Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Therapy Thursday: SPD Auditory

Each week I post about some type of therapy we use, who recommended it, and the reason we are using it.  Remember, I am not a licensed therapist and I am sharing our experiences.  We would love to have you share too.  Please leave us a comment.

For the month of August, I am highlighting the different senses that Sensory Processing Disorder affects, a checklist of symptoms and some activities we do to help.  We started with proprioception, which is the internal sense of knowing where your body parts are without looking a them.  Then we went on to the tactile system, which is how our brain receives information coming from the receptors on our skin about touch, pain and temperature.  Next was the vestibular systemwhich coordinates movement and balance through receptors in the inner ear and in relation to Earth's gravity.  Last week we looked at the visual sense and how it is much more complex than just viewing an image.  

Sensory Processing Disorder: Auditory Sense

Auditory is the sense of hearing.  It is more complex than just sounds though.  There is the loudness (decibels), pitch, how long the sound lasts, and where it is coming from.  Some children are more sensitive to sounds.  Our 7 year old son wakes up at the slightest noise.  Other children may be sensitive to loud sounds  and cover their ears with their hands.  Not only that, but if a child has auditory processing disorder the brain can misread the sound coming in.  This is usually not due to a hearing deficit though.  It is a processing (or decoding) problem.    

Here is the auditory portion of the complete sensory processing disorder checklist found on

Signs Of Auditory Dysfunction: (no diagnosed hearing problem)

1. Hypersensitivity To Sounds (Auditory Defensiveness):

__ distracted by sounds not normally noticed by others; i.e., humming of lights or refrigerators, fans, heaters, or clocks ticking
__ fearful of the sound of a flushing toilet (especially in public bathrooms), vacuum, hairdryer, squeaky shoes, or a dog barking
__ started with or distracted by loud or unexpected sounds
__ bothered/distracted by background environmental sounds; i.e., lawn mowing or outside construction
__ frequently asks people to be quiet; i.e., stop making noise, talking, or singing
__ runs away, cries, and/or covers ears with loud or unexpected sounds
__ may refuse to go to movie theaters, parades, skating rinks, musical concerts etc.
__ may decide whether they like certain people by the sound of their voice

2. Hyposensitivity To Sounds (Under-Registers):

__ often does not respond to verbal cues or to name being called
__ appears to "make noise for noise's sake"
__ loves excessively loud music or TV
__ seems to have difficulty understanding or remembering what was said
__ appears oblivious to certain sounds
__ appears confused about where a sound is coming from
__ talks self through a task, often out loud
__ had little or no vocalizing or babbling as an infant
__ needs directions repeated often, or will say, "What?" frequently

It is not uncommon for auditory problems to accompany learning difficulties, speech delays and
other developmental disabilities.  There is also a strong correlation between the auditory and vestibular senses since both of their receptors are located within in the inner ear.

One therapy that our Occupational Therapists recommended for our boys is a therapeutic listening program, which can be used in conjunction with traditional therapy.  Watch the YouTube video below which explains therapeutic listening.

Another Occupational Therapist recommended Mozart music for periods when concentration is necessary. The link below is a great one. It can be used without headphones, or with with headphones for best results. It contains binaural beats. For more information on what it is and how it can improve concentration and reduce anxiety, here is a link to an article: What are binaural beats and how do they work?

When we know we are going to be in a loud environment, such as a ride on a train or during fireworks, we provide our children with noise reducing ear muffs such as the ones below.  This makes for a much more enjoyable experience all around.

I am currently trying to find out who tests for Auditory Processing disorder (APD).  Our 10 year old son has suspected APD, but he has also recently been diagnosed with hearing loss in one ear and referred for a hearing aid.  I have been told to contact the school district, the school district has told me to contact an audiologist, the audiologist has advised me to check the local university, and the university no longer offers testing for APD, however they do offer therapy for it.  If you have any helpful suggestions I sure would appreciate them!

Update: We were able to get in with the local university for Auditory Processing Disorder testing, however, they could not test our son because of the hearing loss in his right ear. I have since learned from his Audiologist that is it thought that everyone who has hearing loss, also has APD. So there you go! 


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