3.7 Auditory Processing Disorder & Dyslexia
For as long as John’s parents could remember, John has always had trouble reading. John didn’t read his first sentence until he was in third grade, well after his peers had started reading. John also reads very slowly. John struggles with several reading tasks, including breaking words into syllables, sounding out words, and rhyming. John mixes up small words when reading, such as ‘at’ and ‘to’. He often confuses the plus and minus signs when reading math problems. John struggles with school assignments that involve reading and writing. As a result, John is not doing so well in school.
John’s parents set up a meeting with his teacher. During the meeting, John’s parents learn that John does not follow instructions well in class, seems to forget information that is given verbally, and has trouble carrying on conversations with his teacher and fellow students. John is referred to a licensed psychologist for testing, where he is diagnosed with dyslexia. John’s psychologist refers him to an audiologist, who diagnoses John with auditory processing disorder.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a brain-based specific language disorder that causes reading difficulties. Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence or vision problems, rather it is related to an impairment in the brain’s ability to process and interpret language. It is estimated that over 40 million Americans are dyslexic. People with dyslexia have decreased phonological awareness, or the ability to recognize that words are made up of speech sounds, and how to manipulate speech sounds. John’s difficulty with rhyming is an example of decreased phonological awareness. Dyslexia is also associated with decreased verbal memory. Verbal memory refers to the ability to remember information that was provided verbally for a short period of time. John’s trouble following instructions is one sign of impaired verbal memory. Decreased verbal processing speed, which is how fast you can take in and interpret information that is given verbally, is another feature of dyslexia. John’s slow reading is an example of decreased verbal processing speed.
Other signs of dyslexia include learning to talk at a much later age than your peers, mispronouncing words often, mixing up syllables and letters when reading, problems remembering steps or sequences in order, trouble spelling, trouble with math problems, and problems telling time.
What is Auditory Processing Disorder?
It is not uncommon for an individual with dyslexia to also have an auditory disorder. Auditory processing disorder, also known as central auditory processing disorder, is a neurological condition that impairs the ability to take in, understand, recall, and apply information that is obtained through hearing. Similar to dyslexia, auditory processing disorder is not linked to intelligence or hearing problems, rather it is related to an impairment in the brain’s ability to process and interpret auditory information.
Symptoms of auditory processing disorder include difficulty completing verbal instructions, confusing words that have sounds that are similar, trouble distinguishing between similar sounds, difficulty carrying conversations with others, and difficulty concentrating.
Auditory processing disorder and dyslexia share many of the same symptoms. For example, decreased verbal memory is associated with both conditions. However, dyslexia is a problem with processing language while auditory processing disorder is a problem with sound recognition. Auditory processing disorder is not a cause of dyslexia; nor does dyslexia cause auditory processing disorder.
To recap, dyslexia is a specific language disorder that leads to problems with reading. Auditory processing disorder, or central auditory processing disorder, is a neurological disorder that leads to problems with interpreting and understanding auditory information. Neither dyslexia nor auditory processing disorder is linked to intelligence. Symptoms of dyslexia include decreases in phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed. Symptoms of auditory processing disorder include decreases in verbal memory, the ability to carry conversations, and trouble distinguishing sounds.