June 20, 2014
Did you know that speech-language pathologists can help children with auditory processing disorders (APD)?
While they can’t diagnose the disorder (only a licensed audiologist can do that), they can help improve a child’s hearing skills.
Children with APD can hear. They just have difficulty processing spoken language and filtering out background noise.
The causes of APD are unknown, but children may be at risk if they had a complicated, traumatic or premature birth; isolation or neglect soon after birth; or a history of chronic ear infections.
To help improve a child’s hearing skills, a speech therapist may work on the following areas:
- Auditory attention – The ability to become aware of a sound and focus on it.
- Auditory discrimination – The ability to hear the difference between similar but different sounds.
- Auditory memory – The ability to remember and use the name of an object or concept.
- Auditory figure-ground – The ability to prioritize important sounds while ignoring unimportant sounds in the environment.
- Auditory cohesion – The ability to understand advanced language concepts like double meanings, idioms, humor and other figurative language.
Parents and caregivers can also help to improve hearing skills.
When you’re home with your child, it’s important to interact with him in a quiet environment and speak simply and plainly. Avoid figurative language like similes, metaphors, sarcasm or abstract ideas/concepts.
To ensure he understands instructions you give him, give them one at a time and ask him to repeat the instruction back to you. Or you can ask, “What are you going to do now?” after you give the instruction.
Additional tips include:
- Suggest positive listening strategies to the child (sit closer to the teacher, turn off the TV).
- Make listening skill building frequent and fun.
- Use games and activities that pair sounds and language with visuals.
- Pause after giving instructions to allow the child time to process the information and answer you.
- Teach the child new vocabulary and concepts (category naming, similarities and differences, etc.).
- Use rhythm and rhymes to build listening skills.
- Read books to your child daily.
These simple strategies can have a positive impact on your child’s ability to speak and communicate.
If you think your child may have APD, contact an audiologist for an official diagnosis. And for more information about speech therapy for your child with APD, contact your local Epic office or therapy clinic.
Linda Larson, SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
College Station, Texas
Source: Heymann, L.K. (2010). The sound of hope: recognizing, coping with, and treating your child’s auditory processing disorder. New York, NY: Ballantine.