Possible Processing Disorder

Updated on September 21, 2011
R.C. asks from San Diego, CA
34 answers

My seven year old son is constantly saying "What did you say?" or "I didn't hear you". He also repeats what he thought he heard and it is often incorrect(and almost always has a negative message). I have had his hearing tested and I have had him tested for ADHD and other possible behavioral issues (which were all negative). Has anyone had this experience? I am wondering if he has a speech processing disorder which causes him to not understand what is being said to him. He has also remarked to me that his best friend talked so much he couldn't understand him. He is above average in math and just a little below in reading and average in spelling. I am worried that if I don't do something about this, it will be an issue for him for the rest of his life.

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So What Happened?

I am so grateful to everyone who responded. It's nice to know that my feelings/intuition are justified. My husband and I have decided to file an IEP with our local school (since my child attends a private school) and work on getting an assessment through them. Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories and advice.

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D.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello. I am a first grade teacher. I'm not an expert on speech processing disorders. But, the best thing to do is if you're in a public school, have him referred to the speech pathologist. They will do testing. Just keep on top of it. The school will do something if you are the one requesting and not the teacher. Best of luck.

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C.K.

answers from San Diego on

As a former teacher and now a SAHM of a 4 and 2 year old, with #3 on the way, my knee-jerk reaction is that he wants attention. Children who aren't receiving the attention they need (every child varies)will resort to negative tactics. Don't take it personally, if this is the case, just realize he has greater needs, perhaps.
Good luck

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E.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi. My son os on second grade and we just had the school do some testing and they found that he has an auditory processing problem. They were able to give me some tools to help him get through it. He too is very good at math but struggles in a lot of other areas. If he is in school, tell them you want him tested for processing and see what they say.

E.

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D.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.

I have a 3 year old daughter who just before the age of 2 years was diagnosed speech delay...I always questioned with her therapists is something else causing the speech delay. She started special ed school last sept. Again I questioned what is causing the speech delay. Something told me the speech delay was the end result of something else. Last week in discussing it with her speech therapist and teachers she is not processing what is being said. Her speech has come along way but something still isn't right. Now that I have explained that...I have the same problem. Someone can say something to me everyone else gets it...I don't or the way they say it, it will have a different meaning. They can change 2 words in the same sentence around ....and then it makes perfect sense...I've learned to say I don't understand. Or explain it again...I would ask your son when this happens shall I explain it a different way or give him an example. See if he can give you an example..I've learned thru my daughters therapy that her and I just process what we hear differently. Just a side note..the way I look at life situations are black and while..very rarely grey..I have close friends that I will say to them show me the grey...Ask him simple questions like, how do you feel about say bedtime...or food that he doesn't like. Is he very adiment about his anwser. does he disagree with you and really doesn't see your side...This might give you an insight to the way he processes infomation or thinks and hears.

If this doesn't work or give insight I'd ask your pediatrition.

D.

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K.B.

answers from San Diego on

See if his school can get him an "across the board" testing. Check to see if your "health plan" has a school or learning disability "area" in the pysch/soc dept for "complete" testing. It does sound like he has some kind of "processing disorder."
Best of luck,
K. B

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C.N.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear R.,

Yes, I would continue looking for someone to talk to who will really listen to you and take this seriously. You have the right idea about needing to get to the bottom of this. Try a psychologist, and not a school psychologist either - look in the yellow pages and call the American Medical Association in your local area for guidance about finding a child psychologist.

....and what about some of those great private schools who help children learn to study and so forth. My dear friend worked with one of the for a while and she said that they were really competent and serious about helping children.

C. N.

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S.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Try researching a disorder called audio perception disorder, which can sometimes be accompanied by visual perception disorder. I suffer from both along with ADHD. Meaning that things I hear and see do not get processed properly in my head often resulting in the exact problem you are having with your son. It has taken years of therapy and patience, but I am a finely functioning adult with a steady job today. Not saying he has this mind you, just something for you to look into. :) Good luck

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

This might be a little basic, but has your doctor looked in his ears? My daughter is just 2 1/2 and we recently took her in as she has an ear infection. However, her ear was so filled with wax that the doctor could barely see in there. Have you tried those drops, or even peroxide in his ears, to make sure there is no wax buildup? It's just an idea, but you never know if it might be that simple as that. Some people produce alot more wax, and that might be impeding his hearing. It might be worth a try!

