Hearing is one of our senses that helps us make sense of the world around us.
Can you imagine what it would be like to live without hearing? For many kids, that's not just the hypothetical - that's the unfortunate reality.
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition that affects approximately 5% of school-aged children. It is a neurological condition that affects the brain's ability to process sounds, making it difficult for children to understand speech and process different types of sound.
The good news is that with early diagnosis and support, children with APD can thrive in the classroom and beyond.
If you are interested in helping children with APD, donating to organizations that support them is a great way to make a difference.
In this post, we'll tell you everything you need to know about donating to support children with auditory processing disorder - and one great organization to consider for the cause.
What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?
APD is also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). In and of itself, it is not technically a hearing problem and doesn't actually involve hearing loss.The input is received - but this unique disorder occurs when the brain cannot process auditory information correctly.
Individuals with APD cannot interpret and differentiate sounds or pick up the subtle changes in sound that can significantly affect their perception of speech, language, and social interactions.
For example, an individual with APD may have difficulty understanding speech in a noisy classroom or differentiating between similar sounding words.
The signs and symptoms of APD vary and can overlap with other disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia.
Some common signs and symptoms of APD include:
difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments
trouble remembering and following instructions, even from a loved one
difficulty organizing thoughts and expressing ideas concisely
avoiding language and social situations
taking more time to process and respond to speech
How is An Auditory Processing Disorder Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of auditory processing disorder is complex and involves a few different steps, starting with a comprehensive hearing evaluation. The evaluation with an audiologist usually assesses the individual's hearing acuity, examining the sensitivity of the ear to sounds.
In most cases, the audiology tests come back with normal results the first time, indicating that the ears work well and that the child does not have any profound hearing loss or hearing difficulty.
However, since sound comprehension occurs in the brain and not the ears, other diagnostic procedures are necessary to differentiate this condition from another type of hearing impairment. A hearing test is necessary when diagnosing auditory processing disorder, but a hearing screening alone is not enough to sort out this situation. Other approaches are almost always necessary.
One such method used to differentiate APD from other hearing problems is the speech-in-noise test, where the individual is tested with words spoken against a noisy background. APD diagnostics also involve an evaluation of how the individual processes sounds, particularly low-frequency tones, and time intervals.
Next, a speech language pathologist (SLP) performs a series of tests to determine an individual's language abilities, including grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.
The SLP also conducts tests to evaluate the individual's working memory, attention, processing speed, and executive functioning. All these tests aim to determine if auditory issues related to brain function impair the individual's ability to understand speech.
Finally, since APD shares symptoms with other sensory disorders, a comprehensive evaluation is necessary to rule out other causes of listening difficulties.
A neurological exam may be performed to check for damage to the nervous system, and additional tests such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be required to make sure that structural damage is not the underlying cause of auditory processing issues.
How Do Care Professionals Treat Auditory Processing Disorders in Children?
The good news is that there are ways to treat APD. Care professionals can work with affected children to improve their listening skills and enhance their overall quality of life.
Auditory Training: This is a form of therapy in which children participate in listening exercises designed to enhance their ability to process auditory information.
Auditory training involves various activities that can be done both at home or in a clinical setting. For example, listening to recorded stories, following specific directions, or responding to tones in the left ear or right ear specifically in a soundproofed room.
During these exercises, care providers gradually increase the complexity of the tasks to help the child refine their skills. Auditory training has been found to be effective in enhancing attention, memory, listening skills and enhancing communication abilities in children with APD.
Environmental Modifications: Changes to the child’s environment can make a difference in their ability to process auditory information. Care professionals can work to minimize background noise in the child’s environment, which can help them hear sounds more clearly.
Accommodations can also be made such as preferential seating in classrooms, and the use of assistive devices. Potential hearing solutions that might be used for kids with APD include earmolds, FM systems which transmit a speaker’s voice directly to a child’s hearing aid, the set of hearing aids themselves, or even cochlear implant.
Speech and Language Therapy: In some cases, speech and language therapy can be an effective way to treat APD. Speech and language therapy focuses on improving the child’s language comprehension, vocabulary, and articulation skills.
If a child has difficulty processing phonetic information, the therapist can use different techniques to help them understand the different sounds of words and enhance their speech abilities.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Auditory processing disorder can sometimes lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help children overcome these challenges by changing their mindset and behavior. CBT can help a child develop new coping strategies, learn new communication skills, and improve self-esteem.
Medication: In rare cases, a child may be prescribed medication to help with symptoms of APD such as anxiety and attention deficits. Some common medications used in treating APD include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, and stimulants.
