Treating Auditory Processing Disorders is a Team Effort
Children who utter “Huh?” “What?” or appear to tune out are often regarded as having behavioral issues when in fact, it could be auditory processing disorder (APD). It’s through a concentrated effort on the part of many therapies that APD can be treated.
The concern with treating APD is making sure it’s diagnosed correctly. APD overlaps or accompanies other disorders including ADHD, language disorders, and dyslexia. There are several indicators that suggest APD may be present and should be considered as they often are used in the diagnosis of other disorders:
- Struggles distinguishing subtle changes in word sounds.
- Problems identifying what direction a sound comes from.
- Difficult to block out background noises or hear in noisy surroundings.
- Mix up and mispronounce words.
- Slow thought processing.
- Difficulty with verbal instructions.
- Difficulty with social communication concerning jokes, metaphors, and sarcasm.
- Decreased speech perception.
Nearly all students with APD pass a standard hearing test, making APD difficult to diagnose.
Assembling an APD Dream Team
Once APD has been ruled to be the root of a student’s problem or in conjunction with other disorders such as ADHD, creating the proper treatment team is imperative to bring about change academically and socially.
Your team may be made up of other specialists including occupational therapists and audiologists. Teaming up with an audiologist will allow you to work together to target and improve speech impairments, sound encoding, and language development. Occupational therapy can help target sensory processing problems and may work closely with the audiologist as well.
The entire team will also collaborate with the student’s teacher and a possibly a reading specialist to make the necessary accommodations, if any for classroom success. Teachers especially may need to make modifications for the student such as adding sound barriers to the classroom to absorb the additional background noise or using a microphone system when addressing the class.
Parents’ participation in the success of treating APD will also be crucial. At-home adjustments may be necessary as well. Request parents carry on conversations with the student in the same room and to speak slowly as well as ask the student to repeat back what was said. All of these things can help speech and social communication skills.
Treating More than APD
Remember that treating APD may go hand in hand with other speech-language difficulties. Because of the brain’s inability to hear sounds correctly, the student may also deal with delayed language skills. If you’re already working with the child to tackle other speech-language problems, you will likely notice an overlap in the types of work you do with the student.
Studies have shown that early diagnosis of APD is important not only for school success but lifelong success as well, often affecting social relationships, work environments, and achievements throughout life. While APD can be treated at any time, experts agree that earlier intervention is better.