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J.Y.

answers from Los Angeles on

It is possible he is telling you the truth. If you asking him
over tv set on or computer games or just distraction in the
home or yard he may not hear you or understand. Just make
your comment to him up close and with eye contact in a gentle
but firm voice....he will get it. If you have to yell then
you know he is telling you the truth, kids hate being yelled
at, they truly want mom not to yell or get mad because they
did not get it the first time. And again..7 years old sounds
like nothing abnormal here.
(just look back when you were little)

My Best

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V.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

This seems like a silly question, but did your son stand and walk before 12 months old? If his crawling time was limited, this will deeply affect communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Did he ever have a very high fever (over 103F), have a traumatic birth (C-section, forceps, vacuum), did he ever have a concussion or fall from a bed of high chair. Any of these could cause processing problems especially if you have tested his hearing and so forth. It woul dbe in your best interest to consult your local chiropractor to have his nervous system evaluated for intereference between the body and the brain.
If you need a referral, please contact me. V.: [email protected]____.com

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S.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

HI R.:

It sounds like an occupational therapy assessment might be in order to rule out a possible auditory processing issue. You may also wish to consider a speech therapy evaluation to rule out a receptive language problem. If those come back negative, you could pursue psychological/psychoeducational assessment to determine the possible presence of a language-based learning disability. You are definitely on top of things-nice catch Mom! All the best.

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A.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

R.,

If you are concerned over any developmental, or processing, or learning disorders, you should request an IEP through the school. That is an Individualized Educational Plan. The process for doing this in theory is simple. You often have to stay on top of your school to be sure that they meet the legal time lines, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. When you request an IEP meeting you have to do it in writing. So you would give a letter to the School counselor and express your concerns. (It is a good idea to talk with your sons teacher before you submit your letter and site any similarities that he or she notices in you letter as well.) The school will call you and set up an initial meeting. This meeting will include you, the teacher, the resource teacher and the school psychologist.Sometimes the principal is invited. The psychologist and teacher will let you know that they have 45 days to evaluate your son and report back to you. (Take a calendar and mark the 45th day from your meeting while you are sitting there. This will let them know that you expect to sit down together before that date.) During the meeting you will discuss what types of testing they will do for your son. If you think they are missing anything, bring it to their attention and request that they test for those things as well. They will write this on a form. Make sure everything is there before you sign the form. This is important. Following the testing, they will sit down with you and your husband and give you an accounting of what they have found. They will make recommendations according to their findings. These recommendations will include things like speech therapy, resource classes, assistance with tests, or if it is severe enough you can request that he have an aid in the classroom with him to be sure that he is understanding the material he is being taught.You will then sign another form which will actually be his educational plan and you will have two meetings per year to see that he is progressing according to the goals that you and the staff set for him.. These goals will include sucsess at school and home.

If you have concerns you should follow your instinct. IF the school doesn't provide you with answers that are adequate, you can request that you get another opinion from the county psychologist that works for the school. There are many options that you have available to you that you will not be told about because schools don't like to spend the money. They are free to you. They belong to you and you have the right to acess and use them. If you need further assistance please do not hesitate to reach me by private email. I have extensive experience with the special education departments in public schools and am more than happy to help a child get what he needs!

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C.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Who did the testing for the ADHD? If it was the school district then request a second opinion from an OUTSIDE consultant. If the school district gives you any flack then you need to consult a local support group or an attorney. My son had problems from an early age with chronic ear infections, ruptured ear drums, allergies, etc. He was a nonverbal three year old and qualified for special education. His speech problems were thought to be related to his hearing problems, which were corrected by the age of four. HOWEVER, he had other problems, such as gross motor skills problems, lacking of social skills, etc. THe SCHOOL DISTRICT misdiagnosised him. We finally got a diagnosis from a private psychologist that specialized in children. It turned out that my son was high functioning autistic with ADD (without hyperactivity) and his hearing problem just made his ability to speak worse. He still has fine motor skill problems as an adult, but he is functioning well as adult and attending college. DO NOT RELY ON THE SCHOOL DISTRICT! They are not always looking out for the student but thinking of $$ first. Some districts are better than others. How do I know? I worked for a private psychologist who specialzed in disputes with school districts all over Southern California. I had all my battles in the 1980s amd 1990s so I don't know the current support groups in your area, but I bet you can find out online. Good luck.

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P.B.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

If you think it is a processing problem, I would take him to Lindamood or a learning center where they will test your son and see how he is processing. My friend had her child and herself tested and they did see that there were processing issues. Then the center will give you a plan of action based on your results. I think you did say they tested his hearing. His ears are full of fluid are they. That would affect his hearing and speech.

