What is Auditory Processing?

Processing is the combined effort by the brain to convert sensory (hearing, seeing, feeling) information into meaningful understanding. Auditory processing is converting the sounds that we hear in speech (letter sounds, tone, volume) into meaningful words. It is one of ingredients to building the foundation from which the ability to understand language and to use it to respond. Auditory processing deficits commonly impact listening, spoken language comprehension and learning. Most people with auditory processing problems have normal intelligence and normal hearing sensitivity.
“What the brain does with what the ear hears.”

Skills of Auditory Processing

Auditory processing is more than just asking, "Can you hear me now?" Once it is determined that a child has normal hearing, there are several different auditory skills that must also function normally in order to be able to understand what is heard. There are four primary Auditory Processing Skills:
  • 1. Auditory Figure Ground (Listening in Noise and/or background noise). Children with this deficit will seem confused in situations with background noise or misunderstand what is said.
  • 2. Auditory Closure (Understanding distorted, accented, rapid speech or speech with missing parts).
  • 3. Dichotic Listening (Listening effectively with both ears; Binaural Integration and Separation) . Children with this deficit have difficulty multi-tasking, may have significant reading and spelling skills, and may feel confused by all of the details that they heard.
  • 4. Temporal Patterning (Understanding tone and timing differences in speech; determines meaning). An inability to interpret tone of voice will result in a child hearing a question as a statement or a statement as angry.

Secondary skills important to Auditory Processing include:

  • 1. Phonemic Synthesis (Ability to blend sounds to make words; Auditory/Linguistic Skill) A child must be able to hear the difference between speech sounds, such as /d/ and /t/ in order to spell the word or understand the meaning of a sentence; for example, was the word /bad/ or /bat/.
  • 2. Auditory Memory (Short term rote memorization skills) . This skill is necessary to be able to recall information recently heard and to follow multiple step directions. Reading comprehension is also affected if there is a deficit in this area.

Do you think your child will benefit from an APD evaluation?

Dr. Steed can diagnose APD and work with you to create a treatment plan for your child.