I am continually astounded when I hear from many speech/language therapists and reading specialists that they know little to nothing about auditory processing. How can that be when auditory processing is the very foundation of language and reading?
Skills like speaking, reading, and other academic skills are like the branches and leaves of a tree. They are the most obvious, noticeable part. But a tree will not survive without a good root system and trunk to carry the nutrients.
Learning of any kind also needs a “root system” and truck. The information coming in through the senses has to be perceived, processed, and organized correctly in order to use it for learning. In the case of both language and reading, the root system or foundation is auditory processing.
It’s Hard to Get the Message When
You Have A Bad Connection
Perhaps the best way to understand the ramifications of an auditory processing problem is to think about what it is like to be in an important conversation with a bad cell phone connection. You find yourself having to listen extremely hard, and any extra noise around you becomes irritating and hard to block out.
Because the signal is not clear, you miss part of what the speaker is saying and you find yourself saying, “What did you say?” and struggling to fill-in the gaps.
You’re not exactly sure what the speaker said, but you don’t want to sound stupid or uninterested, so you make what you think is an appropriate response. Oops! That backfired. Now you have to explain about the bad connection and why you misinterpreted what they said and made an “off-the-wall” response.
You don’t quite understand the speaker, yet when you have a clear connection, you have no problem with comprehension.
It’s taking so much energy to keep up with this conversation, that you find your attention drifting. You’re feeling distracted and frustrated, and important or not, you just want to get off the phone!
Luckily for cell phone users, the way to a better connection is to hang-up and try again.
But for students with auditory processing challenges, this is life. Poor or inconsistent auditory input can affect, among other things:
- Following directions
- Articulation and pronunciation
- Conversation and social skills
- Intonation and verbal expression
- Sense of well-being.
Children and adults with auditory processing challenges may find listening exhausting and simply cannot keep it up for long. As a result they may look unmotivated or like they have attention deficit. They may feel lost and anxious.
Reading and spelling have a direct correlation to phonological awareness – the auditory processing skill that allows the person to think about the number, order, and identity of sounds inside of words and the sound groupings that make up common patterns in the language.
When students are struggling to speak clearly and accurately, use appropriate intonation, express themselves verbally, read, spell, or comprehend, the first place to explore is the auditory processing.
Remediation of specific speech, language, and reading skills is important, but if the underlying processing/learning skills that are causing the problem are not being addressed as well, the student will most likely never become as efficient and comfortable a learner as he could be.
Brain and clinical research and our experience with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges over the last 30 years proves that auditory processing can be developed. Students do not have to continue to struggle with speech, language, reading, and learning problems.
The key is addressing the underlying learning/processing skills so that the brain gets the information that it needs to think with. Then, remediation of reading, spelling, speech, language or other academic areas will be effective and lasting.
Does your child struggle with reading, attention, or learning? These challenges can be changed. While there are no simple, overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through targeted brain training and academic remediation. For more information:
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“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author: At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers
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