Students who have an auditory processing disorder are often left behind in the classroom even though they are very smart. Like many learning differences, APD is not something you can tell is there. Most of the time, children with APD have no trouble hearing—it’s what happens to the sounds once they enter the brain that causes the problems.
APD can be similar to having an attention deficit disorder. Some kids with attention deficits pay attention to everything around them equally without being able to determine what is important. Likewise, some students with APD cannot determine which sounds are the ones they are supposed to listen to. The background sounds seem just as important to them as the teacher’s voice.
Other students with APD cannot discriminate between similar sounding words or sounds. The sound the letter “b” makes is exactly like the sound of a “d.” APD can also show up as poor auditory memory. These students cannot recall things they hear; they need to see it, too. Others with APD change the sequence of sounds they hear. If they hear the number 25, it becomes 52 once it enters the brain.
Regardless of the type of auditory processing disorder, the strategies that help are similar.
- Seat the student near the teacher
- Speak more slowly, and use simple sentences
- Eliminate unnecessary sounds in the room
- Provide copies of notes or assistive technology like the Livescribe Pen or AudioNote
- Provide visual cues and written instructions, pictures, or diagrams to go along with auditory information
If these strategies do not help your child, it is time to enlist the help of an audiologist who specializes in auditory processing disorders. It is important for teachers to understand that students can be very bright but not succeeding in school. When given the needed accommodations, they are able to learn and demonstrate their abilities.