Auditory Processing Disorders

Auditory processing is the ability to interpret or attach meaning to aurally-received information. Oftentimes an auditory processing disorder is given when describing a child who exhibits difficulty in responding to directions and is distracted by auditory signals or is not paying attention. While auditory processing often is the term used to encompass the entire continuum of difficulties in responding to auditory information, further differentiation of the disorder is often described as a central auditory processing or auditory processing/language processing disorder.

A central auditory processing disorder (CAP) involves an auditory stimulus that becomes distorted or compromised before the brain has received it. Characteristics of central auditory processing disorders can include difficulty with sound localization, difficulty following directions, short attention span, short and long-term auditory memory difficulty, and auditory discrimination difficulties in the presence of background noise. Difficulties with auditory perception are directly related to early difficulties with phonemic awareness and early reading abilities.

Language processing disorders describe the inability to attach increasingly complex layers of meaning to an auditory stimulus. Children with language processing difficulties (auditory processing) may have difficulties with word retrieval, response latency (with frequent "I don't know" responses); they may display inconsistencies in learning, verbal repetition, or rehearsal.

Tne aspect of processing on which there is little disagreement is the impact the deficit has on learning. Auditory processing problems can affect learning, spelling and reading fluency, decoding, and reading comprehension.

The focus of treatment can vary depending on the characteristics of the processing disorder. For children who have been diagnosed as having a central auditory processing disorder (CAP) disorder by specific audiological testing, therapy may work on auditory and listening skills such as discrimination, sound localization, sound sequencing, or sound targeting targeting. For children who have been diagnosed with language processing difficulties or auditory processing (not CAP), the emphasis of therapy is on functional language and strategies to facilitate the processing of language. Recommendations may also include modification and accommodation in the school environment and curriculum to facilitate processing.

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