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Home School Life Journal
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Saint Francis DeSales
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Homeschooling Special Needs Students: Auditory Processing Disorder

What is auditory processing disorder?

Auditory processing is a term used to describe what happens when your brain recognizes and interprets the sounds around you. The "disorder" part of auditory processing disorder means that something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the information. Nearly all students with reading disabilities will have their delays rooted in an auditory processing disorder.

Students with auditory processing disorder may exhibit some of the following processing problems:

  •  Difficulty distinguishing one sound from another (phonemes)
  • Difficulty identifying similarities and differences in sound patterns (rhyming)
  • Difficulty blending, isolating, or separating sounds in words (decoding words).
  • Poor auditory memory

These difficulties with auditory processing may manifest in the following ways:

  • Poor listening skills.
  • Difficulty following oral instructions or discussions.
  • Frequently say, “huh?” or “what?”
  • Difficulty with phonics or letter-sound correspondences, sound blending or segmentation.
  • Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words
  • Poor spelling.
  • Slow fluency of reading.
  • Poor reading comprehension.
  • Difficulty understanding in the presence of background noise.
  • Poor attention, day dreaming, high distractibility (may seem like an attention disorder).
  • Give slow or delayed responses to oral questions.
  •  May be prone to behavior problems due to frustration or boredom
  • Avoidance of reading or other difficult tasks.

Typical Grade Levels When Auditory Processing Disorder is identified:


  • 1st grade: When children are not learning letter-sound correspondences.
  • 4th grade: When reading, writing, and lecture become more advanced and less contextual (no pictures).
  • 7th grade: When reading and writing become less narrative (1st person). Demand high-level comprehension in order to complete assignments and comprehend lecture.

How Can I Help My Child With an Auditory Processing Disorder?

There are many types of treatment for APD:
  • Auditory trainers are electronic devices that allow a person to focus attention on a speaker and reduce the interference of background noise.
  • Exercises to improve language-building skills can increase the ability to learn new words and increase a child 's language base.
  • Auditory memory enhancement, a procedure that reduces detailed information to a more basic representation, may help
  • Auditory integration training to retrain the auditory system and decrease hearing distortion. 
  • Environmental modifications:
  1. Limit background noise during seatwork (may want ear plugs).
  2. Present directions in short segments, using visual cues if possible.
  3. Rephrase and repeat what you have explained in simple language.
  4. Give them a chance to process what you say.
  5. Ask him to repeat back what you said.
  6. Teach note taking skills or help them improve their technique.
  7. Maintain structure and routine so directions are predictable.
  8. Write directions down on a piece of paper or a whiteboard..
  9. Assign an older sibling so they can check understanding. 
  10. Present information as visually or kinetically as possible.
  11. Avoid giving too much oral information.
Do any of you have experience teaching a child with auditory processing disorder? What have you found that helps?

4 comments:

  1. You know, I have wondered about this with Sarah before. It's so hard to separate things out. Her autism-spectrum disorder means executive functioning is hard for her, so her ability to comprehend verbal instructions suffers, but I don't know what "part" comes from what, you know? The strategies for helping with auditory processing disorder are many of the same ones we've found helpful, so maybe that's good enough, right?! :)

    Thanks for this - you are, as always, a WONDERFUL inspiration and resource!!

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  2. Batman has some of those characteristics, but if he does have auditory processing disorder, it's very mild. I'm actually wondering if he has mild dyslexia. I'm not sure, he's struggling more with reading than his brother is, but it's nothing that I'm too worried about..... yet......

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  3. I love the way you've laid this out so clearly. My 7 year old son has mild auditory processing disorder but more severe problems processing vestibular, propriaceptive and tactile input. He is also mildly dyslexic.

    We're quite new to the diagnosis and treatment so I hadn't really made the connection between his phonic awareness and his auditory processing before. Interesting.

    Lucinda

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  4. My almost 10 year old has auditory processing disorder as well. I thought we worked rather well with it, but recently introduced verbal narration of a stories and found out how much he is missing. Now, I am doing more research! Thank you for this blog. Still struggling on how to help him with math. Simple addition etc... baffles him. But I need to take into consideration what his mind must or must not comprehend.

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