The term auditory processing disorder is used when a student’s difficulties are believed to be due to a weakness in the ability to process verbal and written language.
Children with auditory processing disorders often do not recognize the small differences between sounds in words, and may struggle to understand or remember what the teacher says even though her voice may be loud and clear. The child will have even more difficulty understanding what is said when there is noise or other activity in the classroom.
Causes of processing difficulties
A history of ear infections, during the first three years of life, is thought to cause auditory processing disorders. If the child has an ear infection, fluid may build up in the middle-ear space, and if it remains there over a period of time during the early years of life while the child is developing, it may prevent the sound from reaching the brain.
If the brain does not receive the sounds, the area of the brain which interprets them does not develop. During the first three years of life lullabies and bedtime stories and talking to the infant child help to develop these areas of the brain.
In older children the buildup of wax in the ears, or water from swimming, may be responsible for the sound stimuli not reaching the brain. Any form of blockage that distorts the sound wave on the way to the brain will weaken the child’s ability to interpret what he hears.
Food allergies can, also, be a big factor in brain function and performance. The main foods to which children appear allergic are dairy, wheat, corn, and sugar. The allergy may result in fluid in the middle ear, changes in behavior, redness around the eyes, being tired and sleepy or a runny nose. Allergies affect the brain by keeping it from functioning at its best.
Other causes of processing difficulties
There are things that may interfere with normal child development that can be easily identified at home. Really alert parents have proven over and over what good nutrition, good child rearing practices, sound sleep, plenty of exercise and good parenting will do to improve a child's development. And, it is never too late to begin to try to make a difference.
When determining whether a child needs a special education the school does not address why a child does not interpret language well, and will not attempt to correct the problem, the only concern is that the child is having difficulty with language and teaching methods will be modified to help him to learn in spite of his problem.
When a diagnosis of auditory processing is being considered it is very important to explore all the things in the environment that may be impacting the child’s focus and attention. Parents should insist that everything else has been ruled out before accepting any diagnosis of a disability in their child.