What It Is and How It Affects Our Children
© 2002 Karen J. Foli
When our son, Ben, was
three years old, my husband and I realized that Ben was severely delayed in his speech and
language skills. The experts performed their tests and words like autism and
mental retardation floated around us. We were desperate to unlock this puzzle.
Why wasnt our affectionate, bright child able to say his own name or engage with his
RESOURCES: For more information contact:
The National Coalition of Auditory Processing Disorders (www.ncapd.org ) The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (www.asha.org)
WHAT IS APD? Fortunately, we kept looking for answers and when my son
was six years old, he was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder or APD. All the
paradoxes of Bens behavior fell into place. Dr. Jack Katz, a pioneer in auditory
processing research, described it as: what we do with what we hear. The child
with APD is receives the sound, but the message is distorted and jumbled. Research
continues as to the cause of this disorder.
PREVALENCE: Experts estimate that this disorder
affects three million school-age children. Auditory Processing Disorder and attention
problems can coexist, and to the casual observer, the symptoms of both AD/HD and APD can
appear very similar: distractibility, inability to attend to tasks, and inability to
A COMPLEX DISORDER: There are no known medications to treat APD, and
children with APD present very differently. Speech and language may be affected. Other
children may have difficulty tuning out background noise and being able to attend to the
teacher speaking in a classroom. Since each childs needs vary, management strategies
need to be individualized. Finally, difficulties with auditory processing surface at
different ages. The toddler who cant speak or the kindergartner who cant grasp
basic phonics or the junior high school student who cant take notes may all have
some form of APD. This disorder has nothing to do with how intelligent a child
ismany of these individuals are quite bright!
GETTING HELP: The person qualified to diagnose APD is the
audiologistbut a routine hearing test wont detect APD. When seeking an
evaluation, make sure that the audiologist is trained in specific auditory processing
tests and that a complete audio logical work-up is performed in order to make sure that
the childs hearing is normal. The APD test results will steer the management
strategies. The audiologist often works very closely with a speech-language pathologist to
design a treatment plan.
MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES: Today, my ten-year-old son, Ben, receives As and Bs in a regular
classroom. He has friends and most importantly, is a happy child. To help him manage his
APD, we utilized a combination of speech therapy, computer based auditory training
programs, and multi-sensory language programs that enabled him to feel sounds
as well as hear them. Remember, an individualized plan designed by the audiologist and
speech-language pathologist will save time and frustration.
About the Author: Karen J. Foli is the author of LIKE SOUND THROUGH
WATER: A Mothers Journey Through Auditory Processing Disorder (Pocket Books,
February 2002). Find out more about this book
and Karens background at www.karenfoli.com .
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