A new year means new pressures
With a new term comes new dramas. This term – exams! And classes for next year! The results of both having huge influences on the future prospects of children. With so much of learning these days being delivered through spoken language, especially at High School level, the importance of good auditory processing cannot be underestimated.
At this time of year the pressure is on for students in high schools with NCEA and end of year exams. The effects of specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, in otherwise bright students comes to the forefront. Not only is this time of year important for students already in high school but also for those at intermediate, moving on to high school next year. Parents of children at intermediate level are also concerned, understanding that the class placement of their child in High School next year will have a significant effect on their learning for the next five years. We frequently see a sudden influx of teenagers at this time of year as this High School drama unfolds.
For example, one such child was referred to the centre by his school due to concerns about his spelling and listening skills.
-13 years old
-An avid reader
-Spelling at an 8 year old level
-Understood math concepts at his age level but couldn’t remember his times tables
And with further investigation it was discovered that he had:
-A poor short term memory
-Needed instructions repeated
-Could only follow one or 2 instructions in a sequence
-Was disorganised with his belongings, schedule and assignments.
His teacher described his classroom behaviour as:
-Listening in class was intermittent – listening well for short periods then losing focus
-Easily distracted by noise
-Oversensitive to certain sounds
-Frequently misinterprets questions and instructions and requests
All of the above are classic symptoms of an Auditory Processing Difficulty.
An auditory processing assessment revealed that although he has normal hearing, he cannot not process speech accurately when he can hear more than one person talking at a time. He also has difficulty discriminating between similar sounds (such as “i’ and “e”, ) cannot hear accurately the sounds within words (will write tree for three, and sting for string )and his ability to remember a short sequence of numbers was at an 8 year level.
In a high school setting a child with similar difficulties, as the boy described above, will often be placed in a lower stream than his or her true academic capabilities, and will not have the assistance of a consistent class teacher to redirect them to listen when losing focus. Parents, such as those of the boy above, are understandably keen to have their child placed at a level which reflects their child’s true learning potential, and this is often when they sought out other options to help their child.
The student above was placed on an intensive auditory retraining therapy programme to retune his auditory system. This process is rapid and changes can be seen within a number of weeks, with the full results being seen in academic scores 6 months after completion. By the time he begins High School he will be in much better shape, with his auditory system up and running. With so much of learning being delivered through spoken language, especially at High School level, the importance of good auditory processing cannot be underestimated.