Some KSU faculty members are responsible for helping treat kids with APD (auditory processing disorder); a condition which involves difficulties in processing sound waves entering through the ears. Based on sets of data they have gathered, the team uses methods that have produced similar positive results. The team includes not only staff, but also a few graduate students too.

Kids with APD sometimes go undiagnosed because in hearing tests they may do just fine – sounds may register well, or a sound may at least be heard, while words on the other hand may be processed in the mind as a garbled mess. Thus these children are effectively non-hearing, despite the fact that their ears work perfectly – it is the brain that is not performing its function in not processing sounds correctly.

So how are these children being helped? Understanding sounds that enter through the ear is a skill – the faculty is teaching kids skills that will help their brains learn to understand sounds heard. Pathologists in the fields of speech and hearing are now involved in the process of helping kids with APD, while in the past this fell squarely on the shoulders of audiologists, which isn’t entirely fair considering the fact that the problem is not with hearing ability itself but processing of sound.

Seven children between the ages of 8 and 14 have already been part of the program, in which a screening test helps the team determine the specific needs of each child, allowing them to tailor it specifically to their needs. What are some of the activities undertaken in the hour-long weekly sessions?

Firstly, training is given in phonetics, an important skill in enabling the brain to translate speech properly. Another training session involves pitting words against background noises, training the brain to pick out speech from other sounds in the environment. Finally, the focus shifts to phonemic synthesis – this involves putting the sounds together, and then differentiating between them to distinguish complete sounds from one another.

At the end of the program a follow-up test takes place to evaluate the progress that has been made. The results thus far have been promising – every child that has been in the program has seen improvement in each area focused on, and no worsening of the condition in areas that have not been treated. With this established the program is continuing, and perhaps other organizations will also begin to adopt this method of treatment.