Is your child:
Your child may say ‘what did you say’ a lot. It may seem like he or she didn’t hear you. Your child may have unexplained reading challenges.
When asked to repeat words that sound slightly different, he may pronounce them the same. For example, he may read ‘where’ instead of ‘were’ or ‘mack’ for ‘make’ or ‘bleed’ for ‘bled’ or ‘shock’ for ‘shop’ or ‘sack’ for ‘snack’.
Although many of these mistakes are common for early readers, children with problems hearing these sounds may continue to make errors while their peers ‘grow out of it’.
They may struggle to see the difference between two similar words. Their spelling is likely to be affected. It is very difficult to spell words correctly when the sounds were not correctly deciphered in the first place.
Children who listen but do not hear you, may have problems with auditory processing. ‘Auditory Processing’ refers to the brain’s ability to hear and understand information that comes in through the ears. Known expert in intelligence, Dawn Flanagan, describes it thusly,
“Auditory processing (Ga) refers to the ability to perceive, analyze, and synthesize a variety of auditory information (e.g., sounds) – auditory processing include listening to words with missing letters and saying the correct word (e.g., hearing “olipop” and saying “lollipop”) – listening to piano music and identifying the key in which the piece is being played (e.g., C sharp)” .
Auditory processing is not the same as basic hearing. Hearing is a combination of both what the ears do and what the brain does. Auditory processing is referring to the part that the brain does.
Auditory Processing has been identified as a key factor in intelligence, as established by the trusted CHC Theory of Intelligence .
Within this model, Auditory Processing includes the following skills: listening and verbal comprehension, temporal tracking, auditory cognitive relationships, discriminating sound patterns, auditory span memory, perception of distorted speech, and maintaining and judging rhythm .
In a child with poor auditory processing, the child’s brain is not correctly discriminating sounds. The progression of auditory processing complexity is as follows:
Reading Problems: Generally, problems with auditory processing impact learning. This ability to discern the difference between similar phonemes is necessary for reading, and reading is necessary for most other subjects.
Following Directions: Auditory processing may impact a child’s ability to follow oral directions. For example, if the teacher says, ‘put a line through the yellow circle before you cross out the blue square’, your child may get confused.
Distractibility: Some children with auditory processing problems may be distractible. They may have a hard time filtering out background noise. In this case, their performance on tasks may suffer in a noisy environment, but they may demonstrate adequate skills when there are no distractions.
Although many children with auditory processing problems may appear distractible and inattentive, it is important to differentiate these challenges from attention and behavior problems.
Attention: Children with attention problems are more likely to be distracted in various environments, whether the environments are noisy or not. Of course, we all work better in a quieter setting.
However, children with true attention problems have persistent, pervasive problems with attention in multiple settings and environments.
Behavior: It is critical that parents are aware that problems with auditory processing do not explain or excuse poor behavior at school or at home. Although it may be frustrating to have some problems with auditory processing or sensory sensitivities, many children with these challenges are able to be compliant, social, and well adjusted.
If there are problems with defiance, aggression, and rule-breaking, auditory processing and other sensory needs do not provide the explanation. For more on behavior conditions, see the Behaving page.
If your child is struggling with auditory processing, a variety of professionals can be consulted.
First, have your child’s hearing checked.
Second, talk to the school about formal or diagnostic reading tests
Third, talk to the school about formal speech / language tests.
If there are additional concerns, talk to a school psychologist or licensed psychologist about testing.
If your child is struggling with a similar problem, not directly addressed in this section, see the list below for links to information about other related symptom areas.
Children who have significant problems in this area may have any of the following potential disabilities. *Note, this information does not serve as a diagnosis in any way. See the ‘Where to Go for Help’ section for professionals who can diagnose or provide a referral.
If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his learning, relationships, or happiness, the following professionals could help; they may offer diagnosis, treatment, or both.
Professionals may recommend the following types of tests for this symptom:
 Dawn P. Flanagan, Ph.D. (Nov 5, 2014). Cross-Battery Assessment: A Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses Approach to SLD Identification St. John’s University, New York Yale Child Study Center, School of Medicine.
 Sattler, Jerome (2014). Foundations of behavioral, social, and clinical assessment of children. p.140.
 For information on the Auditory Working Memory index and the cognitive processes involved in reading and math: Gloria Maccow, Ph.D. (2016). Advanced Interpretation of the WISC-V, (2016).
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