Auditory Processing and Sound Therapy
What is Auditory Processing?
Auditory processing describes how we pay attention to sound – how the brain interprets the sounds we hear. It is defined as the ability to ‘hold, sequence and process’ auditory information (DEET 1991). Most of us actually hear far more than we are aware of. For example, we may not notice the ticking clock or the dripping tap until someone draws our attention to it. This is because, while hearing is a function of the ear, listening – paying attention – is a function of the brain.
The ear and the brain communicate with each other, just like two people having a conversation on the phone. If there is interference on the line such as the signal cutting in and out, a time delay, or a lot of background noise, the message may be confused.
Good auditory processing requires a high speed of information transfer between the ears and brain. It also requires a strong attention span, a good memory, and sensitivity to the many subtleties of sound.
First we must be able to decode auditory signals (sounds) as they are delivered. Then we need to integrate these with other environmental cues, and organise it all in a meaningful way. Unless we have these abilities, our relationships, learning and development are all challenged.
What is Auditory Processing Disorder?
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) describes the inability to process the meaning of sound. This condition may be present from early childhood, and can lead to a number of difficulties as the child reaches school age, where language and learning demands become more complex. An auditory processing disorder can also develop in adulthood as a result of stress or other health factors. APD is also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD).
How to identify an Auditory Processing Problem
An auditory processing disorder may exist even where hearing is normal. Auditory processing problems are often an element of other disorders, such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, learning disabilities, dyspraxia, Asperger’s syndrome, and speech problems.
The indicators of Auditory Processing Disorder
People with APD will display some of the following signs:
- Delayed language development
- Poor listening ability
- Difficulty conversing on the phone
- Difficulty hearing in a noisy room
- Trouble in sequencing the sounds of words
- Difficulty perceiving high frequency sounds: ‘t’, ‘f’ ‘s’, ‘k’, ‘p’, ‘th’, ‘sh’
- Confusion with similar sounds: e.g. ‘da’ and ‘ba’
- High distractibility, with a short attention span
- Poor speech comprehension, often asking ‘What?’
- Poor memory and inability to follow directions
- Difficulty in expressing desires, often blaming the other person for not understanding
- Academic problems, particularly in spelling, reading or comprehension
- Difficulty pronouncing complicated words
- Behaviour problems and social difficulties
How Sound Therapy May Improve Auditory Processing
Sound Therapy is an important treatment for auditory processing as it works directly on improving the entire auditory system from the ear to the brain.
Research has shown that our sensory systems can be enhanced through stimulation. Sound Therapy exposes the ear to specific patterns of highly filtered sound to strengthen neurological pathways and train the ear to listen more accurately. Performance of the language centre in the left brain is enhanced by increasing the stimulating input to the right ear.
Rafaele Joudry’s Sound Therapy draws on neurophysiological discoveries by scientists such as Stephen Porges and Alfred Tomatis to provide a program that is portable, affordable, accessible and easy to use.
For more information refer to the book Why Aren’t I Learning? by Rafaele Joudry.
DEET (1991). Australia’s language: The Australian Language and Literacy Policy. Australian Government Publishing Service