We all get distracted, overwhelmed, overstimulated and tired, which affects our ability to pay attention and respond, but for someone with auditory processing deficits, these experiences are constant. There are helpful tools and strategies; and even ways to retrain the brain so that life and learning become much easier.
We know kids can have selective hearing! If your child has normal hearing but is having trouble with reading, following directions, says “huh” or “what” all of the time, and misunderstands what you are saying, or what is going on, then an auditory processing deficit could be the culprit.
These are symptoms of Central Auditory Processing Deficit, or CAPD. What happens with CAPD is that the brain has trouble processing, interpreting, organizing and using auditory information. Here is a complete list of signs and symptoms of CAPD according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association.
Figuring It Out
CAPD can be noticed at any time in life. Depending upon the level or severity of the processing deficit that exists, it may be noticeable in preschool or not until someone is an adult. Oftentimes there are sound sensitivities. The overwhelming stimuli from background noise and multiple inputs of noise often cause agitation and distraction for one diagnosed with CAPD. The person may be fidgety when having to listen attentively, “space out”, fatigue easily and seek escape into tasks that don’t require active listening. Words may be mispronounced and reading may be impacted.
First, get a hearing test to rule out hearing loss. Next, you will need to see an audiologist (typically after age 7 when kids can understand directions) to identify if CAPD is present. You will need to distinguish between Attention Deficit Disorder (hyperactive or inattentive type) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878
in order to make a clear diagnosis of CAPD.
What To Do At School?
In the school setting a psycho-educational evaluation can be administered to determine if there is a disorder according to educational standards, and if so, what accommodations and/or modifications can be put in place to support your child’s access to the curriculum and learning needs. If your child is eligible to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), there are many strategies that can be put into place and used by the school team to support your child:
Improve Classroom Acoustics–use of carpet, drapes and furniture to help absorb sound that creates background noise and reverberation.
Support Improved Attention–use preferential seating, sitting in the front of the class or closest to the teacher during instruction, sit away from windows and doors and check for understanding verbally. Also helpful is a slight tap on the arm, shoulder or back to help redirect the child back to the task.
Helpful Communication Strategies–teachers and staff can repeat, rephrase, establish eye contact and allow time for responding.
Use Visual Aids–provide written instructions and visual cues paired with auditory information.
Build In Breaks–CAPD requires more time and effort to process information so fatigue occurs more easily.
Amplification–the teacher/speaker can wear a microphone while the listener wears a headset to focus the message for increased understanding of auditory information.
What To Do At Home?
In addition to using the strategies above, here are some helpful tips to use at home:
Make sure that you have your child’s attention and have face to face contact before starting to speak.
Use apps and play games that support active listening, auditory memory and sequencing skills.
Some apps include: Auditory Memory Ride, Auditory Workout, and School of Multi-Step Directions.
Games such as Simon Says, Telephone and naming outside noises or what they hear in any given place, clapping syllables to words, sorting similar sounds (s/z, k/g, t/d, m/n/ng, p/b).
Comprehension Checks: recall what happened each day, read a story together and talk use WH questions on each page (Who, What, When, Where, Why), name what was bought at the store or what errands were done, listen to music and talk about the lyrics, or make up and talk about poems.
Academic: review and preview lessons, vocabulary and reinforce basic concepts, choose books at their reading level and discuss the story or information. Practice phonological skills, along with reading, writing and speaking opportunities using high interest or school material, and discuss what they are learning and/or current events in the world.
Create Routines: provide daily structure and predictability as much as possible. Organize the back pack and binders each night, develop a system of checking in with teachers, create a schedule for school and home, and use checklists when appropriate and helpful.
Computer Based Training
Many neuropsychologists, educational therapists, audiologists and speech therapists recommend using computer based training. Computer based training programs are designed to work with our brain’s plasticity to help rewire the brain’s processing speed and skills. These programs help with attention, memory, sequencing and processing; working with phonological skills, sustained attention, reading and listening comprehension, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary development.
Let Us Help You!
At Vibe, we are experts in working with auditory processing deficits and the computer based training program of Fast ForWord. We are licensed Fast ForWord providers and can build a therapy program that is unique to your child, accelerating their learning and growth. We use a wide variety of techniques to help your child improve their processing speed, attention, memory, and sequencing, which they can then generalize into every part of their life. We provide language, reading and social language skill development to ensure we are treating comprehensively and holistically. We want your child to feel confident about their language and reading skills so that school and peer relationships are a positive and successful experience.