Auditory Processing a Root Cause of Dyslexia

October is Dyslexia Awareness month, and as I was listening to a CD on the topic it made me think about how important it is to do things in the right order.

But first I will back up; Dyslexia is primarily a language disorder.  Often when individuals have difficulty learning to read we must look deeper than reading skills and assess their key cognitive foundation skills.  Auditory processing is a key foundation skill for reading.  Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologist are the professionals that have spent the most time in their studies learning about and understanding auditory processing disorders.   Obtaining specific information about auditory processing skills along with a more global cognitive battery of tests can save time, emotional stress and money when working with someone that has difficulty reading, or Dyslexia.

When someone has difficulty with auditory processing skills they can hear the sounds (hearing acuity) however they have difficulty with perceptually understanding the sound accurately and or with sound manipulation. The individual's central nervous system has trouble using auditory information.  Individuals with auditory processing may have difficulty in one or more areas listed below:

  • Auditory Fatigue and/or Auditory Hypersensitivity
  • Auditory Memory
  • Competing Noise
  • Decoding Difficulties
  • Discrimination of Sounds
  • Distortions of Sounds
  • Localization of Sounds
  • Sequencing Information
  • Timing and Rhythm Issues
  • Understanding Sound Patterns
  • Word Pronunciation

The one thing you should know is that rehabilitation for auditory processing difficulties are extremely successful.  For reading rehabilitation the pairing of auditory training and work with attention and memory is very powerful.  These underlining steps should be done prior to any direct work on reading for the best outcome.  It is only appropriate to use accommodations short term while intensive auditory and cognitive training is occurring or after the training is completed to improve the individual's independence even further.  To accommodate too early will not allow the individual to meet their full potential.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself about your child to know if they may have signs and symptoms related to auditory processing disorders.

  • My child cannot repeat new words well.
  • My child has difficulty understanding people with foreign accents.
  • My child frequently asks "what?", says "huh?" and needs things repeated.
  • My child has difficulty listening in group settings.
  • My child often misunderstands auditory information.
  • My child often puts words in the wrong order when speaking.
  • My child has difficulty reading.
  • My child does not enjoy reading.
  • My child enjoys being read to and likes going to stage plays.
  • My child often has trouble following verbal directions.
  • My child has trouble looking at people when they are talking and or listening.
  • My child's reading is slow.
  • My child often has trouble answering people’s questions.
  • My child often guesses what words are instead of sounding them out.
  • My child has difficulty with spelling.
  • My child can recite stories by memory.

If you think your child may have an auditory processing deficit see an audiologist or speech pathologist that specializes in these problems.  There are strong positive outcomes for individuals with auditory processing disorders and later good accommodation solutions to improve academic achievement even further.

Dr. Parker holds a Ph.D. in Speech Pathology from Michigan State University.  Her daughter, Sally started off in elementary school with significant auditory processing and memory problems. Sally now in the 9th grade is an avid and highly successful reader.  Dr. Parker is the owner of The Brain Trainer, PLLC located in Charlotte, NC.


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