There are two kinds of processing deficits: Language Processing Deficits and Auditory Processing Deficits. Language Processing is a person's ability to process, interpret and attach meaning to information that is heard. People with processing disorders typically have normal hearing as well as intelligence. Their Speech/language abilities are also within normal limits for their age. Processing is a neurological activity not a behavior and it occurs in a progression. The first part of processing is the perceived sound signal by the outer ear. Next, sound waves travel through the middle and inner ear to the auditory nerve. The signal then travels from the auditory nerve through the brain stem to the upper cortex. In the upper cortex language information can be attached to the signal. If the signal does not get to the cortex intact then there is a central auditory processing concern. If the signal gets the cortex intact and there is a problem attaching language and meaning to it then there is a language processing problem.
Language Processing Deficits are characterized by students who often exhibit delayed responses and use fillers (i.e. "um"). Often they will respond "huh" when asked a question and will request repetition of question and/or previously reviewed material. They may have word retrieval problems. They demonstrated an inconsistency in learning and benefit from consistent review. The misuse of words that have similar sounds (i.e. "run" and "one") is also frequently noted. In addition, memory and recall difficulties for previously learned material is noted.
Auditory Processing Deficits are characterized by students who have difficulty with following verbal directions or hearing in background noise. Students may have a short auditory attention span as well as poor auditory recall and memory. If is is suspected that a child has a Auditory Processing Deficit, Speech and Language testing will be completed as well as psycho-educational testing. If the Pupil assistance Team (PAT) is in agreement an outside referral is placed to BOCES II for a Central Auditory Processing (CAP) evaluation. Central Auditory Processing deficits can only be diagnosed by an Audiologist.
Within the classroom children with processing deficits will often have difficulty following verbal or written directions as well as correctly sequencing information. Poor recall and comprehension of stories, curriculum and concepts is noted. Students may have poor organization of information as well as memory deficits. Great difficulty with listening tasks which is seen in their poor listening comprehension skills.
Therapy for processing disorders can focus on teaching of multiple strategies which include various memory and organizational strategies. Preview of classroom curriculum which focuses on vocabulary and concepts is also beneficial. Repetition and rephrasing of information related to the curriculum is also completed.
Note: A child with ADD/ADHD will have some difficulties with processing skills, but the problem occurs at a different location within the brain.
Some information was obtained from "The Source for Processing Disorders," by Gail J. Richards, c. 2001, LinguiSystems, Inc.