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Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a disorder that affects the way sounds are processed and interpreted by the brain. A child with an Auditory Processing Disorder may have perfect hearing, but will become confused when trying to process information that is heard. This results in the child not understanding the message being given, or in the incorrect interpretation of the sounds heard. There are a number of types of Auditory Processing Disorders and each affect the processing and interpretation of sounds differently.

What causes Ausitory Processing Disorder?

Auditory Processing Disorder is believed to be a neurological disorder of the central auditory nervous system. Brain functions associated with sound processing, and short-term memory, do not work effectively in children with APD. This can be due to a neurological developmental issue or a head trauma. Auditory Processing Disorders are not believed to have a bearing on IQ.

How does Auditory Processing Disorder affect learning?

The most common learning issues include;

  • Difficulty distinguishing between letter sounds
  • Reading difficulties
  • Poor spelling
  • Poor recognition of sight words
  • Difficulty comprehending meaning
  • Difficulty distinguishing between statements, questions and jokes
  • Difficulty understanding or remembering and following instructions
  • Difficulty paying attention to a speaker

How is Auditory Processing Disorder diagnosed?

You or your child’s teacher or childcare provider will probably be the first to identify the possibility of Auditory Processing Disorder. Initially, you may mistake auditory processing difficulties as a hearing or behaviour problem. If you have concerns talk to your child’s teacher or childcare provider about their observations and then visit your doctor to discuss your observations.

How is Auditory Processing Disorder treated?

There are a number of methods used to treat Auditory Processing Disorders. Although the disorder cannot be cured, teachers and other professionals, focus on developing sound recognition and short-term memory skills that will help the child to use and understand language more effectively. Learning activities specific to each individual child’s needs are used to develop these skills.

What now?

  • Download our Auditory Processing Disorder mini e-book to read about APD in more detail
  • Download our Auditory Processing Disorder Checklist
  • Make an appointment with your childs teacher or doctor to discuss your concerns
  • Read our tips on communicating effectivly with children who have APD
  • Use our Letter Names and Sounds program to practise sound recognition

Teach kids with dyslexia to read

Teaching children with dyslexia to read is a long and challenging process. However, with the right strategies, input from parents and teachers and persistence children with dyslexia can become competent readers.

Auditory processing and memory skills

Dyslexia was once believed to be associated with the eyes, visual processing and eye tracking. However, as experts learn more about the brain, it is becoming clear that all activities relating to literacy and language are directly connected to auditory processing and memory skills.

Although dyslexia has strong evidence of being hereditary, children with dyslexia may have had ear infections as a young child or experienced other auditory problems that have caused them to miss out on learning essential auditory processing skills. Children may also have poor short-term memory or memory recall skills, which inhibit their ability to remember and recall letters and words.

Children with dyslexia need to develop their auditory processing and memory skills to be able to start learning to read.

Phonological awareness

Due to the lack of auditory processing skills, children with dyslexia have poor phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear the sounds that letters make, match letter sounds to written letters and read and write words by sounding them out.

Although some people disagree because of the time it takes, it is generally believed that the best way to teach children with dyslexia to read is with a highly structured, systematic phonics program that teaches letter name and sound recognition. The program must also be multisensory in order to give children with dyslexia the best chance of creating lasting changes in the brain by engaging all senses and learning styles.

Although the progress shown in children with dyslexia is slow, improvements will be made with consistent practise. The key to success for these children is frequent short sessions with lots of repetition. Ten minutes of phonics practise each morning and afternoon will be more effective than one hour, one to three times a week. Since the pace of learning for these children is slow, some parents feel that what they are doing is not working; however, it can take years of intervention for children with dyslexia to find success in reading. Don’t give up!

Comprehension and vocabulary

Children with dyslexia struggle with comprehension tasks. This is because they are spending so much time decoding each word that they don’t have the ability to interpret the sentence at the same time.

Help children with dyslexia to become sophisticated readers by reading to them daily and discussing the characters and events in the story. Make predictions about what might happen next and look for hidden meaning. By doing the reading for your child and focusing purely on comprehension you are helping them to develop the skills to understand how to interpret texts.

Reading to children also helps to develop vocabulary. Discuss the meaning of unfamiliar words and think of other sentences you could use the word in. Helping a child with dyslexia to develop their vocabulary is important. When a child is reading and comes across an unfamiliar word, they have no clues to help them decode it and must rely on their phonological skills. If they have some knowledge of the word, this will work as a prompt when they are attempting to sound out words.

Parents and schools working together

Children with dyslexia need intensive, frequent, auditory, memory and phonological skill practise in order to move forwards in literacy. Thankfully, today’s schools provide children with daily, systematic literacy practise. Students who are identified to be at risk will also often receive extra support and intervention. However, it is crucial that parents also work with their children.

Children with dyslexia need constant repetition in order to gradually build neural pathways in the brain and create lasting learning. This takes time and practice. Parents should work with their children daily on simple listening, memory and phonics games. This is especially important during the weekends and school holidays when children have the tendency to forget what they have been learning because the practise stops.

