Visual and auditory processing are the processes of recognizing and interpreting information taken in through the senses of sight and sound. The terms, "visual and auditory processing" and "visual and auditory perception", are often used interchangeably. Although there are many types of perception, the two most common areas of difficulty involved with a learning disability are visual and auditory perception. Since so much information in the classroom and at home is presented visually and/or verbally, the child with an auditory or visual perceptual disorder can be at a disadvantage in certain situations. The following information describes these two types of disorders, their educational implications, some basic interventions and what to do if there is a suspected problem.
Visual processing disorder What is it?
A visual processing, or perceptual, disorder refers to a hindered ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. This is different from problems involving sight or sharpness of vision. Difficulties with visual processing affect how visual information is interpreted, or processed by the brain.
Common areas of difficulty and some educational implications:
Spatial relation This refers to the position of objects in space. It also refers to the ability to accurately perceive objects in space with reference to other objects.
Reading and math are two subjects where accurate perception and understanding of spatial relationships are very important. Both of these subjects rely heavily on the use of symbols (letters, numbers, punctuation, math signs). Examples of how difficulty may interfere with learning are in being able to perceive words and numbers as separate units, directionality problems in reading and math, confusion of similarly shaped letters, such as b/d/p/q. The importance of being able to perceive objects in relation to other objects is often seen in math problems. To be successful, the person must be able to associate that certain digits go together to make a single number (ie, 14), that others are single digit numbers, that the operational signs (+,,x,=) are distinct from the numbers, but demonstrate a relationship between them. The only cues to such math problems are the spacing and order between the symbols. These activities presuppose an ability and understanding of spatial relationships.
When classroom teachers are confronted with children who ''will not listen,'' ''cannot sit still,'' ''does not finish classroom assignments,'' and ''creates problems for other children,'' hearing loss is not the first problem the teacher considers. Maybe it should be.
Research studies show that one out of three children have enough hearing loss to make learning difficult. Children in every school (public and private) are at risk for this silent epidemic.
Five million school-aged children, or 11.3% of all school children in the U.S.A. exhibit some degree of hearing impairment. This startling finding was reported by Fred Bess Ph.D., from the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in a recent issue of The Hearing Journal. Dr. Bess noted that many children have ''unrecognized'' hearing loss. The largest undetected hearing loss in children affects those considered to have ''minimal sensorineural hearing loss'' (MSHL). Dr. Bess found that the prevalence of MSHL in schools is 5.4%, or more than one of every twenty children.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood, estimated to affect three to five percent of school-age children. ADHD core symptoms include; developmentally inappropriate levels of attention, concentration, activity, distractibility, and impulsivity. Children with ADHD usually have functional impairment across multiple settings including home, school, and peer relationships. ADHD has been shown to have long-term adverse effects on academic performance, vocational success and social-emotional development, according to the National Institute of Health and the office of Special Education Programs.
The diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is often based on doctor, parent, and/or teacher observations of the child's behaviors.
Could these two problems (ADHD and MSHL) overlap, or perhaps be easily confused based on observations of children's behaviors?
Recently, an assistive listening device manufacturer compared the behavioral characteristics of children with ADD/ADHD, to children with mild hearing loss. They discovered extraordinary similarities among the two groups.
Both groups have academic difficulty and both give inappropriate responses to questions. Neither group completes assignments, they both exhibit trouble sustaining attention during oral presentations, and for both, following directions is problematic. Impulsiveness and acting out are common to both groups, as is a poor self concept. Both groups of children exhibited low self esteem, fewer social interactions with their peers, and greater stress. Members of both groups were more likely to drop out of school. Both groups tended to repeat grades imposing a significant financial burden on the schools, and of course, their families.
Could this mean that some children diagnosed with ADHD/ADD could actually have mild or minimal hearing loss?
Portrait Health Centers, the industry leader in the treatment of learning disorders for children and adults, shares tips, news, and advice about the treatment, diagnosis, and therapy options for people struggling with Attention Deficit (ADHD) and other learning disorders.