Life with an Auditory Processing Disorder Sounds Different

This is a big week for my family.  My son is getting married on Saturday and we couldn’t be more delighted!0

As I was thinking about the upcoming reception, I remembered the mom of one of our students trying to describe to me what she thought it must be like for her son.  She said, “Have you ever been to a wedding and you’re staring right at someone, but hearing all the conversations around you and not hearing what the person you’re talking to is saying?  I think that’s what my son experiences all the time.”

A friend once told me that her adult son with auditory processing problems said that  listening was so taking for him, that after a one-hour meeting at work, he was “done” for the day.  He was so exhausted that he would literally have to lie down on the floor of his office and take a nap.

09Last week, a mom walked into the Learning Center looking for help for her 5 year old son who had very limited language and couldn’t understand much of what was said to him unless it was paired with visual signs and gestures.  Her little boy was smart, engaging, and did not have hearing loss.  He had been assessed twice for autism and found not to have it.  She described how he sometimes sang songs that he heard on his videos but he would leave sounds out of words every time he sang them.  I strongly suspect that this child has an auditory processing disorder and we referred him to an audiologist who tests for auditory processing disorder.  (reference below)

Karen Foli, author and mother of a child with a severe auditory processing disorder, described it as “listening to sound through water.”

I think the best way for those of us with intact auditory systems to get our minds around what it might be like to have an auditory processing problem is to think about a bad cell phone connection.  There’s nothing wrong with your ears, but the signal or the input you’re getting is not clear and complete.  You get some of the information, but there are gaps so your mind is racing to try to connect the dots.

You press the phone hard to your ear, trying so hard to listen, but pretty soon, you’ve lost the thread of the conversation, your attention is drifting, and you’re feeling irritable and frustrated.  And you say, “You’re cutting out.  Let me call you back.”

But what if this was your life all day everyday, and there’s no “hanging up and calling back?”  Children and adults with auditory processing disorder or even auditory processing inefficiencies often end up being labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder/ADHD.  They experience a great deal of overwhelm and anxiety.   It may affect their comprehension, learning, and social skills.  They feel lost, all because their auditory system is not providing them with clear, complete, and accurate information to think with.

But here’s the GOOD NEWS!  The auditory system is dynamic.  It can be retrained to process a full range of sound frequencies, to tune-in to important information, and tune-out the background noise.  It can be stimulated to organize and decode the information coming in through the ears.  It can get a more accurate and complete message.  And with a better message comes better responses and learning.

Need to know more?  JOIN US for a FREE Parent/Adult Information Night at Stowell Learning Center in Chino or Irvine, CA.

Go to for details and RSVP.


Helpful Resources:

At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities by Jill Stowell

Like Sound Through Water by Karen Foli 

When the Brain Can’t Hear by Teri Bellis


Excellent Audiologist who specializes in Auditory Processing Disorder (C)APD:

Balance & Hearing Specialty Group
Dr. Pam Best
161 Thunder Drive, Suite 104
Vista, CA  92083

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