Auditory Processing Disorder in Schools- How Can SLPs Help?

What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), it is a disorder characterized by problems in the reception and/or transference of auditory signals in the central auditory nervous system and can lead to difficulties in higher order language, learning, and communication. Specifically, students with CAPD may present with difficulty following complex auditory directions, comprehension of rapid speech, and understanding spoken language in a noisy environment. They may also require multiple repetitions and extended time to process auditory information.

Who Can Assess and Diagnose?

An Audiologist is responsible for evaluating and diagnosing CAPD; however, SLPs can evaluate and diagnose any issues related to linguistic processing of the auditory signal and can complete screeners in order to make a referral to an audiologist for a possible diagnosis. It is important that a multi-disciplinary team be involved in determining strengths, weaknesses, and treatment for these students. This team may involve the SLP, audiologist, educators, psychologist, pediatrician, and other related health professionals.

Treatment- How Can We Help?

There are many ways that SLPs can help students both in therapy sessions and in the classroom environment!

  1. Auditory Trainers- SLPs can provide the recommendation for a teacher to wear a microphone to transmit sound, while the student wears headphones to receive the sound. This eliminates any background noise and allows the student to focus in on the speaker.
  2. Environmental Modifications- SLPs can consult with teachers and recommend a change in seating for the student to improve the listening environment.
  3. Auditory Memory Strategies/Compensatory Strategies- SLPs can teach and practice strategies to compensate for missed auditory information. These strategies can also carryover to the classroom! Some of these strategies include the following:
  4. Key Words: Student extracts specific words to retain the most important auditory information. For example, "Get out a pencil, your math book, and turn to page 68). Here the student would focus on "key words," which would be "pencil, math book, 68."
  5. Watching the Speaker: Watching the person speaking can help in better receiving the message.
  6. Verbal Rehearsal: Repeating words quietly aloud can assist in retention of information.
  7. Relational Strategies: Making information meaningful through things such as mnemonics.
  8. Chunking: Taking individual pieces of information and grouping them into larger units.
  9. Asking Specific Questions: Asking specific questions vs. open-ended questions can help in narrowing down the exact information that was missed.

As SLPs, our role is to advocate for and help students with Auditory Processing Disorder overcome some of these challenges! We hope that some of these suggestions will help some of your students be successful in the classroom!