty in the third grade

Who can benefit?

The programs have proven helpful for individuals who are experiencing difficulties with the following:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading and spelling
  • Understanding concepts (i.e. colors, letter names, etc.) and following or giving directions
  • Decoding words
  • Age appropriate general language ability
  • Remembering questions when called upon in class
  • Ambiguous language or idioms
  • Phonics, reading or spelling
  • English as a second language

Program Synergy

At the Institute we pay special attention to how the various different therapies coordinate together, not just full care but at the right time. Treatments for learning disorders can become significantly more potent when applied when the patient’s Attentional system is at a certain stage, and not before. In fact without this all important ingredient treatment effects that require a certain neurological base won’t hold on at all or never develop fully. It is for this reason that care provided by outside sources must be made aware of the timing and characteristics of Drake care. The Program Coordinator is invaluable in assisting you with the timing of each form of therapy and how they work best together.

If you or a family member need help, please fill out our confidential online form and Auditory & Language Disorders checklist. The Institute will contact you promptly to arrange a free telephone screening consultation with a member of our clinical staff to determine if we can help you.