AUDITORY PROCESSING PROBLEMS AND HEARING

Boy with down syndromeMany children with learning problems are found to have hearing problems as well.

Even though there may be no hearing loss as such, there may be a processing problem in the absence of a hearing loss. 

Hearing loss and processing problems must be evaluated as separate issues, although they may be closely related.

Children with learning disabilities often show signs of auditory processing difficulties. These may present as

  • auditory inattentiveness,
  • lack of ready response to auditory input,
  • poor auditory memory,
  • problems with phonics or with spelling, or
  • a speech and language delay or disorder.

This kind of auditory processing problem may be at the root of the difficulties of about 40% of children with learning difficulties, although the percentage is believed by some researchers to be as high as 80%.

Learning problems are not the only symptom of poor auditory processing: - behaviour problems can also result, or hyperactivity, or an attention-deficit problem.

A percentage of children with poor auditory processing may show a hyper-sensitivity to sound, - i.e. they may over-react to common noises, and be distressed by classroom sounds. They may cover their ears, or retreat from crowds. They may be aggressive, or have tantrums in shopping centres.

Sometimes their “acts as if deaf” behaviour is a tuning-out of painful sound.

FST practitioners will in some cases perform a listening exercise using a screening audiometer to determine what settings to use in the course of FST. IT IS EMPHASISED THAT THIS IS NOT A HEARING TEST, AND CANNOT BE INTERPRETED FOR THE STATUS OF THE PERSON’S  HEARING.  Should there be concern about the client’s hearing, the client is referred to a suitably trained audiologist or medical practitioner.