However, medication alone is generally not considered an effective treatment for APD and should only be used under a doctor's guidance (and only for related conditions and not the APD itself).
What Can I Do to Help a Child With Auditory Processing Disorder?
One of the most important things you can do to help a child with APD is to be patient and understanding. It can be frustrating for them when they’re struggling to understand what’s being said or to keep up with conversations. Let them know that you’re there to support them and that it’s okay to ask for help.
Children with APD can have trouble filtering out background noise, which can make it difficult for them to focus on what’s being said.
Providing a quiet environment can help them concentrate and reduce distractions. Turn off the TV or radio, close windows if there’s traffic noise outside, and try to avoid noisy activities like vacuuming or running the dishwasher while they’re trying to listen.
Working with a professional who has experience with APD can be extremely helpful. An audiologist or speech-language pathologist can evaluate your child’s hearing and provide recommendations for treatment. They may recommend therapy or suggest accommodations, such as the use of assistive listening devices.
How Can I Raise Awareness for Kids With Auditory Processing Disorder?
Perhaps you're wondering how to help a child with APD that's not actually your own child.
If that's the case, one of the best ways to support children with APD is by donating to hearing campaigns like the Scottish Rite Foundation. The Foundation works to provide free hearing tests and treatment to children in need. They also support research into hearing disorders like APD, which can lead to better treatments and outcomes for children with these conditions.
Here are some other things you can do:
Spread the Word: The first step you can take to raise awareness of APD is to share information about the condition with those around you.
Share relevant articles, social media posts, and video content with your friends and family, who may not understand the struggles of a person with APD. By providing accurate information, you can help people understand the importance of supporting those living with APD.
Offer Support: Children with APD often feel isolated and may struggle to form positive relationships with their peers. As a parent, friend, or educator, you can offer support to those affected by APD by ensuring they feel heard and valued.
Take the time to learn about the condition, and work with your child's school to ensure they are receiving the resources needed to manage their APD.
Get Involved: Finally, getting involved in organizations that support children with APD can help raise awareness on a larger scale. These organizations promote research, support, and advocacy on behalf of children with APD.
By volunteering your time and resources, you can help increase awareness of the condition and improve the lives of those living with it. Below, we'll tell you about the best charity to consider if you want to help kids with APD - the California Scottish Rite Foundation.
Give the Gift of Hearing With Your Donation
The California Scottish Rite Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to helping children with language and literacy disabilities throughout California. Their mission is to provide children with life-changing speech, language, and literacy treatment, free of charge.
The Foundation partners with several universities, private practices, and RiteCare Childhood Language Centers of California to achieve this goal.
Ritecare Centers: RiteCare Childhood Language Centers of California is one of the programs that the Foundation supports with funds raised from donors. Each year, over 2,300 children receive treatment for childhood language disorders from these centers.
The centers use a range of evidence-based therapeutic techniques, such as play therapy, to improve language, speech, and literacy skills in children.
University Partnerships: In addition to operating the Centers described above, RiteCare also has partnerships with several universities to ensure they can offer services to children in all kinds of communities.
The partnerships make it possible for students to get the hands-on experience they need under clinical supervision so they can make a world of difference as a speech language pathologist upon graduation.
Currently, the Foundation is partnered with California State University Long Beach, the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Chapman University in Orange County,and California State University Los Angeles.
Private Partnerships: In addition to supporting RiteCare centers and university partnerships, the Foundation partners with private practices like Speech Goals.
These private practices offer speech and language therapy to children who demonstrate communication delays or disorders. The Foundation believes that working with private practices can provide more opportunities for children who may not live close to a RiteCare center.
Scholarships: The Foundation also partners with several universities to support students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The Foundation awards over $200,000 annually in scholarship assistance to more than 100 California students. This support enables students to focus on their education without worrying about financial burdens.
Provide the Gift of Better Hearing - and Improve the Quality of Life - for Children With Auditory Processing Disorder
Imagine not being able to hear the sound of your child's laughter, your favorite song on the radio, or even the sound of your own voice. For many children and adults, living with APD can make everyday tasks incredibly difficult. However, there is hope.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can significantly impact a child's quality of life. If you are a parent or caregiver, it's crucial to understand the signs of APD and consult an audiologist for the necessary evaluations and therapies.
And even if you don't have a child in your life with APD, there's still so much you can do to support those affected by this disorder.
By providing the gift of better hearing with your monetary donation, you can help children everywhere thrive - academically, socially, and emotionally.
Let's work together to improve the lives of children with APD and spread awareness about this often underdiagnosed condition.