The effect of Auditory Processing Disorder on children

Hearing loss and Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) are invisible health complications that, when untreated, can have a detrimental effect on a child’s emotional, social, and educational development. While Elysia’s story is not uncommon, unfortunately, these issues, particularly APDs, often go undetected, seeing children struggle through their early years and having a lasting impact on their later life.

Elysia is a caring 10-year-old girl who has had hearing loss for most of her life.

Her hearing loss was first diagnosed when Elysia was in pre-primary after being treated by a speech therapist from an early age for speech delays. Elysia’s teachers began noticing she could not work independently and would seek comfort in always having the teacher close as she was unclear on what she was supposed to do. It became clear that Elysia was strugglingly to hear clearly, causing difficulty in understanding the task at hand.

When she would return from school, the exhaustion caused by putting so much effort into trying to listen and hear throughout the day would lead to her isolating herself and playing alone.

After seeking treatment and being fitted with a hearing aid and Roger Focus device from Hearing Australia, Elysia’s mother, Janelle, noticed an enormous difference in her ability to hear more clearly and the effort she needed to understand her teachers at school. However, Elysia’s ability to learn, hold attention, and verbal comprehension skills were still suffering. The way Elysia thinks and expresses herself often differs from what may be assumed as ‘normal’, often missing social cues and misunderstanding those around her. This makes it difficult for her to fit in with her peers despite being very sweet and personable. In social settings, she gravitates to and connects with younger children more than her peers, mainly when young toddlers are around, bringing out her very caring side, always wanting to look after them.

Janelle was determined to decipher the underlying cause and eliminate any other issues holding Elysia back. In this pursuit, she bought her to Ear Science Institute Australia’s Lions Hearing Clinic, one of the few services in WA that offer diagnosis and rehabilitation for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD). The assessment confirmed the presence of an APD, and Elysia will commence treatment in due course.

‘’I really believe treatment and research is essential, the more we know, the more we can do. Thinking back on where we came from before we realised Elysia had hearing loss, we really didn’t know much about how to help. For Auditory Processing Disorders, in particular, not enough people understand what it is, what causes it and how to help. There are so many children struggling with the disorder and in order to better support them, we need to know more.

I want to offer Elysia every opportunity I can. She has the ability to go to university and be really successful in her life, but I know there are a lot of challenges she will need to face to get there. She has an amazing memory and the ability to achieve great things, she just needs encouragement and support to motivate her to work to get there’’ said Janelle.

Despite Elysia’s challenges, she continues to love life like any ten year old should. She is a friendly, confident young girl who loves spending time with her friends, especially those in similar circumstances when she attends peer engagement days at sensory school and her dance classes.

READ MORE | Hearing Loss in Children