This blog has been designed to help people learn about effective, simple treatments for attention deficit disorder, autism, auditory processing disorders, dyslexia, and even challenges learning a new language.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What are auditory processing problems like in real life?

This question actual is two different questions: What is it like to live with auditory processing problems? and What should I be looking for?

The first, first. Living with auditory processing problems is a constant challenge. If you're reading this blog to help your child or other loved one, I'll let you in on a secret... it's no fun to be your child! He (she) wishes to have an easy life like "everyone else."

A person with problems processing auditory input has to work hard to hear every word. Have you ever been listening to a lecturer who drones monotonously, or one who whispers, or one who uses such long, technical words that every word he utters has to be interpreted before you can understand it? How do you feel after listening to him for an hour? ... That's how it feels to have an auditory processing problem, only all the time!

And how did you cope with this? Did you start to whisper to your neighbour? Close your eyes for a short nap? Leave, just to stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh air? Stare out the window? ... Hmm ... it's starting to sound familiar, isn't it?

For those of you who have had to learn a new language as an adult, you'll have experienced a very normal auditory processing problem: not understanding the new vocabulary. However, the symptoms and experience are the same as the dysfunctional variety: you can't understand every word, you have to listen very carefully, you have to extrapolate by the bits you heard and understood, you tune out from time to time to take a mental rest, and you (maybe) feel foolish when you're trying to get information from someone and simply can't make it make sense. Exactly the same experience as that of a person with auditory processing problem with one major difference: When learning a new language, you can put it away for a while and speak in your native tongue with your family and friends, picking and choosing when you use the new language and when you ask, "Do you speak English?" If you have an auditory processing problem, you can never turn away from it for a break!

So, what should you look for in your child? Kids are clever, so they can always come up with new coping strategies, so there's no such thing as a comprehensive list. But here's a pretty good start:
  • Says "huh" or "what" then answers your question without needing you to repeat it
  • Looks at you blankly for a moment before responding
  • Talks loudly (to drown out the background noise that he can't actually push into the background)
  • Whispers (because it sounds so loud to his own ears)
  • Complains that the TV or radio is too loud or not loud enough -- this may change from song to song or show to show.
  • Doesn't like a baby or someone with a high voice for no apparent reason.
  • Afraid to enter new places
  • Visually observes a room before entering
  • Is easily startled
  • Complains of being bored when you instinctively feel he hasn't tried or you know he hasn't been at it long enough to get bored
  • Calls something "dumb" as an excuse for not doing it, even though you know it should be his cup of tea.

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