Parents may feel overwhelmed by this. However, there are many programs available that provide simple activities and games that can easily be used at home. Our Comprehension and Listening Skills program and Letter Names and Sounds program are just one example of a simple, multisensory program. Parents can also speak to their child’s teacher and get advice on what they can do at home.

Encouraging confidence and persistence

Children with dyslexia will avoid reading and writing because it is difficult, and it doesn’t make them feel good. It is extremely important to help kids with dyslexia to identify their successes and enjoy learning to read. A multisensory approach with games is the best option as kids often don’t realise they are learning and simply enjoy the experience. Don’t chastise children for struggling or seeming not to pay attention. This will only make children less inclined to want to learn to read.

Children struggling to read need a confidence boost, so treat the time you spend with them on literacy skills as a special, fun time for the two of you. Celebrate every one of their successes no matter how small and encourage a love of reading by reading lots of different books to your child.

Review

  • Children with dyslexia often have poor auditory processing and memory skills. These skills need to be developed.
  • Children with dyslexia need to be provided with a highly structured, systematic phonics programthat teaches letter name and sound recognition.
  • Improvements in reading can be very slow. Frequent, short sessions of practise with lots of repetition is recommended.
  • Read to children with dyslexia daily and discuss vocabulary, characters and events in the story to help develop comprehension and vocabulary.
  • Parents must work with their children daily, on simple comprehension, listening and letter name and sound recognition skills. This is especially important in the school holidays.
  • Celebrate your child’s successes.
  • Don’t give up!

Five World Book Day Activities for Kids

Visit a library

Take your child to your local library to browse through the books and choose a new story to read. Libraries can become magical places of discovery and enjoyment. Take the time to read a few short picture books to your child while you are at the library and choose some more to take home.

Have a book picnic

Take lunch and a book to the park and read with your child while you enjoy your picnic. If it is raining out, have an indoor picnic instead. Lay a rug on the carpet and play make-believe. You could even invite some toys to join the book picnic.

Download a free book

Did you know that classic books (books that are over 100 years old) are free to download on Amazon Kindle books and Apple ibooks. There are many great classics that you can download today to read with your child, some of them include; The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

Write a story

Help your child to write a story. Choose a simple topic such as their favourite colour, toy or food and encourage your child to think of short sentences that describe the topic. For example, I like yellow. Chicks are yellow… You could even create a simple book by writing each sentence on a separate piece of paper, allowing your child to illustrate each page and then stapling the pages together.

Publish a book

If your child enjoys writing why not help them to publish one of their books. There are many websites that provide a DIY publishing service where you can make and order your own book. Here is a cute example from blurb.com. This website even lets you sell your book to other people.

I hope that these ideas inspire you to have some reading and writing fun this World Book Day!

FACT: World Book Day is celebrated each year on the 23rd April, the same date as the death Shakespeare and the birth or death of many other significant authors, including Cervantes and Maurice Druon.

Three benefits of learning to read with phonics

Children can start learning to read at a young age

Most children will be able to start learning phonetic sounds and how to combine them to read and spell by the age of three years. Different schools of thought recommend different starting ages for reading, and to some extent, it does depend on the individual child. However, neuroscience research shows that the area of the brain associated with reading does not begin to mature until approximately the age of three years. Pushing reading before this age can create negative reading experiences that may give children a less than positive view of reading. The good thing about phonics is that you can start teaching letter sounds informally, and healthily, when you think your child is ready. Simply learning the sounds that letters make will have a huge impact on a child’s later reading ability.

Phonics empowers children and boosts confidence

Using phonics to learn to read is a very empowering experience for children. After learning the first sounds taught in the phonetic alphabet, children begin to be able to read and spell simple words. This is because, by using phonics, children can clearly hear and decode the sounds that make words. For example, the word ‘sat’ has three simple phonetic sounds, s, a and t. By saying these sounds together children will soon realize that the word is ‘sat’. Because phonics allows children to begin reading so quickly it gives kids a real confidence boost. This positive experience is important in developing an openness to learning, especially and skills become more difficult as children get older.  It also encourages a love of reading.

Teaching reading with phonics is easy for parents

Once you know what phonics is, using phonics to teach your child to read and spell is easy and effective. Simply learning the alphabet is not going to help in learning to read and spell and can often confuse children when they begin trying to sound out words. By using phonics to teach reading skills you will be supporting what your child will learn in school and be providing them with useful skills that can be built upon to develop successful readers.

You don’t need to understand all of the technical language that goes along with phonetic reading strategies to be able to teach your child phonetic reading skills. At the simplest form phonics is basically using letter sounds instead of letter names.

Reluctant Readers

How to make learning to read fun!

Many parents struggle to get their children to read at home. This is often because kids find reading a difficult chore, rather than an enjoyable escape into a magical world.

Here are five tips parents can use to encourage reluctant readers.

