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14 Nov 2017

Central Auditory Processing – a Parent’s Perspective (part 1)

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There has been much in the media recently about Australian education standards.  With the introduction of NAPLAN testing in schools, it has never been easier to see how your school and how your child rates against National averages. If you feel your child is not meeting the required standards and you suspect it’s because they can’t hear well in a classroom, you are not alone.

Paying attention, listening and remembering are all developmental skills just like learning to walk and talk.  We expect to get better at them as we get older and have more practice. For some children however, the rate of development is slower than we would like, and this can result in them falling behind their peers in the classroom.  When a child is failing to do well at school it is important to first make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of the problem.  That way we can provide the most appropriate therapy.

There are many reasons why understanding verbally presented information is more difficult for some children.  Your GP can help guide you as to where to start looking for answers.  Perhaps a language or learning disorder is suspected.  Maybe it’s a problem maintaining attention.  For approximately 5% of school-age children, the problem stems from a reduced ability of the brain and ears to coordinate, or an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Children with APD are often observed with some or many of the following:

  • History of ear infections
  • Short attention span/difficulty maintaining attention
  • Difficulty remembering what is said after a short time
  • Reduced ability to follow verbal instructions
  • Tendency to daydream
  • Being easily distracted by background sounds
  • Poor ability to work in a group situation
  • Problems discriminating phonics (speech sounds)
  • Poor reading and writing skills
  • Low motivation to learn
  • Performance below expected standards at school

At Melbourne Audiology Centre we test children who are suspected usually by a teacher or parent, of having APD.  The aim of the testing is to rule in or out auditory processing as being at least part of the cause of the problem.  For this reason we keep the child in the best possible attentive state throughout the testing (our clinicians have become very skilled in this area!). While this is not a true reflection of the child’s natural behaviour in the classroom, it does ensure that we are testing auditory processing abilities and not his or her ability to stay focussed.  

By Fiona Savati one of Melbourne Audiology Centre’s APD specialist audiologists.

Please contact us at Melbourne Audiology Centre if you would like more information, or to book an appointment for your child.