Auditory Processing Disorder: The Most Common Reading Problem You’ve Never Heard Of

September 26, 2012 by Geoff Nixon

The Most Common Reading Problem You’ve Never Heard Of

It’s Almost Always Auditory Processing Delay

At the heart of almost all learning delays lies an auditory processing delay. Auditory processing is the ability to hear sounds accurately at natural language speed, and to do so effortlessly and automatically, and an auditory processing delay is called central auditory processing disorder.

Why is this important?  Think about the main learning environments:

    auditory processing delay

  • Listening in class. If listening isn’t easy, lectures are exhausting as so much extra effort is required just to hear the words, let alone comprehend them.  For this reason, many children with an auditory processing delay end up on ADD medication.
  • Basic reading. If decoding is not automatic, literal reading comprehension is challenging as the brain is forced to multi-task, focusing on decoding as well as comprehension.  Many children with auditory processing disorder have poor phonological awareness and therefore poor decoding skills.  They are often diagnosed as dyslexic,  and end up doing years of extra reading instruction, working around the underlying problem.
  • Reading  to learn.  In later years, knowledge and understanding come mainly from reading.  If a student lacks metacognition, the ability to adjust and self-correct, insightful learning is difficult.  Metacognitive skills can only develop when reading is automatic, a skill which requires sound auditory processing skills.
Why is an auditory processing delay such a pervasive difficulty?

Because the English language uses words that have multiple sounds.  This requires a high level of processing accuracy, up to 40 sounds a second, both for listening and for decoding.

While most children develop this high level of  processing efficiency through daily language interactions in early life, many do not, leading to years of language, learning, and reading frustration.

The good news is that auditory processing disorder treatments are available.  Just because a child does not develop the needed skills naturally does not mean that they cannot develop.  There is a new wave of brain-based programs, lead by Fast ForWord software, that can make a dramatic impact on auditory processing skills in only a  few months. Learn how Fast ForWord treats the cause, not the symptoms, of auditory processing disorder.