Because the auditory process matures fully by 13 years, it is possible that your child may grow out of it once they reach that age.
Listening skills usually develop as the auditory system matures. It usually takes around 12-15 years of age to have complete auditory processing maturity. However, development in these children is slower than that in others to meet developmental milestones. A child is diagnosed with auditory processing disorder (APD) if their auditory processing skills are significantly behind those of their age peers. With appropriate and early intervention and therapy, children with APD can be successful in school and life by becoming active participants in their own listening, learning, and communication. Many children may improve their auditory skills over time before the auditory system fully matures. However, there is no sure way of knowing if a maturational delay is the cause. Treatment to help the child catch up in auditory skills and language development is still usually advisable. While some children may experience complete improvement, others may experience some lifelong residual degree of deficit.
What is auditory processing disorder?
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a hearing disorder in which the ears process sound normally, but the hearing centers and circuits of the brain don’t correctly process incoming information. The auditory (hearing) system causes a disruption in the way an individual’s brain understands what they are hearing. APD is the inability to make optimal use of what we can hear. Children diagnosed with APD typically have normal hearing and normal intelligence; however, they have difficulties listening, particularly in the presence of background noise. Some of the most frequently reported symptoms include:
- Difficulty following multi-step directions that are presented verbally, without visual cues
- Easily distracted by loud or spontaneous (sudden) sounds
- Difficulty with long periods of listening
- Difficulty remembering or summarizing the information presented verbally
- Difficulty reading, spelling, or writing when compared with peers (performs consistently below grade level)
- Trouble following abstract thoughts or ideas
- Delayed or misunderstanding of jokes, idioms, and figurative language
Causes: The exact cause is yet to be established. Below are a few common causes as per researchers:
How to help a child with auditory processing disorder?
There are many ways to support people with auditory processing disorder (APD) and make it easier for them to manage the challenges. These include:
- Using simple, one-step directions
- Speaking at a slower rate or slightly higher volume
- Providing a quiet spot for doing work
- Being patient and repeating things people miss
- Schools may give students extra support in class under a special education plan (for example, kids might be seated at the front of the room, away from distractions, or they might get written instructions instead of spoken ones)
- Measures to reduce echo in the home and classrooms
The main treatment for APD is speech therapy under the guidance of speech-language pathologists who work in clinics or private practice. The earlier treatment starts, the better.