Some children may have problems understanding certain sounds and spoken words. They could have completely normal hearing but miss the sounds and details that make up words, especially if they’re in a noisy, distracting environment. Children with auditory processing difficulties will likely experience these issues, and it can interfere with their social and learning skills. Continue reading to find out more about auditory processing difficulties.

Symptoms of auditory processing disorder (APD)

Fortunately, there are plenty of signs and symptoms that can alert you to your child potentially struggling with auditory processing. Here are some behaviours that your child may be exhibiting:

  • Has trouble following directions
  • Doesn’t pick up nursery rhymes or song lyrics
  • Appears to listen well but not hear
  • Has trouble remembering details
  • Often mistakes two similar-sounding words
  • Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments
  • Can’t follow a conversation
  • Finds it hard to express themself
  • Trouble learning to read and spell
  • Asks people to repeat what they’ve said

Some of these behaviours can have other causes, like ADHD or a different language learning disorder, so it’s important to get the correct diagnosis to determine the next steps. There are tests for children with auditory processing difficulties, though.

Tests for auditory processing disorder

If you or your child’s teacher notices some of these behaviours occurring numerous times, there are tests that can be done to diagnose them. Tests for APD are not usually done on children under seven, but the tests include:

  • Asking the child to listen to speech with background noise
  • Spot small changes in sounds
  • Fill in missing parts of words
  • Electrodes on their head to measure how the brain reacts to sound
  • Speech and language tests
  • Problem solving, memory and concentration tests

How you can help a child with APD?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for APD. However, there are known treatments that have been proven to help children with auditory processing difficulties. A child’s auditory system isn’t fully developed until around the age of 14 too, so there’s every chance that improvements can be made.

The steps you can take to make life easier for a child with APD are as follows:

  • Talk face to face with the child so they can watch your mouth move and pay closer attention to the words you’re speaking.
  • Use a combination of pictures and text to make it easier for the child to understand what it is they’re reading.
  • Repeat or rephrase things if necessary so that the child can fully understand what is being said.
  • Use carpet and soft furnishings to reduce room noise. This is so you can reduce any background noise that may be distracting the child.

The following are things you should avoid when dealing with a child struggling with APD:

  • Do not cover your mouth when talking because they can’t see what you’re saying.
  • Don’t talk in long complicated sentences. Keep things short and simple, making it easier for the child to understand and listen.
  • Do not speak too fast or too slow.
  • Do not have background noise, like a television or music. This can greatly impact their struggles and make it even more difficult to understand or hear what’s going on around them.

Specialised support at Seashell

Seashell is dedicated to providing a creative, happy, and safe environment for children and young people with complex learning disabilities and additional communication needs.

Here at Seashell, we offer a holistic approach with Seashell Royal School Manchester, Seashell Royal College Manchester, and  17 home-from-home care houses providing a safe, supported environment and high-quality sports, health, and wellbeing facilities.

Seashell focuses on the extended family that cares for each one of our students and residents. We understand the difference that can be made to all those connected lives. That is why we strive to include the whole family and the wider community in the life experience of our children and young people.

If you require any further information on who we are, or you would like some advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Seashell.