Building a Language Foundation

Auditory Processing Disorder, including any deficiency, delay or weakness in the auditory processing system, affects the way we learn to listen. For children and adults with developmental delays in the auditory processing system, language problems begin when listening becomes a lot of work. As you could imagine, anyone who finds listening to be a lot of work, especially a child, will become selective in their listening. Unfortunately, any child or adult who exhibits selective listening will inevitably miss out on the acquisition of a strong language foundation. Problems with early speech and language development that are related to delays, deficiencies or weaknesses in the auditory processing system oftentimes may not be evident until a child reaches the age of 8 or 9. It is at this stage of life when learning becomes more language-based in which the ability to understand abstract concepts becomes essential in the learning process.

Auditory Processing Disorder and Language Development

The acquisition of language is one of the most outstanding accomplishments seen in infancy and early childhood development. Babies tend to speak their first words around the age of one and typically learn about 1,500 words by age four. Around the same time, children begin to use language not only to get their needs and wants met, but also to socialize. It is critical to understand, especially in cases of children with auditory processing disorder, that we initially learn language by listening. A well-developed auditory processing system is thus fundamental to learning a good, strong language foundation. The language skills learned in the preschool years serve as an important foundation for learning in school. Children with a solid language foundation tend to develop strong skills in both reading and writing. On the contrary, children with auditory processing weaknesses tend to develop poor listening skills that ultimately slow the healthy development of language.

Importance of Early Identification and Intervention

It is crucial to diagnose and address auditory processing weaknesses as early as possible. Parents can learn to identify the most common signs of an auditory processing weakness, including:

  • A child who is late reaching his or her speech and language milestones.
  • A child who appears to be a selective listener.
  • A child who is not auditorily connected to his or her environment.
  • A child who appears unusually frightened by, or overly sensitive to, sounds.

Left untreated, auditory processing weaknesses tend to diminish even further. Eventually, untreated auditory processing weaknesses can manifest into Auditory Processing Disorder, complete with language, learning, attention and/or social and emotional issues. If a parent, teacher or audiologist successfully detects and addresses an auditory processing weakness early enough, then a child can quite often acquire the listening skills required for auditory development and thus lessen the learning challenges associated with an Auditory Processing Disorder. It may be difficult to formally diagnose a child with an Auditory Processing Disorder before the age of seven, but it is never too soon to recognize the early warning signs of an auditory processing weakness and address those weaknesses through listening exercises to strengthen overall listening skills. A “daily listening diet” is essential to this process.

A “Daily Listening Diet”

When auditory processing deficits become a piece of the puzzle, a “daily listening diet” can prove quite helpful. Learn why a daily listening diet is a critical element in remediating an auditory processing problem.