Recently I attended a program given by a naturopath located in the Watchung Hills of Somerset County, NJ. We were discussing children who have been diagnosed as ADD, ADHA and Autistic. I attended this meeting because I had some concerns about my daughter who is 6 years old. Initially my husband and I wrote it off thinking that she was just acting that way because she has a 12 year old sister who is a drama queen and she too was fighting for attention at home. Having 3 children and 3 dogs things can get a bit crazy.
At our first teacher conference this year the teacher was voicing some concerns she was having with my daughter in class. She has had a variety of instances in school when she was disruptive, she tended to “yell” at the other kids and her teacher when she spoke, she did not pay attention, she was in her own world and did not have many friends in school (of in the neighborhood for that matter). Playdates with my daughter became her playing in one room and her friend in another.
I began doing some research about the signs ans symptoms of a variety of disorders that I thought she may be exhibiting. I spoke to my pediatrician who assured me this was all within the “normal realm” of being 6 and having older siblings. This message from my pediatrician did not leave me feeling at ease, it made me angry.
I was talking to a friend of mine who is an audiologist and I was telling her of my concern about my daughter and the response from the pediatrician. She asked me if I ever had her hearing checked? I figured nothing could possibly be wrong with her hearing. She along with my other 2 kids have always had their hearing checked at annual physicals from our pediatrician and they never mentioned anything being wrong.
My friend then suggested that I see her or another audiologist just to check for things that the annual physicals would not show. So sure enough I schedule the appointment and had her checked. My daughter sat in a sound proof booth for close to 1 hour, with ear phones on signaling to my friend when she heard a sound and in which ear. She would indicate this by which hand she raised when she heard the sound. Her hearing had checked out within the normal range. So my friend suggested we see her partner who specialized in auditory processing disorders. I was pretty alarmed that my daughter may have a “disorder” not realizing at the time what this meant.
When we scheduled the appointment with the other audiologist, once again my daughter had to sit in a sound proof room with the same ear sets on, but this time she was being fed words simultaneously from one ear to another. She had to indicate what she heard by repeating the words. This all seemed to go about as normal, until she was fed phrases alternating in ear and with a bunch of background noise. My daughter had a lot of trouble deciphering the words and the sentences that she thought she heard made us all laugh. Of course at the time we thought that those were silly sentences and that is what she was actually hearing in her headsets. After speaking with the audiologist after her testing was done, we found out that those silly sentences were FAR off from what was really being said. We were then told that indeed my daughter was suffering from auditory processing disorder.
The National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders defines auditory processing disorder as ,
“Auditory processing is a term used to describe what happens when your brain recognizes and interprets the sounds around you. Humans hear when energy that we recognize as sound travels through the ear and is changed into electrical information that can be interpreted by the brain. The “disorder” part of auditory processing disorder means that something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the information.
Children with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves are loud and clear. For example, the request “Tell me how a chair and a couch are alike” may sound to a child with APD like “Tell me how a couch and a chair are alike.” It can even be understood by the child as “Tell me how a cow and a hair are alike.” These kinds of problems are more likely to occur when a person with APD is in a noisy environment or when he or she is listening to complex information.”
Auditory processing is a term used to describe what happens when your brain recognizes and interprets the sounds around you. Humans hear when energy that we recognize as sound travels through the ear and is changed into electrical information that can be interpreted by the brain. The “disorder” part of auditory processing disorder means that something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the information.
The cause of APD is often unknown. In children, auditory processing difficulty may be confused with conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, autism, autism spectrum disorder, specific language impairment, pervasive developmental disorder, or developmental delay. Sometimes this term has been misapplied to children who have no hearing or language disorder but have challenges in learning. Sometimes it is associated with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, autism, autism spectrum disorder, specific language impairment, pervasive developmental disorder, or developmental delay.
We realized that my daughter was indeed “yelling” at the other children and her teacher because in her mind, she thought they heard the way she hears and she felt that by yelling they can hear what she was saying better. None of the other kids wanted to sit with her at lunch or play with her in school at recess or after school because she was deemed, ” not nice” because she always yelled at everyone. The children in class got her in trouble more then once because they said my daughter was yelling at them and hurt their feelings. My daughter was disruptive because she was bored, she could not make out what he teacher was instructing the children in doing so she created things to do by herself, thereby not paying attention in class.
The audiologist told us several things we could do immediately to help my daughter in school. The first was to sit close to where the teacher teaches from so she can hear better with less background distraction noise. The second was when addressing my daughter, use her name first to make sure she knows she is being addressed. The third was purchasing an auditory processing trainer device that would allow my daughter to focus more on what was being said to her and reduce background interference noise. the teacher wears a microphone to transmit sound and the child wears a headset to receive the sound. Children who wear hearing aids can use them in addition to the auditory trainer.
I am happy to report that we did the first three things listed above and have had great success with them. My daughter is doing better in school, she has learned to adjust her volume just by being aware of it, she has friends and I have a hard time keeping up with her social calendar now. 🙂