New Podcast Raises Awareness About Auditory Processing Disorder in Children

Julia Métraux

Health Writer

Did you know that in a classroom of 30, there is likely at least one child affected by Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)? APD is a neurological condition that disrupts the brain’s ability to process sounds, and it is responsible for the listening problems of a surprising number of school-aged children.

Children with APD may have a hard time following directions in class, as they are prone to misunderstanding and forgetting spoken instructions. Instead of assuming a child is misbehaving – especially if they do so repeatedly – it may be worth considering a referral for an auditory processing evaluation.

If you are a parent, you may want to ask yourself these questions, outlined in an article from Kids Health, which are signs of APD:

  • Does my child often mishear sounds and words?
  • Are noisy environments overwhelming when my child is trying to listen?
  • Does my child's listening behaviors and performance improve in quieter settings?
  • Does my child have trouble following verbal directions, whether simple or complicated?
  • Does my child have trouble with spelling or phonics?
  • Are verbal (word) math problems hard for my child?
  • Are conversations hard for my child to follow?

In the first episode Between Two Ears, which aired last week, audiologist and APD specialist Angela Alexander, AuD, helps inform parents on the ways in which they may more effectively support children with APD. For example, Dr Alexander suggests that parents should take a more proactive role in working with teachers, so they in turn become more supportive of students with auditory processing difficulties.

Between Two Ears

Angela Alexander, AuD is the host of Between Two Ears

According to Dr Alexander, "while hearing loss and APD are not the same things, the things that help people with processing problems will also be helpful for kids who have hearing loss." Both APD and hearing loss in children require compassion and patience from the adults around them.

Remember, if you are a teacher, there is always a possibility that you are working with children who have undiagnosed APD. You can implement some of the following strategies from Dr Alexander's podcast while working with your students.

  1. Instead of saying, "I'll only tell you this once, "you could say, "Do you need me to say that again in another way?"
  2. Instead of saying, "You aren't listening!", which reinforces the narrative that children with hearing difficulties behave poorly, you could make sure you have the child's attention before speaking.
  3. Ask, "Can I help you figure out what you're needing right now?" if a child is confused or overwhelmed.

You can listen to Dr Alexander's podcast for more advice and strategies. As she succinctly puts it, "the greatest factor in success for a child with auditory processing disorder is the attitude and understanding of their teachers and caretakers."