Processing, Processing, Processing

This word is peppered in conversations I have with parents every day.  Three types of processing affect our daily activities:  language processing, auditory processing, and processing speed.  People can have difficulties in just one area or a combination.  Someone may have both auditory-processing and language-processing difficulties, for example, or auditory-processing and processing-speed issues

Language processing is how we understand the meaning of words and sentences.  Individuals with language-processing difficulties may have trouble understanding concepts such as “around,” “inside,” “over,” “before,” and “after.” They may also have difficulty following conversations with “he”, “she”, “they,” or other pronouns.  Certain kinds of sentence structure may pose a challenge, too.  “The girl on the bike stopped at the traffic light” may be easier to process than, “She carefully stopped at the traffic signal when she rode her bike.”

People with a language-processing disorder show these symptoms:

  • They often use short sentences when talking.
  • They may seem like the quieter kid in class.
  • They become confused following directions.
  • They have difficulty learning prepositions and pronouns.
  • They don’t understand subtle language such as inferences, idioms, and humor.
  • The variety in the type of sentences they use is limited.
  • When they are young, they may be able to learn to read without much trouble yet they have difficulty learning new vocabulary.

Auditory Processing is how our brain discriminates, identifies, analysis and manipulates sound.  In people with this disorder, the ears hear but the brain does not interpret the sounds accurately.  Individuals with auditory processing difficulties often mispronounce words while speaking and reading.  They may struggle to learn to read, spell and write. For example they may struggle to blend (put sounds together) or segment (take apart) words they have not heard before or non-sense words Cloister – k – l-oi –st-er . 

Signs and symptoms of an auditory processing difficulty:

  • The individual may be overwhelmed by too much sound or loud sounds such as vacuums, toilets flushing and environments such as kids’ arcades and sporting events.
  • They mispronounce words when speaking and reading, although they clearly know what the word means for example specific becomes pacific or there are many trials of a difficult word like cinnamon – minomen, minimum, cinn – o –mon, cinnamon.
  • They often say,”Huh? What?” to allow for more time for processing.
  • They have difficulty learning to read and spell.
  • Though they try to follow directions, they frequently misunderstand them. 
  • They may seem to have attention or memory problems. 
  • They have difficulty learning a second language and have difficulty with code games at home like pig Latin. 
  • They have difficulty doing two tasks at the same time.
  • The length of their sentences maybe average, and they may like to talk.
  • They may have difficulty understanding pitch changes and may not be on key when singing.

Processing speed is about how fast you take information in and are able to execute tasks.  If information is processed slowly, we typically miss some of the information that is coming in.  Your child may be listening to instruction A.  However the teacher is now on instructions B and C.  Your child misses B and C because he was still focused on A. 

Signs and symptoms of processing speed difficulties:

  • Homework takes longer than expected.
  • In the classroom your child is repeatedly the last one done on tests and in-class assignments.
  • Getting dressed in the morning, or getting ready to go anywhere, takes a very long time.
  • People with processing speed difficulties don’t like competitive sports or activities where racing is involved.

Speech language pathology services at The Brain Trainer can help you determine your or your child’s weaknesses in processing and strengthen the areas that need it.  School and work become more fun and productive when it’s easier to think and communicate quickly and clearly.

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