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When a child has an auditory processing disorder, he has difficulty processing the information he takes in through his auditory (hearing) system. In other words, children who have auditory processing disorders have difficulty making sense of what they hear.
A child who has an auditory processing disorder may demonstrate a number of behaviors. Many of these behaviors are also seen in other disorders, such as ADD, ADHD, and PDD. For that reason, it is very important to note that, upon observing any of the following signs in a child, we cannot just assume a child has an auditory processing disorder. Instead, if the following behaviors are observed in your little one, careful testing will need to be completed to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. That being said, a child with an auditory processing disorder…
The diagnosis of an auditory processing disorder is made by an audiologist with specialized knowledge of auditory processing. Although an auditory processing disorder can be suspected at younger ages, children are most easily diagnosed after the age of seven. To make the diagnosis, an audiologist will first make sure that the child does not have a hearing loss. Then, the audiologist will have a child participate in a variety of tasks that require him to listen to sounds, words, and sentences and respond in different ways. A child’s performance on these tasks can help an audiologist determine if a child has a true auditory processing disorder. The audiologist might also use some tests that can determine just how the child’s brain responds to auditory information.
Other professionals may play a role in diagnosis as well. Speech-language therapists can administer language testing to carefully assess a child’s use and understanding of language and psychologists may be involved to rule out disorders such as autism, cognitive delays, ADHD, or ADD.
There are many strategies available to help children with auditory processing disorders. Most importantly, it is essential to get an accurate diagnosis so that you can access services for your child. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists can work with children with auditory processing disorders in a variety of different ways. Some specialists may work with children to help them learn to hear sounds more accurately and follow directions of increasing length in increasingly distracted environments. Others may use specially developed and acoustically modified computer programs such as FastForWord to retrain a child’s brain to process sound more accurately.
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Dr. Nancy L. Datino