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helping students with auditory processing

5 Classroom Accommodations for Students with Auditory Processing Disorder

March 22, 2024
Students with auditory processing disorder often struggle in the noisy (and sometimes chaotic) environment of the classroom.

Since most classroom instruction is spoken, students with auditory processing disorder can be at a real disadvantage. The problem is not their intellect, it’s processing complicated instructions in an environment where the odds are stacked against them – lack of clarity of voice, their distance to the person speaking, competing noises – all affect their ability to parse and process sounds.

How can educators help these students? We’ll look at five accommodations educators can make for students with auditory processing disorders. Students will thrive and teachers will know their efforts are making a difference.

1. Speak as clearly as possible

Clarity of voice is very important for children with APD. For students with APD in the classroom, speech that is not articulated deliberately and clearly is as hard to understand as a person speaking while covering their mouth. Here’s some things educators can do to improve clarity of voice: 

auditory processing speak clearly
  • Speak more slowly.
  • Use a microphone to amplify your voice.
  • Face the student with APD when talking to them, especially when giving them personal instructions.
  • Reduce the amount of background noise and echo present, such as music, fans, or even open windows letting outside sounds in.

2. Engage multiple senses

Engaging multiple senses can make it much easier for students to understand instruction. It leverages dual coding – a powerful concept in learning that suggests we remember and process information better when it’s presented in multiple formats.

helping students with auditory processing visual aids

Here are some ways to implement this kind of multimodal instruction:

  • Visual aids: Educators can use visual cues such as text on the blackboard, diagrams, and visual demonstrations to reinforce what they are teaching orally.
  • Personalised compensatory strategies: Teachers can provide written copies of instructions for students who have difficulty following verbal instructions.

3. Use the right communication strategies for students with Auditory Processing Disorder

It’s not just about having the right volume and clarity while speaking; educators can make some simple tweaks to make sure they are using the right communication strategies for students with auditory processing.

auditory processing gestures
  • Nonverbal cues: Be conscious of  using body language, facial expressions, and gestures to emphasise meaning and help students understand instructions. Pointing to items you are speaking to, raising eyebrows when asking a question – these are great ways to add an extra layer of comprehensibility to your speech.
  • Change what you say: Shorten sentences, break up instructions into smaller chunks,  and slow down your rate of speech to make it easier for students with APD to process the information.
  • Check for understanding: Ask students to repeat the main points or summarise the instructions to make sure they understand.
  • Avoid dividing attention: Teachers should not ask students with APD to write and listen at the same time, as this can create a high cognitive load – sort of like running too many apps on your computer at once. Writing is very cognitively demanding, so it can divert attention away from listening and understanding the auditory information. Instead, provide alternative methods of note-taking, such as allowing students with APD to record lectures or giving them written materials in advance.

3. Be patient, show understanding, and collaborate

Teaching students with APD requires patience, as progress takes time. Auditory processing disorder is also ‘invisible’, so it takes compassion and effort to truly understand. Understanding the unique challenges of students with APD, such as difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, is essential. Parents want to work with you for better outcomes for their children, so collaboration between you, the educator, and the student’s parent(s) is essential for consistent support. This supportive network fosters the student’s growth and development.

helping students with auditory processing be patient

If you, as an educator, have found a specific teaching strategy works well with a student with APD, share that knowledge with the child’s parents. If the student’s parents share insights about how to best communicate for understanding with their child, take it onboard and include it in your teaching workflow.

Our Auditory Processing Info Pack offers a deep dive into how teachers can help students with auditory processing. You can get yours here.

5. Train auditory processing with technology

The above suggestions can make a big difference to students with auditory processing disorder. However, none of these suggestions are a treatment for APD, they are compensatory strategies.

The explosion in educational technology in recent years means educators and parents can leverage these tools to directly train the skills that underpin auditory processing.

fast forword Auditory processing speed

Sonic Learning offers programs specifically designed to improve auditory processing skills. The right program for your student depends on their specific needs.

Here are some programs we use to train auditory processing skills:

  • Fast ForWord: This program rewires the brain for better listening, while also improving memory, attention, sequencing, and comprehension.
  • Cogmed: This program focuses on boosting working memory.

If you’d like to know how to use Fast ForWord or any of our programs to help your students, feel free to book a free phone consultation.

Helping students with auditory processing disorder is a team effort

It’s a challenge to help students with auditory processing disorder, but you’re not alone! These accommodations create a positive learning environment for students with APD. However, if you’re after further ideas or want to directly address the root of the processing difficulties, Sonic Learning can help. Our specialised programs train the brain for better listening and overall cognitive performance.

Reach out today to learn more! Book a free consultation to discuss your students’ needs and explore how our solutions can help them thrive.

CAPD APD auditory processing disorder Info pack

Download APD info pack

Find out how to best help a student with APD, how to understand your child’s test results, and how Fast ForWord can help.

Fast forword

Learn about the Fast ForWord online program

Learn how teachers can help students with Fast ForWord auditory processing training.

Book a free phone consult

This free telephone consultation can help to answer any questions you have about our services. At Sonic Learning we are all experienced teachers and health professionals so parents tend to find it very beneficial to be able to discuss their concerns and receive guidance from our team.

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