Suggestions for Children with Auditory Processing Difficulties

Suggestions for Children with Auditory Processing Difficulties

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Auditory processing difficulties are when children have trouble understanding and interpreting the spoken word.  It is not a problem with “hearing,” but a problem processing and understanding what they hear for functional use.  Child with difficulties in the area of auditory processing have difficulty following verbal directions, and may not always respond immediately when their name is called- especially in the presence of background noise.  This can interfere with a child’s ability to begin and complete tasks in a timely manner. Additionally, children can over respond to input which results in anxiety and melt downs when in a loud environment or when they hear loud unexpected sounds.  They may cover their ears when presented with a loud noise or when in a busy environment.  They may make noises so that they can attend to their own voices to help override the background noises occurring in their environment.

Some suggestions to try with a child who has difficulty with auditory processing:

  • Have classical music playing softly in the background or to use a white noise machine to override background noises
  • Offer noise-reducing headphones to decrease extraneous background noise and increase their attention
  • Distract child with preferred toy, blanket, book, video game etc. when you know they will be in a loud situation
  • Having a quiet place in the room, such as a book corner or a tent where child can go would also be helpful when they become over stimulated
  • Desk chairs could be put on carpeting or tennis balls could be added to the bottom of chairs to decrease extraneous background noise and increase attention
  • Practice situations where loud, unexpected noises may occur such as a fire alarm drill.  Do this at home where child is comfortable when they are expecting it and gradually prepare them for it to happen when they is not expecting it.
  • Give one direction at a time rather than the whole sequence of multi-step directions
  • Use short, simple, one-concept phrases to give directions
    • Resist the urge to elaborate
    • Repeat verbal directions as needed repeating them slowly, firmly and clearly
  • Establish eye contact before providing verbal directions and eliminate any potential sources or auditory distraction such as a television or radio on in the background
  • Give visual demonstrations as much as possible
  • In school, schedule classroom activities with high auditory processing demands at times when auditory competition is minimal such as when there are not other children transitioning in the hallways or outside at recess
  • Have the child repeat directions provided verbally back to you to insure they understand what is being asked of them
  • Practice following verbal directions during gross motor play such as following obstacle courses, playing Twister, etc.
    • Progress from one step directions, then to two, etc.


I am here to help!  Contact Jamie via phone or email anytime!


Jamie Jones, MS OTR/L