By: Elyse Schultz M.A. CCC-SLP

CommuniKids had the pleasure of attending a two-day seminar presented by the talented and insightful, Lois Kam Heymann M.A, CCC-SLP. Mrs. Heymann presented on “Auditory Processing Disorder and Listening Challenges” in a school-age population. 

She has significant experience working with a variety of children with central auditory processing disorder ([C]APD) and coexisting diagnoses that contribute to listening difficulties. 

Listening Developmental Milestones

On day one of our seminar, Mrs. Heymann highlighted listening developmental milestones from birth to school-age children. Additionally, she reviewed initial indicators or at-risk behaviors presented in children with (C)APD or listening challenges. A child with listening challenges may include the following: 

  1. Difficulty hearing in noise
  2. Difficulty distinguishing between similar-sounding words or sounds
  3. Difficulty following directions,
  4. Poor reading and spelling skills
  5. Short attention span

Learning about these indicators and behaviors allows us as clinicians to better identify these challenges in our clients and select the appropriate evaluation tools for each child’s specific needs. This, in turn, informs our treatment plan and approach to therapy. 

A comprehensive evaluation with a battery of tests to assess the areas of auditory processing will take place to yield a diagnosis. Based on the areas of breakdown in the child’s communication, the clinician will determine a “top-down” or “bottom-up” approach to target the area(s) of difficulty. 

It is important to recognize that there are foundational skills required to achieve certain goals. For example, a child must first maintain auditory attention in order to learn new vocabulary or improve comprehension skills. This knowledge and information gathered from the evaluation and parent reportage will be the most efficient tools for planning successful intervention.

Treatment Models and Strategies for Auditory Processing Disorder

On our second day, it was time to start treating and planning sessions! Mrs. Heymann discussed treatment models, specific strategies, and materials that can be used during intervention. She provided valuable resources, techniques, and materials to address specific areas of difficulty. 

One of my favorite activities she shared with us involved the use of a book to improve listening skills. Mrs. Heymann taught us how to take a book filled with tons of auditory and visual information and manipulate the information during therapy to assist the client in tuning into salient information. 

She stressed the idea of meeting the child at their skill level and then fading cues to accomplish the end goal. For example, when retelling a story, provide sequential visuals and covering up one, then two, then three sequenced picture cards, and so on until the client has demonstrated story retell solely based on auditory input (i.e. visual input has been faded). Using this model of fading cues, a variety of goals can be targeted. 

Success at School

Lastly, Mrs. Heymann discussed school accommodations and how to set the child up for success by making seemingly small recommendations for classroom setup or teacher responses that can make all the difference! For example, she recommended assigning preferential seating in the classroom based on the child’s needs or utilizing a classroom or personal FM system depending on the child’s deficits. 

Lois Kam Heymann M.A, CCC-SLP provided the CommuniKids staff with a wealth of invaluable knowledge that we have and will continue to apply to the clients we treat. Her presentation has allowed us to expand upon our current work. Learning is an ongoing process and allows us to continuously build upon what we know and do to be even better clinicians. Our success is measured by our client’s success. With this continuing education, we can all be more successful!

Contact our team today for more information about auditory processing disorder and how we can help your child!