Dyspraxia and Auditory Processing
Sorry it’s been a while since my last blog post! I’ve been so busy with uni, but anyway, I’ve finally had the chance to write a new post.
So, dyspraxia and auditory processing. This is something which I’ve only really found out about fairly recently. I knew I found particular things hard of course, but what I didn’t know was that it was all part of ‘auditory processing’ – which is, to put it simply, the way in which we process sound.
Coincidentally, I did also have trouble with my hearing when I was younger. At about the age of seven I had to have an operation where grommets were inserted. There is one particular conversation I can remember, after the operation, which I now know is related to auditory processing (but at the time it just seemed funny!). Someone asked me “So did you find the operation helped?” to which I answered “Pardon?”. I honestly wasn’t joking, but at the same time I did actually hear what she said. I even remember thinking, “But I did hear what she said – it just took me longer”. What I now realise is that it was related to auditory processing.
So although I heard what she said, I just wasn’t able to process it straight away. I said “Pardon?” because I hadn’t processed it yet, but by the time she repeated it I had processed it. This is something that I’d quite often do, but I’d never really properly understood it. For that reason, I’d never put it down to dyspraxia before either – I thought it was just me! I would even say to some people “Pardon?” followed by “Oh no don’t worry I realised what you said” – which is quite amusing!
It wasn’t until I went for my Needs Assessment as part of my Disabled Students’ Allowance, a couple of years ago, that the needs assessor mentioned it. She said that it’s related to auditory processing and it is quite common amongst individuals with dyspraxia. All those years of saying “Pardon?”, when I actually had heard people, suddenly made sense!
Most of the time I don’t actually point out to people that I did hear what they say – I think that would seem a bit strange! So quite a few people probably think I have very bad hearing from the amount of times I say “Pardon?”! If it’s someone I know really well though, who knows I have that particular difficulty with processing, then I will sometimes point it out and kind of laugh about it.
Despite the fact that I’d been told it was related to dyspraxia, I hadn’t actually heard anyone else mention it. Until one day I was browsing through facebook and saw someone on a dyspraxia facebook group mention it – with lots of comments saying “Me too!” Some parents said that they felt their child said “Pardon?” deliberately in order to give themselves more time to process what is being said. Personally, I do that ocassionally – I find it much easier to just pretend you didn’t hear what someone said than to point out you need more processing time! But most of the time when I ask someone what they said it’s before actually realising that I did hear them, I just didn’t process it quickly.
There are other aspects to auditory processing too. There’s the fact that it can be difficult to block out background noise. This could affect a range of situations – from concentrating on work while there’s music in the background to concentrating on a conversation when there’s other noise/conversations in the room. Also it affects taking lecture notes. For me, this isn’t a major one, it’s more my concentration that affects this. I definitely have improved a lot in making lecture notes compared to the beginning of university. I do quite often write a word that’s similar to the one I intended to write though – for example I’ll write something like ‘controversial’ instead of ‘confidential’! It can even affect following a conversation, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs this is something I find particularly more difficult in bigger groups of people. Another example is when there’s a lot of information at once – this is linked to short term memory too, but to get the information into our memory in the first place we have to be able to process it. So often we find things need to be broken down.
When googling dyspraxia and auditory processing, I did see something about a completely different condition called “Auditory Processing Disorder” and to be honest I’m still slightly confused about it and how much overlap there is with dyspraxia and what would be classed as sufficient for a separate diagnosis etc. But auditory processing definitely seems to be something that lots of dyspraxics struggle with anyway. I know this blog post has been very specific – there may even have been some dyspraxics who have read this and have found they can’t relate to it at all (again, everyone is different!). However, it’s something I didn’t know much about until recently so I thought I’d blog about it in case it helps anyone else to read about it (that and the fact that I love blogging anyway too!)