Improve the Way Your Brain Processes Sounds
What is Auditory Processing?
Auditory Processing is a term used to describe your brain’s ability to interpret and make sense of speech sounds, both quickly and efficiently enough to understand spoken language. Individuals are able listen to effectively when energy that we recognize as sound, travels through the ear and is changed into information that can be interpreted by the brain.
What is an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?
An auditory processing disorder is a neurologically based disorder. It is marked by an individual’s inability to distinguish between distinct speech sounds, or consonants, resulting in the brain’s inability to interpret information correctly. The speed of processing may also be reduced. They may actually miss words because their capacity to process information quickly is impaired. Individuals with this kind of disorder cannot distinguish between similar short words, like “da” and “ba”.
For example, the request “Tell me how a chair and a couch are alike” may sound to a child with APD like “Tell me how a couch and a chair are alike.” It can even be understood by the child as “Tell me how a cow and a hair are alike.” These kinds of problems are more likely to occur when a person with APD is in a noisy environment or when he or she is listening to complex information.
Consider this question; “Who was the first president of the United States?” An individual without processing difficulties will process the question correctly and provide the appropriate answer, George Washington. Alternatively, a person with a processing disorder will simply process the words. A child with an auditory processing disorder, in a classroom setting, may misinterpret the sounds, words, and/ or the meaning of the same question. As a result, they miss crucial information that follows. They may still be thinking about the meaning of the question when the rest of the class has moved on to something else.
An auditory processing disorder can injure a child’s self esteem. It may seem to parents or teachers that a child with an auditory processing disorder is ignoring them or intentionally not paying attention. In reality, these patients cannot really help it. Their self-esteem, obviously, will be affected when they are criticized for “not listening”. It is a statistical fact that 75% of a child’s day in school is spent listening.
Children with auditory processing difficulty typically have normal hearing and intelligence. However, they have also been observed to:
- Have trouble paying attention to and remembering information presented orally
- Have problems carrying out multistep directions
- Have poor listening skills
- Need more time to process information
- Have low academic performance
- Have behavior problems
- Have language difficulty (e.g., they confuse syllable sequences and have problems developing vocabulary and understanding language)
- Have difficulty with reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary
What can be done?
The BrainAdvantage program incorporates sound therapy to improve the auditory skills necessary to effectively listen, learn, and communicate.
The field of sound therapy was pioneered by the French ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr Tomatis in the late 1940s when he discovered that he could repair the damaged hearing of opera singers and factory workers by playing to them the sounds they could no longer hear. He discovered the link between the ear and the voice and discovered that by improving the way we listen, he could dramatically improve learning, balance, coordination and posture as well as communication and creativity. Listening is very different to hearing. listening is an active process we can choose to do while hearing is passive and automatic. As the ear and brain becomes receptive to high frequency sounds, energy and performance increases and a feeling of wellness becomes more common. While sound therapy is relatively new in the U.S., it has a long tradition in Europe.
Sound Therapy uses specially recorded acoustically-modified classical music and nature sounds to retrain the way you process sound and the way you listen. It stimulates the vestibular system in the inner ear which then stimulates the Limbic System in the brain to allow you to focus on those sounds which are useful to you and to filter out those that are not. It can restore the ability to hear frequencies which may have become diminished through ear infections or loud noise exposure. Because it also affects the Limbic System (the emotional center of the brain) it can affect behavior and anger issues as well.
Auditory Processing Articles and Research