All parents wonder at times if their child is really understanding or listening to what they’re saying, but what if you’re worried your child may actually be struggling to comprehend conversations or instructions? About 5% of school-aged children have an auditory processing disorder, or APD, which affects the connection between their ears and their brain. Children may get confused in the classroom, upset in loud environments, or fail to follow instructions when they have this condition.
What’s the Difference Between an APD and Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss, hearing impairments, and APD can appear to have very similar symptoms, but they have entirely different causes. With hearing loss or a hearing impairment, someone may struggle to hear different sounds or quieter volumes. Hearing loss can also worsen over time if there’s any damage to the cochlea in the inner ear.
APD, on the other hand, isn’t a hearing impairment at all. Those with an auditory processing disorder can hear perfectly fine, but the information gets disorganized somewhere in their brain. Children can have trouble discerning what people are saying to them, or understanding and analyzing different sounds.
Signs and Symptoms of APD
Most parents begin to notice signs of APD when their child is in grade school because their symptoms may become more apparent in the classroom. APD can range in severity, but a common problem is having difficulty listening to one person talking in a loud, noisy environment. Your child may also:
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child has APD
If your child seems to have an auditory processing disorder, make an appointment with an audiologist. Only an audiologist can accurately diagnose your child, but keep in mind that most diagnostic tests require children to be at least 7-8 years old. If you’re wondering what exactly an audiologist will be testing for, here are the five main “problem areas” they will check:
Ways You Can Help
If your child is diagnosed with APD, there are several ways you can help them succeed both at home and in the classroom. First, your child’s doctor or audiologist may refer you to a speech-language pathologist to help your child improve their reading and listening comprehension skills. A speech therapist can also offer you and your child different resources or let you know about in-school supports, such as assistive listening devices. Other ways you can help your child at school include:
At home, you can significantly lessen your child’s frustration or confusion to make both of your lives easier. Along with helping your child study and stay organized, here are a few more tips to ease their symptoms of APD:
For more information, visit us at Oakville Wellness Center.