Auditory processing skills involve an individual’s ability to receive information through the ears. There is a lot more to this than simply hearing sounds. The individual should be able to process the information as well. There are times that auditory processing skills are easily measured but there are many instances that these skills are very difficult to detect, especially if the individual has a pervasive developmental disorder.
There are a couple ways to determine if a child’s auditory processing skills are up to par. First, and most obviously, is the ability to express understanding through language. This is expressive processing. You know that the child understands because he responds through language.
A basic example is a simple question. Asking, “What is this?” while holding an object like a ball should be adequate for gaining a good idea of the child’s auditory processing skills. The verbal (expressive) response, “That’s a ball,” works perfectly in most cases. However, there are times when the individual is not able to use expressive language.
Expressive language is the most common way that we gauge auditory processing skills. This type of communication includes sign language as well. If a child uses the sign for “ball” when posed the question, then you know that he has processed the information. There are instances when sign language isn’t an option, either.
The Picture Exchange Communication System is a fantastic bridge between visual processing and auditory processing skills. The system involves icons that represent objects, people and activities. A parent or therapist can use images to help the child understand what is being said. The pictures are gradually faded out of the program and the child should begin to rely on his auditory processing abilities after practice.
Some parents and therapists have to rely on the child’s receptive processing skills. The child may not be able to express that he understands what is being said but we can still get a good idea of how well his auditory processing skills are by his response to receptive commands.
A basic example of a receptive command is, “Clap.” If the child claps in response to the command, he has receptively processed the command. His behavior is proof of his auditory processing skills. Ideally, we want to work towards expressive language but behavioral response to direction is a good start.
There is no way of knowing exactly what another person does or does not understand. However, we can get a basic idea of a child’s auditory processing skills through his responses, whether those responses involve words, signs, pictures or behavior.
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