Auditory Processing Problems

By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

“When my son reads, he struggles so much because he has to sound out the same word over and over again in the story.”  

“When I give my son three simple directions, he only does one…if that!  I’m sure he has an Auditory Processing Problem.”

How the Brain Processes

What is happening when bright, hard working kids and teenagers have to expend so much energy to process things auditorally?  For all of us, the left auditory brain hemisphere is supposed to learn new material, and then transfer it to the right visual hemisphere for long term storage, and easy retrieval.  When a child or teenager is struggling in this area, the hemispheres are not communicating as they should.  It is like there is a “disconnect.”

What are the Symptoms of an Auditory Processing Problem?

When a child is experiencing a significant Auditory Processing Problem the child/teenager almost always has difficulty with:

1. Reading

Sight Words:

  • “Word retrieval” is difficult.  Child tries to sound out all sight words.  “what=w-h-a-t”.
  •   Difficulty learning names of alphabet letters when younger.

Phonics:

  • Phonics “rules” (think auditory input) don’t stick, even with games.
  • Sounds out same word over and over again while reading.
  • Parents are often on their third or fourth phonics program.
  • Reads “extra” letters in a word that aren’t there, such as an “n” or “r”.
  • Often two or more years below grade level in reading when older.

2. Spelling

  • Words can’t be read by anyone else because they are not even spelled phonetically. Leaves out consonant and whole syllables, not just vowels, which are tricky for everyone.
  • Spells word differently each time. Has no “picture” of the word in his head.

3. Math

  • Math facts difficult to learn even with music, games, “wraps” and much repetition.
  • Skip counting or remembering the order of months of the year are hard.
  • Mental math is difficult (hearing his own silent voice).

4. Memory

  • Because most “curriculum” relies on auditory teaching methods, (reading, worksheets, listening to lecture), child appears to have memory issues. A child who is using too much energy for focus/attention can also appear to have a poor memory.

5. Tongue Twisters

  • Ordering sounds is hard, so child says words like, “Sundenly; Shuspicious; Mazagine”.
  • Avoids saying harder words in conversation.

6. Understanding Verbal Directions

  • When a child asks for directions to be repeated much, or says “what” a lot, it can be a focus/attention issue or an Auditory Issue, if many more other symptoms are present.

Not all of these symptoms need to be present to have an Auditory Processing Dysfunction.  The more severe the issue, the more symptoms will be present.

What to Do?

Parents and teachers have found that they can make learning easier for their child by doing two steps:   “Bypassing and Correcting.”

It has been found that we can bypass” the child’s difficulty with auditory processing of material by using more visual, right brain teaching methods. Let’s look at some of these successful methods that parents use at home to help their child “get in touch with the smart part of themselves.”

1. Reading

  • Right Brain Sight Words. This teaching technique involves imbedding the picture of the word onto the letters. Very struggling readers love this method because they can immediately remember the words to read and spell.  To see an example of this method, watch this video here on my site. These words can be made at home…no expense!
  • Right Brain Phonics.  For a struggling reader an intensive phonics program is necessary. Because of the Auditory Processing Problem, games, workbooks, writing or black and white cards often don’t transfer to easier reading.  For my students in my Resource Reading class in school, I created a Right Brain Phonics reading method, which again, uses the imbedding process.  Using this method, I was able to see a two year growth in my students, ages 7-14, in one year.  You can view this teaching method on my website.
  • Other Intensive Phonics programs.  In my experience with struggling readers with a fairly severe Auditory Processing Problem, I have found only five programs that seem to work well for these students. They vary in expense greatly.  Some are very expensive, others medium expensive, and one is minimally expensive.  If you would like a list of these five programs and their descriptions, just email me, craft@ecentral.com, and put “Alternative Phonics Programs” in the subject line.

2. Spelling

  • Spelling “rules” are auditory. Thus, they do not stick for this population. To bypass this spelling glitch, I used the Right Brain Spelling method with my students in school.  I taught them how to use their strong Photographic Memory for memorizing spelling words. It worked remarkably well, and greatly took the stress out of a child’s life.  When I taught my gifted sixth through eighth graders, I used this method exclusively to get a two to three year growth in spelling in a year.  To read about how to use this easy, inexpensive method, read the article, “Teaching a Right Brain Child,” on this website.

3. Math

  • Math is one of the most auditory subjects that we teach.  Because the math facts and processes are often taught by using rules (think auditory) and repetition, the child can become very discouraged, and the parent feels that the child isn’t “trying” to learn the facts. Once again, I turned to the child’s Photographic Memory to teach the facts and to remember processes.  I have “Right Brain Math Strategies” in our Lesson Plans section for parents who are interested in learning more about these easy strategies.

While the parent is successfully bypassing the auditory processing glitch, steps can be taken that will actually help to correct the child’s processing issue. This is a very exciting part of working with a struggling learner. I used two main methods to correct an Auditory Processing Problem in the children I worked with; Brain Integration Therapy and Targeted Nutritional Interventions.

  1. Increasing brain connections.  This is the exciting part. I found that I could effectively increase connections between the left/right, top/bottom and back/front part of the brain by using very specific body exercises to train the brain.  I used the Brain Integration Therapy Manual for that, doing the program that takes twenty minutes a day.  This is the method I used in my Resource Room classes with my bright but struggling learners, to make a two year growth in reading in one year, when used with right brain teaching strategies (www.diannecraft.org). I found this to be the least expensive, and fastest working midline therapy around.  Results are often seen with one month.  It also can be done by any “untrained” person.
    Another way to help improve brain connections would be to “outsource” this Brain Integrating process by seeking outside therapies such as NACD (www.nacd.org) or I Can Do, (www.ican-do.net)  outside of the home.  Auditory Sound programs have also proven to be helpful.  Auditory Integration Therapy, www.auditoryintegration.net, or the Fast Forward program, www.gemmlearning.com
  2. As a nutritionist, it has been my experience that by using targeted nutritional supplements many parents have found that they can greatly increase their child’s auditory processing ability.  When healing an Auditory Processing Problem in a child, for years I have relied on Brain Integration Therapy to reconnect brain processing areas, very specific Essential Fatty Acids, and Lecithin…the “auditory memory” food.  This subject will be explored in great detail in another article entitled, “The Biology of Auditory Processing and Memory Problems.”

The information in this article should not be construed as a diagnosis or medical advice. Please consult your physician for any medical condition and before adding supplements or changing a child’s diet.

Dianne Craft has a Master’s Degree in special education and is a Certified Natural Health Professional. She has a private consultation practice, Child Diagnostics, Inc., in Littleton, Colorado.

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