Make it active

Learning to read does not need to be sedentary. In fact, learning to read should engage all the   senses in order to support different learning styles and generate a true understanding of the usefulness of reading in the real world. With young children, learning letter names and sounds can be made into a fun game by sticking letters on the floor and calling out letters or sounds for your child to hop onto. Children who are beginning to read and spell can also practice spelling simple words by hopping onto the   letters needed to spell words that you call out. With older children you could create a treasure hunt with written clues leading to a treat at the end of the game. The possibilities for creating fun, active games that promote reading skills are endless! You can discover more in our programs.

Engage their interests

Find books that will appeal to your child’s interests. Visit the local library or a bookshop and show your child that there are many books about their favourite characters, personalities and topics. Suggest books your child may enjoy with lots of images and not too much text that it is overwhelming. Non-fiction books may be more appealing than storybooks to some children. Discovering new facts about favourite topics can be an excellent way of enticing children into the wonderful world of books.

Make it a challenge

Some kids love a challenge or a competition. Start a reading challenge at home that links to rewards or pocket money. Children could earn points towards a reward for each word, page or book that they read, depending upon their age and learning stage. Have a family leader board tracking which family member reads the most books, or set a goal for a number of books to be read. You could even get involved in reading events, such as the MS Read-a-thon. A little positive motivation can often go a long way.

Don’t use negative pressure

Children who don’t like reading usually avoid it because they find it difficult, and it makes them feel bad about their abilities. Boost children’s confidence through encouragement and praise their efforts and achievements. Acknowledge that reading is difficult, and that you can see their struggles. Explain that reading will get easier with practice, and that everyone becomes a good reader at different ages. Draw their attention to new things that they have learned and celebrate their successes. Show them that you are there to support them and help them to improve, not to chastise them for struggling. Be your child’s cheering squad on the road to independent reading.

Create special moments

Kids who do not like reading often feel this way due to negative experiences struggling with books. Try to create a positive reading experience by making time for special moments to read to your child. Spending a few minutes cuddled up with your child, and a book is not only enjoyable; it creates a special, bonding experiences and cultivates a positive perception of reading. Reading to your child daily is also an important part of teaching your child to read and use language. Children who are read to daily are proven to have a larger vocabulary and a better understanding of language. They also tend to develop literacy skills more easily than those who are not read to.

I hope that these tips help you to convince your child that reading can be fun. Become a member to access our daily activities.

Help! My child is struggling in school

As we approach the middle of Term 1, now is the perfect time to put an action plan in place to deal with any struggles that your child may be experiencing at school. Your action plan should ensure that your child receives the support needed, inside and outside of school, in order to have a positive, productive and happy school year.

What you can do

  • Help with homework
  • Meet with the teacher
  • Seek specialist information
  • Work with your child

Help with homework

Helping your child with homework gives you the perfect opportunity to assess how your child is coping with schoolwork. If you notice that your child finds homework, such as reading, difficult, it is a good indication that some difficulties may be being experienced in the classroom. If you feel that your child is struggling, seek the teacher’s advice immediately. The sooner an action plan can be put in place, the better.

Meet the teacher

Your first point of help will be your child’s teacher. In many cases, teachers may request a meeting with you before you realise that your child is experiencing some difficulties. When meeting with your child’s teacher, discuss specific skills that your child is struggling to grasp and ways in which you can help to develop those skills.

The teacher may suggest that your child work on an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This simply means that throughout the term, your child will be focusing on developing a few specific skills that are essential to their progress. An IEP is an excellent way of working towards your child’s individual goals.

If the services are available, the teacher may also suggest meeting with other in school experts, such as a school psychologist. This is a perfect opportunity to screen for specific learning challenges such as dyslexia, visual and auditory processing disorders, attention deficit disorder and more. The information gained from these specialists can be crucial in developing a successful action plan for your child.

Seek specialist information

If your child’s school is unable to offer access to in school specialists, seek professional advice independently after discussing potential issues with the teacher. Your family doctor will be the best place to start.

After meeting with school specialists, or your family doctor, you may be referred to a more specific specialist such as an optometrist. Even if you disagree with the initial suggestion, it is worthwhile exploring every possibility in order to identify or eliminate causes of your child’s struggles. The roots of many learning issues are tricky to pinpoint but once correctly diagnosed can be easily addressed.

Work with your child

After identifying the learning issues affecting your child’s progress, start working with your child at home to develop their areas of weakness. Your child’s teacher, and any specialists whom are working with your child, will be able to offer you some suggestions.

Working with your child at home will help to develop skills and confidence. Look for programs to use at home that focus on building early literacy skills in conjunction with memory, concentration and processing skills. Programs such as those offered by Little Learning Planet are designed to effectively teach early literacy skills as well as essential cognitive skills. The programs are based on practices currently used in exemplary schools and support different learning styles and abilities. Members of Little Learning Planet also have access to a teacher for extra guidance.

Get started

It can feel quite overwhelming when your child is experiencing difficulties at school. However, by tackling the issues quickly, and supporting your child at home, you can proactively help your child to overcome their learning issues and find success at school. Get started now by talking to your child’s teacher and engaging your child in fun learning experiences at home. Above all, build your child’s confidence by encouraging and praising their efforts and helping to make learning achievable and fun.

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