Auditory Disorders in Children Affect Learning
Auditory learning plays a large part in the learning process especially for a child. But what would happen to a child who listens but can’t hear what she’s supposed to hear?
For children with auditory processing disorder, distinguishing sounds proves to be a challenge. According to speech and hearing expert Gail Chermak of Washington State University, an estimate of 2 to 5 percent of children are affected with the disorder and that many cases are left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This could be because the symptoms that are presented by people with APD which include difficulty paying attention, low performance in school, and poor reading and vocabulary are more often mistaken for attention deficit disorder (ADD) or Autism.
Since this disorder affects only a small population of children, APD is still little known. Thanks to the efforts of talk-show host Rosie O’ Donnell, some light has already been shed to this sporadic disorder. O’Donnell recounts their experiences and struggles with the disorder in a book “The Sound of Hope” by Lois Kam Heymann, the speech pathologist and auditory therapist who took attention to her son’s problem.
Heymann said while children with APD can hear perfectly, they have trouble distinguishing the different sounds from each other. Rhyming words may sound exactly the same to a child with APD. This makes the child work harder into making sense of what she hears and while she does that, the teacher not knowing the issue, continues at a normal pace. The child in turn gets left behind in her classes, and develops a limited vocabulary including difficulty in reading and spelling. Interacting with other s may also be hard for these children which results in social and behavioral problems.
To help children with APD, parents and educators should come up with adjustments to help the child cope with her environment. Carpets and strips of felt can be installed on the floors and tennis balls can be placed on chair and desk legs to minimize the noise and avoid the child becoming distracted. The use of simple words in giving instructions lets the child understand things better and faster and cutting out abstracts and metaphors is also very helpful in lessening confusion.
Parents’ efforts to support their child play a big role in the success of the learning process. Like in O’Donnell’s case, she cut back on large, noisy gatherings that are upsetting to her child. Another parent in Westchester County had the teachers wear a microphone that delivers the sound to a speaker installed on the child’s desk.
APD does not in any way affect a child’s intelligence. Blake, O’ Donnell’s son, has an encyclopedic knowledge of animals, accelerated classes in Latin and achieved honors in Science class. Though academics may reflect results of their hard work and adjustments, it doesn’t stop there. A child who accomplishes something acquires not only a sense of achievement but also a feeling of belonging and social acceptance, that she is no different than anybody else.