By Marianne Umphlett

Many families ask me about auditory processing disorders, noting that “listening” and “understanding” seem to be problems at home and at school. Here’s some of the most recent information on this subject.

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a broad term that includes Central Auditory Processing Disorder and Aphasia Deafness. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) recognizes APD as a “listening disorder.” With a proactive approach involving both schools and parents focused on helping APD children compensate, learn and retrain their brains, these students can be highly successful academically.

Children with APD may have difficulty with:

  • Listening, particularly for a period of time
  • Hearing or discriminating words
  • Following directions or oral messages
  • Organizing verbal materials
  • Avoiding distractions and background noises
  • Expressing themselves orally or in writing
  • Remembering what they hear
  • Learning to read and spell

Speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists work with auditory processing disorders because they are integrally related to vestibular (balance), cognitive, language, auditory and sensory system functioning.

Educational Inclusion

Most children with auditory processing problems can be educated in a regular school setting with the following accommodations.

  • Inclusion of a teacher who values children and expresses a willingness to work with a student who has disabilities
  • Personnel support for understanding how to communicate with and teach a child with APD
  • Removal of classroom distractions and sources of reverberation (such as activity in a gymnasium)
  • Close proximity of the child to the teacher or speaker
  • Classroom aids such as portable or personal FM systems (with earplugs or headphones) to raise the teacher’s voice
  • Use of visual and gestural cues to help the child follow instruction
  • Integration of speech-language and occupational therapy to overcome APD problems

Source: “Working with Children with Auditory Processing Disorders; Understanding and Providing Individualized Interventions through Effective Management, Accommodation & Treatment”: a presentation by Dr. Jay R. Rucker, EdD, CCC-A/SLP, FAAA