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Auditory Processing Disorders

What Is Auditory Processing - Auditory Processing Dysfunction There are several different ways the brain processes auditory information. If there is a weakness in a particular kind of auditory processing, it may be observed through specific types of behavior.

Below is an explanation of the different types of auditory processing. Each category also includes possible difficulties that can occur if there is a weakness in that area, and possible strategies that may help overcome the difficulties.

Be aware that weakness can occur in one or more category at the same time.

It is important to note that many people without any kind of auditory processing disorder experience problems with learning and behavior from time to time. However, if a person consistently displays difficulties with these tasks over time, testing for auditory processing disorders by trained professionals should be considered.

Auditory Discrimination

The Skill—The ability to notice, compare and distinguish the distinct and separate sounds in words. This skill is vital for reading.

Difficulties you observe

  • Learning to read
  • Distinguishing difference between similar sounds. Example: Seventy and seventeen
  • Understanding spoken language, following directions and remembering details
  • Seems to hear but not listen

Types of Helpful Strategies

  • Practice rhyming, segmenting words into syllables, segmenting compound words, sound-blending and using similar sounding words (like obvious/oblivious).
  • Talk to student at a slow pace.
  • Give student one task at a time.

Auditory Figure-Ground Discrimination

The Skill—The ability to pick out important sounds from a noisy background.

Difficulties you observe

  • Distinguishing meaningful sounds from background noise
  • Staying focused on auditory information being given. Example: following verbal directions

Types of Helpful Strategies

  • Provide seating near audio source. Example: front of the class or near a video monitor
  • Eliminate unnecessary background noise during tasks. Example: TV, stereo, outdoor noise


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