Children with auditory processing disorder don’t process what they hear the same way other children do. There’s a difference in how their ears and brains coordinate, making it difficult for them to process the differences between sounds. There’s no cure for APD, but there are many treatment options available.
Beyond therapy, educational accommodations, and support at home, assistive technology can play a huge role in the success of kids with APD. From minimizing background noise to helping them listen for sound patterns and process competing words, assistive technology can help children better understand what they hear in many different ways.
Assistive listening devices: A remote microphone is placed with the person speaking (often a teacher), and their speech is transmitted to a student’s earpiece receiver. On a larger scale, sound field systems can be integrated into a classroom setting to better distribute the teacher’s voice. Both options work to reduce background noises and distractions so that students can focus on processing what’s being said.
Noise-cancelling headphones: Because background noise can make it difficult for people with auditory processing disorder to focus, noise cancelling headphones can be used to lower the overall noise level, while still allowing them to hear someone who is speaking to them. These headphones can be especially helpful in settings like a cafeteria, gyms and sporting event venues, and rooms that echo. Reducing the background noise allows kids to focus and process more effectively.
Audio recorders: To someone with APD, processing what is being said can be confusing. As speech progresses, the noise may seem fractured and jumbled. An audio recorder allows a child to listen to a lecture or lesson as many times as he or she needs to without interrupting the class. Some recorders and editing software allow the listener to slow the playback down for even more efficient processing.
Note taking apps: Building on the benefits of an audio recorder, there are note taking apps and speech-to-text assistive technology tools available that allow a child to record a lesson and type (or draw!) their notes simultaneously. Other options give the student the ability to take notes and organize them across devices.
Computer-based training: Software such as Fast ForWord Home helps to improve a child’s auditory processing and sequencing skills so users can process the subtle differences between sounds, along with boosting their reading and language skills. By addressing processing speed and accuracy challenges, Fast ForWord Home is able to help treat the underlying causes of reading challenges for fast improvements.
Finding the right mix of therapy, environmental accommodations, and assistive technology is important for every child with auditory processing disorder. As a parent, working with your child’s medical and educational teams is an important step in helping him or her reach their full potential. Keep an open mind and explore the many options available.