Auditory information processing involves all of these skills simultaneously. However, it is important to know what constitutes the ability to process auditory information, so that we can look at each area to determine if it is functioning properly.
- Localization – to localize to the source of sound. This is the best indication of auditory development. If a child cannot determine from where the sound is coming, their whole world will be very confused.
- Discrimination – to differentiate among sounds of different frequency, duration, or intensity
- Auditory attention – to pay attention to auditory signals, especially speech, for an extended time
- Auditory figure/ground – to identify a primary speaker from a background noise.
Sound in Noise – Our acoustic environment is different everywhere. There is always some ambient noise present – especially for children. Therefore in the presence of noise, we usually raise our voice above the ambient noise level. However, sound depletes quickly as we move to the back of a room. We find that many children with APD (and certainly a child suffering from Otitis Media) can’t hear above the noise level.
Ability to selectively listen (or Modulation difficulty). A child with poor attention may not necessarily have true Attention Deficit Disorder. Rather, that child may have APD with auditory figure/ground disturbances. In fact, this is the most common difficulty in people with auditory processing deficits
- Phonologic awareness: Identifying sounds in words, the number of sounds in a word, and similarities among words; may show up in spelling, writing, and reading difficulties.
- Auditory Discrimination – to discriminate among words and sounds that are acoustically similar
- Auditory Closure – to understand the whole message when part is missing
- Auditory Blending – to synthesize isolated phonemes embedded in words
- Auditory Analysis – to identify phonemes or morphemes embedded in words
- Auditory sequencing – to store and recall auditory stimuli of different length or number in exact order
- Auditory Memory – storing, or retaining, pertinent auditory information; may affect ability to follow oral directions, participate in discussions, and spell.
- Auditory Association – to identify a sound with its source
- Decoding of Speech – In learning to understand speech, we have to be able to form a memory for sounds and words. These are called auditory templates. Enough of the template must be stimulated in order to recognize word, etc. If something occurs (like where you don’t get consistent input), those templates are not going to develop as strong engrams. If you can’t get the phonemes, you can’t get the words. This is the basic skill required in learning to read. So being able to read begins as soon as we begin to hear sounds/phonetic elements.