When The Brain Can’t Hear


When the Brain Can't Hear – Unraveling The Mystery of Auditory Processing Disorder – Teri James Bellis, Ph.D. (A Book Review)


Bellis introduces the subject of Auditory Processing Disorder by telling her own story of APD acquired as a result of a car collision. Then she tells the story of a variety of individuals giving many aspects of APD as well as the individuals affected– male and female, but mostly male. Plus it spans the different ages – from young to elderly. Next, Bellis introduces principles based on the “science and theory of APD” related to other functions of the brain:

· APD is really a dysfunction of the central auditory system – from ear to the brain – input received by the brain, but not the function of the ear as in a hearing loss.

· Skills that are still important – hearing, thinking and attention. These can magnify the problem.

· APD does not account for every language and learning problem.

1. Auditory Processing and Spelling – being able to discriminate sounds is essential to learning spelling. Young children who do not write / spell in a predictable way using phonics may be a red flag for APD. Rather than writing phonetically a child with APD would demonstrate “acoustic confusions” – sounds that are confused due to sound or duration. (Classic examples: b, d, g, p, t, k) An individual with this difficulty may have slurred speech.

2. Auditory Processing and Reading – Skills required for reading: phonological awareness; sight-word reading; word attach vs. phonics. Difficulties in these areas may be an indication of APD. “disorders in the portion of the brain that connects the two hemispheres – the corpus callosum and related structures – can impair the association aspect of sound-symbol association.” P. 41 Have a child read a Dr. Seuss book, such as Cat in the Hat or Hop on Pop and ask yourself these questions:


a) Does the child read short words automatically – to, and, the etc.

b) Does the child resort to sounding out each and every word? If so – sight word reading is difficult.

c) If a word appears frequently and by the end the reader knows the word, he is adding it to sight word list.

d) If a child notices that there are many rhyming words and responds by sound out the initial sound, word attack skills are emerging.


3. Auditory and Receptive Language – it is difficult to distinguish an auditory discrimination problem and receptive language difficulties. Individuals with good language skills can better compensate for an auditory processing deficit than one without those skills.


4. Auditory Processing and Speech Production – There is a direct correlation between how well one processes auditory input and the ability to produce those sounds.

Teri James Bellis tells the story of a wide variety of individuals and how they are dealing with life. At Unlocking Learning Potential, we look for missing pieces in development and teach parents activities designed to stimulate and train the brain to function.

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