PROCESSING AND THERAPY
Help for Hearing Beyond the Simple Detection of Sound
The Auditory Processing Assessment
An Auditory Processing Evaluation is designed so that the listener cannot rely upon their “thinking power” to figure out what was said. We focus on how the auditory signal is processed BEFORE cognition is largely employed. We are therefore looking at how clearly and how rapidly the auditory signal gets to and through the brain. In order to use our brains effectively for listening, the auditory signal needs to be of good quality.
The evaluation takes place in the controlled setting with standardized tests and equipment. This is important for reliability and validity, as we are trying to determine if an auditory processing deficit exists and, if so, where in the system the breakdown is occurring. The location of the breakdown is what determines therapy focus.
We start by evaluating the peripheral auditory system, which is the part of our hearing that detects the presence and absence of sound. If this is within normal limits, then we can proceed with the auditory processing evaluation. The assessment tools we use target different areas of the auditory system, creating either difficult listening situations or requiring very specific auditory tasks. This includes taxing the auditory pathways of the central nervous system. A normal auditory processing system will be able to handle an increased load, but an auditory system that is already struggling to understand speech cannot handle the demands.
We evaluate children as early as the age of six, as early intervention is critical. The evaluation lasts about an hour and a half. The testing atmosphere is very comfortable and accommodating. Even children with attention disorders are able to complete the battery of tests. However, if a second session is needed in order to complete the evaluation, it will be scheduled at no extra charge.
Occasionally we are able to discuss the findings of the Auditory Processing Evaluation immediately after the visit. However, most of the time we find it is best to have a follow up counseling session, which is scheduled at no extra charge. The goal of this follow up session is to educate the client about any auditory deficits that were discovered, and to plan a course of therapy.
If the patient is a child, he or she is encouraged to attend the follow up session, and the results are presented in a positive, helpful manner so that the child completely comprehends their auditory issues. At this meeting, parents are asked to be silent but active listeners so that they have the opportunity to observe their child's reactions and to focus on their child's questions. Over the years, this has proven to be an effective method to fully educate both the child and the adult.
If the patient is an adult, we strongly recommend that their partner and family attend the follow up session. They need to understand the disorder and how it impacts communication.