Sometimes children with a learning disability behave or respond like they have hearing loss. The pathways to the brain are not well developed in children, and sometimes their behavior can be misunderstood as not paying attention or not following directions when they can’t follow along with the rules of the classroom.
Elena Ballezzi, Au.D., (right) Bacharach audiologist and director of Bacharach’s Somers Point Hearing Center specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children with central auditory processing disorder. According to Elena, a person diagnosed with central auditory processing disorder does not process information correctly. Elena explained, “We not only hear with our ears, but also with our brain. The ears and the brain need to work as a unit for the successful transmission of information. The ears are a vessel that connects to the brain and everything needs to be functioning smoothly for us to process sound normally.”
Children with this condition frequently have trouble paying attention and remembering information presented to them orally. They often have problems carrying out multi-step directions, poor listening skills and low academic performance.
“Patients with central auditory processing disorder need more time to process information and usually have difficulty with reading comprehension, spelling and vocabulary.”
Elena works very closely with families’ doctors to come up with an accurate diagnosis. It can be very complex because, many times, children with central auditory processing disorder also have other learning-related issues.
Children over the age of seven are good candidates to be tested for central auditory processing disorder. A complete hearing evaluation is conducted to determine that there is nothing medically wrong such as an ear infection or another condition that could be treated medically. In addition, Elena conducts a battery of five tests that are presented orally using a CD, each focusing on a different area. These tests help to determine listening readiness and speech skills.
Based on the results of the testing, Elena determines the issue and develops a treatment program. Many times, she recommends preferential seating in the classroom. Other times, she suggests the use of personal technology such as having the teacher wear a lapel microphone linked to a student’s headset. There are also game applications that the child can use on smart devices such as the iPhone, iPad or Kindle to improve their skill set.
Elena said, “We work to train the patient’s auditory skills and try to teach them strategies to better function in the classroom and at home. Frequently we see dramatic improvement in just a few years’ time.”
Bacharach Hearing Center specializes in the following areas:
Complete evaluation services
· Auditory brainstem evoked response testing
· Otoacoustic emissions testing (OAE)
· Custom hearing aids
· State-of-the-art digital technology
· Assistive listening devices
· Central auditory processing evaluations
· Computerized balance testing
· Education and support groups