Auditory Processing Difficulties

The Centre’s Speech Pathologists are trained to diagnose and treat auditory processing difficulties.

What is auditory processing?

 Auditory processing refers to what the brain does with the information it hears. Auditory processing is different to ‘hearing’.  A person can have normal hearing (measured with an audiometer during a hearing test), but have difficulties with auditory processing. Auditory processing skills include:

  • Sound localisation (knowing which direction a sound comes from)
  • Auditory discrimination (knowing that two sounds are different)
  • Auditory temporal processing (recognising rapid changes in sounds)
  • Auditory sequential processing (identifying the sequence of sounds)
  • Auditory memory (remembering sounds)
  • Auditory attention (focussing on sounds)

Does my child have auditory processing difficulties?

 A child with ‘normal hearing’ could have difficulties with auditory processing if he or she:

  • Is slow to respond to questions or follow instructions
  • Forgets complex instructions
  • Is easily distracted during listening tasks
  • Is better at listening in individual or small group situations than in large group situations
  • Has particular problems listening when there is a lot of background noise (for example, in the classroom or at the swimming pool) Confuses similar-sounding words (for example, 'comb' and 'cone') during listening tasks Has difficulties saying complex words (for example, says 'mazagine' for 'magazine')
  • Has difficulties ‘sounding out’ spelling and reading words
  • Has difficulties with dictation tasks


It’s important to realise that these difficulties can have other causes (for example, a child with a language delay or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder might show similar behaviours). 

Often several professionals (such as an audiologist, speech pathologist, educational psychologist and paediatrician) need to be consulted to determine whether or not a child has an Auditory Processing Disorder.

Contact us for more information about assessment and treatment of auditory processing difficulties.