What is Auditory Processing Disorder? It is a condition, most often recognised in children, when the sufferer has difficulty in separating and ordering the sounds, he or she, hears. We hear a huge variety of sounds and the brain must process these sounds, hopefully making sense of them. Recognising noises which belong to the immense variety of things and beings in the world and placing them in an understandable order. Our brains use sound to process unbelievable amounts of information. Spatial Processing Disorder is another name for this condition.

The recognition of a particular sound allows our brains to make sense spatially of our place in the world. Through sounds it locates the positioning of things, near and far. If these sounds cannot be separated as near or far it makes processing information difficult if not impossible. Think of language, the spoken word, and how vital it is to perceive the order and emphasis put on certain sounds to effectively deliver and receive oral language. If a child has problems in this area, how is, he or she, going to be able to learn anything in a classroom? How are social skills going to be learnt in the playground, if the child, cannot hear certain sounds, or differentiate between them? Sensory Processing Disorder is yet another name for this condition.

Is Auditory Processing Disorder on the increase or is it being over-diagnosed? Our awareness of the condition is relatively recent, with diagnosis first occurring in the mid nineteen nineties. It is, I think, natural to see things more often when they have just been recognised and named. Children have been struggling with learning at school since we first created schools and made them attend. Parents have been concerned about their children, especially when their children have struggled at school, for a similar period of time. We, as a community, seek to identify problems and try to rectify them; they are all good inclinations. The advent of the auditory processing disorder clinic is a positive societal progression. I would also posit that there is a far greater variety of unnatural sounds and noises than ever before; more background noises in our urban areas. Machines and technology are making more and more noises; and our children are playing more with technology than with the natural world. Is it any surprise that APD would be on the rise?

Anything that helps our children learn and helps them process reality is going to be useful. Anything that contributes to our understanding of how our human brains work is going to be a force for good. I do have one caveat, however, and that is to beware of the inclination to categorise and classify humans according to narrow definitions of what is wrong with them; what is not working at its optimal standard. See the whole being rather than any label affixed to them by society, or professionals working on our behalf.