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J.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

I do the same thing. Its not that I didn't hear what was said; my brain just doesn't process things as quickly as my ears do sometimes. I was diagnosed with ADHD a little over a year ago, and I have read that that is a common symptom of ADHD. Not saying he has that, but maybe get a 2nd opinion?? I don't know how they tested him for that, but there is one test that many psychiatrists swear by. I can't remember the name of it, but the problem with that is that some ADHD people actually do better with it, since it is such a controlled test and it is almost fun in a way; and controlled environments, time limits, things that are very structured are actually treatment for ADHD, so the test often produces false negatives. Othat than that, it may just be normal 7 year old behavior. I'm not sure where you have taken him to be tested, but if you haven't already you may want to consider a pediatric psychiatrist. Pediatricians are fabulous-I couldn't live without mine- but their specialty is in pediatric medicine, and psychiatry is a very huge field that they often have limited knowledge of.

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N.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am a mother with two sons (6 and 12) and a teacher. I own a tutoring company and see this periodically (esp. with boys) At this point, maybe you should think about working on his 'listening skills' and do some one-on-one work with him in this area. It is a skill that he needs to develop, as listening is a crucial component to classroom learning. Barring any other problems (like hearing, which you have had tested), focusing on listening skils would benefit him for the long run. - N. ([email protected]____.com)

- N.

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C.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi
If you have checked him out physically and everything is fine I would say you just might be on the money with this one.
It sounds like a processing order to me.
I have a son with autism and work with many families who have children with different disorders.
Is there anything else about him that worries you?

Something you can try is having him read a story or book at his appropriate age level, ask him questions about what he has read and see if he answers them correctly.
Secondly, YOU read him something out loud, ask him questions about what was read and see if he answers correctly.
We all have different ways of learning.
He might be a visual learner. (For instance, he can follow a movie because the moving picture tells the story, but if you read the book of the movie to him out loud he couldn't follow it as well)
This by the way would describe not only my son but me!
Have you talked to his teacher? Does she notice anything.
All I can say is, a mother KNOWS. If you think something is going on. IT IS. Processing disorders can be helped, no worries!
Best,
C.

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S.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, there is such a thing as a processing problem. The ears work fine and the brain works fine but the connection between the two gets fuzzy. I am constantly having to look people in the face and can't hear anything in a noisy room. I have to ask people to repeat things or it takes a second or two for me to decifer what they said before I get it.
Talk to your doctor about it. My mom was evaluated last year and they told her that if caught in childhood there are things they can do to help but if you let it go it can't really be helped in adulthood.

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P.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

Have you had him tested by your school? If he attends a public school, request an assessment at that school. If he's at a private school he can still get an assessment at your local public school, but is not eligible for services there. At least you will get some answers. It's 60 days til he's assessed once the plan is signed so best to do it asap. Good luck.

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K.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son also displayed these kinds of symptoms when he was younger. He is now fourteen. We had him tested by a private speech therapist. It was a minimal test and did not get very specific but definately showed that he had an auditory speech delay. In other words, it would take him a few extra seconds to process what had been said to him. My concern at school was that he would still be processing what the teacher had just instructed the kids to do and then move on to the next instruction. All the while he would still be thinking of the first task when the teacher was already on task 2 or 3. Ask his teacher how he is at school also.Your son can be tested by the school system. You need to put your request in writing and submit it to his school just asking verbally is not always enough.

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M.C.

answers from Honolulu on

Yes, seek help - it couldn't hurt. My kids are small, but I had speech therapy for both of them for various reasons and I think that to err on the side of doing too much is always prudent, especially when they are using those skills to learn. Ask your ped and your son's school how to proceed.

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N.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son has a processing disorder and he is an Audio learner. With this disability you can be either an Audio or a Visual learner. Your son may be a Visual learner. My son can not clearly interpret from seeing written material but can clearly interpret from hearing something. You need to be sure that your school fully tests him through the School Psychologist. I will assume that you are in California and the law is that if you demand/request testing the school has 50 calendar days to comply. If you have him completely and fully tested you will get to the bottom of the problem and then you can have the school work on the issue specifically. I work for LAUSD so I know the laws and procedures. Good Luck.

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S.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.,
Actually, my grand daughter, who is now 14 almost 15, has this problem. She repeats back just what she thinks she heard said, just as you have described. We live in Southern California, and had gotten her an appointment with the County School Audiologist, who ran a complete diagnostic hearing test on her. It was discovered that she had a measureable hearing loss in one ear, which causes a problem with information being received to the brain in a straight forward way. We also had the same type of hearing test done at our HMO, and the findings were comparable. It isn't something that would require her to wear a hearing aid, though. She has ADHD, which she no longer takes medication for, and her school is aware of the issue. It is just important for her to sit in the front of the class room nearest to the teacher, so that she can have the best opportunity to hear what is being said. Good luck.

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M.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

You can get his tested for free through your school distrct. Both of my boys are special needs, ODC and ADHD and the school district was able to test them and assign them IEP's (individual education plans) to hopefully help with their education and future sucess.

