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Auditory Processing Disorders

   

 

Auditory Processing Disorders

 

Parents from all over the country and around the world call our toll free number to discuss concerns about their child's reading, spelling and/or writing skills. We also talk to hundreds of parents every year at home school conferences.  Parents often start out by telling us that their child has an "auditory processing disorder."

What is an auditory processing disorder (APD) and how might it be related to school problems with reading, spelling and writing or to troubles with attention and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

In the simplest terms, APD (formerly referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorder or CAPD) is a listening difficulty that cannot be attributed to something else (e.g., hearing loss, ADHD or language impaired).  As David Moore (2011) has described, teachers, clinicians and parents have a "huge.... appetite" for information about "listening difficulties."

Unfortunately, there is very little agreement among professionals (e.g., audiologists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, educators)  about what APD is and how it should be treated. Recent evidence suggests that most listening problems in children may be primarily due to problems with attention, processing speed and/or working memory (Moore, 2011). 

Although there is little agreement among professionals about what ADP is or how to treat it, there is very clear guidance from research to suggest that basing therapy on ‘processing deficits” and “perceptual skills” with no attention to specific academic skills does not improve outcomes. Fletcher, et al. (2007) summarize this research as follows:  “Gains are specific to what is taught.” 

This means that if the child's main difficulty is with reading and spelling, then treatment should be tightly focused on reading and spelling, whereas if the child's main difficulty is with listening, following spoken directions, making inferences etc., then treatment should be tightly focused on listening (language) comprehension.

Auditory integration therapy (music, modified speech and/or controlled speech with or without multi-modal stimuli) has not been shown to be efficacious despite several decades of research. The following professional organizations have position statements cautioning consumers that these "listening therapies" are not proven and may delay therapy that is efficacious.

  • American Academy of Audiology (1993)
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1994)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (1998)
  • Educational Audiology Association (1997)

A comprehensive (although technical) review of auditory integration therapies can be found here:   Auditory Integration Training - Working Group in AIT

A Wikipedia article, Auditory Integration Therapy, reviews similar information but is shorter and less technical.

Auditory Integration Training Working Group in AIT

 

REFERENCES

  • American Academy of Audiology. (1993). Position statement: Auditory integration training. Audiology Today, 5(4), 21.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. (1998). Auditory integration training and facilitated communication for autism. Pediatrics, 102(2), 431–433.
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1994, November). Auditory integration training. Asha, 36(10), 55–58.  See more at: http://www.asha.org/docs/html/TR2004-00260.html#sthash.9Tc6MDPP.dpuf
  • American Academy of Audiology. (1993). Position statement: Auditory integration training. Audiology Today, 5(4), 21.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. (1998). Auditory integration training and facilitated communication for autism. Pediatrics, 102(2), 431–433.
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1994, November). Auditory integration training. Asha, 36(10), 55–58.
  • Educational Audiology Association. (1997). Auditory integration training: Educational Audiology Association position statement. Educational Audiology Newsletter, 14(3), 16.
  • Fey, M.E., et al. (2011). Auditory Processing Disorder and Auditory/Language Interventions: An Evidence-Based Systematic Review. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools Vol.42 246-264.
  • Fletcher, J.M., Lyon, G. R., Fuchs, L.S., Barnes, M.A. (2007). Learning Disabilities: From Identification to Intervention. New York: The Guilford Press.
  • Moore, D.R. (2011). The diagnosis and management of auditory processing disorder. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Vol.42, 303-308.

 

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