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A.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.;

I have experienced the situation with my two children, one has ADHD and ADD. They have difficulty pronouncing words/letters. I have their pedetrican doctor to check their eyes and hearing, they seems okay. But the teacher recommended to have tested in the school program named Individual Educational Program at any school espcially if his reading and comprehension is not developing. He might have a mild austism or any disability which we don't know. Also you can request from his pedetrician doctor to send a recommendation from his school to have him tested in speech training program. The school won't recommend and say anything to the parents unless the doctor recommended it. We as a mother, we spend so much time with our children and we know if thing are not right. We have to do something for our child because no one else will care and take care of our child except ourself. I raised four children. My 25 yrs old is married and had daughter of 17 mths old , my 21 yrs son lived in NY and studied Game and Video Designer and that's the one who has ADHD but refused to take medication but he is very talented in Art. He is doing fine and doing well in school expecially he loved art so much that I challenged him to study art. I have 16 yrs old daughter who is also talented and already in Junior College and has a problem because I have her tested that one of her vein tha carry the message when you ask her to do is not working. I have to tell her 3/4 times before she will response but very bright daughter, she also played 5 musical instruments, she is also put in Gifted Child Program which recognized by the teacher and recommended to be tested in school. My 14 yrs old son is freshman in high school and played 5 musical instruments also. Your son seems to be talented but check it out because they might have some disability which you would like to help him now before he goes to higher grades. Good luck.

A.

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N.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son had that problem when he was 6. His ears weren't draining properly so he had to have tubes put in. Everything he heard was muffled so he mispronounced words and had a hard time hearing. Take him to an ear, nose & throat specialist to make sure before you take him anywhere else. He's fine now that did the trick and the surgery is simple.

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D.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am a speech pathologist and parent of 3 boys. I would recommend an evaluation for auditory processing. This can be done at the Hearing Conservation in Camarillo. You may need to have an assessment plan from his school, or a recommendation for it from his teacher, speech therapist or his pediatrician. HIs school probably doesn't want to do an evaluation because he is not falling far enough behind in his classwork. Good luck!

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S.B.

answers from Honolulu on

Hi!

I'm a speech-language pathologist. I would recommend that you have him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist; either at school or at a private clinic. They can do testing to help figure out what's going on. If his school won't pick him up for testing or treatment, you can talk to your Dr and ask for a referral to a speech-language pathologist; hopefully your insurance would pick up the expenses.

Good luck!

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R..

answers from Atlanta on

For effective, convenient and affordable instruction using the Lindamood-Bell® programs, consider R.. www.readingboosters.com

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K.Z.

answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter is age 6.5 and she does the same thing, but is well above average in reading and math. I don't think it's a cognitive function, it's probably a matter of child development/stage. They are just so into what they are processing at the moment that they don't register the information. My daughter often interupts me, and often says "let's talk about me." Part of the problem may just be the self-focus of the age.

If you're still concerned, speak to his teacher and indicate your concerns. It's always good to have another view of the situation.

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T.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have 3 girls and then a boy. Whole new world!! They don't hear things the way you say them, and they often do not understand them when they do hear them. I hope he will outgrow it, but then again I always nag my husband over the same thing!

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C.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am a Speech-language therapist and I would request to have your son evaluated by the Speech therapist at your son's school. From the information you shared he fits the description of a child with language processing difficulties.
good luck and be persistent!

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T.N.

answers from Santa Barbara on

R.- you may want to have your son tested for Auditory Processing Disorder. From what I understand this is a disorder where folks have a difficult time with listening skills and processing language. My husband suffers from it and we recently went through some preliminary testing with our 3 year old. Apparently this disorder begins manifesting itself around the age of you son. You may want to contact your school & pediatrician to see about having a county assessment for speech and hearing as a starting place. It may be that your son needs some speech therapy. Like your son my husband excels in math and does not read well- he has dislexia on top of it the APD. You can find information on Auditory Processing Disorder on line. Hang in there- the good new is he has already tested negative for behaviorial issues and has good hearing. I'm sure you can work with him and keep him where he needs to be in terms of learning with the right diagnosis and support team.

T.

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J.S.

answers from Honolulu on

Dear R. C.

I have a boy that showed those symptoms and I went through the same process, first thinking it was his ears, ADD, etc. The best thing you can do is have him tested for auditory processing difficulties as soon as you can. The hardest thing about this disorder is the impatience people show towards the child which make them feel badly. It is so helpful to know what the exact difficulty is especially for the teachers who usually give all directions orally. Once it was clear my son had this difficulty we all were given tools to make sure he "heard" what we were saying to him. The school should be able to set up the screening for him. My Boy is now 24 years old and had done very well in school, life etc but knowing this made his coping skills and ours a whole lot better.

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