"Auditory Processing" issue and Dr. Ross-Swain?

Our ten year old son may have auditory processing issues.  His teacher is recommending an assessment because he has trouble understanding verbal instructions and word recall, among other things.  For instance, I told him this morning that I put something in his backpack.  He called me from school saying he forgot it and I told him that I told him I put it in his backpack.  I don't know if he isn't listening or if there is a developmental or biological issue.  He doesn't "get" certain concepts at first and it will take some additional exposure for him to understand it.  Even then, he may not be understanding larger concepts.  I see these issues with him and frankly, I have had the same issues.  

His teacher says that the assessment will give us some indication of what the issue is.  If he does have an issue, he would be provided accommodations (i.e. provided new material prior to it being introduced in class so that he has additional time to comprehend it.)  But we are also worried that there will be some negative consequences (i.e.  schools may discriminate, it will make him feel insecure, etc.)

What was your experience with your child with getting an assessment and accommodations?  Also, do you have recommendations for professionals who do assessments?  Dr. Deborah Ross-Swain of the Swain Institute was recommended.  Does anyone have any thoughts about her.

Many thanks.

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One of my kids got a complete assessment, including an auditory processing assessment from Dr. Swain.  Dr. Swain is thorough, very bright, and compassionate.  Her report was very helpful.  She does a great job helping to “tease apart” different overlapping issues.  She is very good at explaining her testing and her findings.

Going through the testing really helped us to understand our kid, and allows us to be more supportive and understanding of what he can and can’t do.  Getting support from the schools is an entirely different thing, though.  A diagnosis of auditory processing disorder just allows our kid to sit near the teacher and his teachers are supposed to check in with him to see if he understands assignments.  In theory, he is supposed to get written directions and instruction, but this just never happens in reality.  

I definitely think it was worthwhile to get the testing done, but getting adequate support in school is still a challenge.

I would suggest you pursue an assessment to find out the issue your son is facing. It's scary and nerve wracking but better to know than be left in the dark and him struggling. Our daughter had a somewhat similar issue (verbal instructions sometimes wouldn't "register" with her) and she would exhibit brief (2 seconds or less) staring spells where she was "zoned out." After dismissing it and getting the same dismissal from teachers ("she sometimes has difficulty listening or with verbal instruction"), I requested an EEG from her pediatrician. The results from the EEG are that she was diagnosed with absence seizures. While we're only just beginning to walk this path of assessment and accommodations (we haven't gotten accommodations set up with her school yet), I think that you should do everything to advocate for your child and get him the ("extra") help he may need to support him thriving in school. I can empathize with your worry of discrimination or him being insecure but as parents, we wouldn't hesitate to request accommodations for a physical ailment (e.g. if our child was on crutches or a wheelchair) and I think pursuing non-visual issues that affect our children should also be taken in the same vein. Best of luck!

Our daughter's first-grade teacher thought she might have auditory processing issues because she didn't seem to hear.  Ultimately she was diagnosed with ADHD, and her life improved a lot with treatment.  It may be that getting a diagnosis seems like "labeling" your son, and that it could lead to problems.  Without a diagnosis, however, it will be very hard to help your child.  He will be more likely to decide that he is hopelessly stupid or lame on some global level, rather than disabled in a specific way that can be managed.  Teachers will be more likely to think he is willfully ignoring them (as they did with our daughter), rather than having trouble hearing and processing what he hears.  Other kids will be more likely to think he is weird or lame (as they did with our daughter).  As for discrimination, our daughter says that nobody has teased or mistreated her over having ADHD since she was diagnosed.


Our child was diagnosed as having CAPD.  Things that helped: seating up front.  Away from anything noisy. The best way Ive heard it described is 'the cocktail effect'. when you are at a cocktail party you can't tune out other sounds. Id also make sure your son is looking at you when you say something, keep it simple. Usually there's a dominant ear.(To find the dominant ear tell your son you think you hear a noise in the wall, see which ear he listens with.)

Processing more slowly is not an iq ussue. Some just need framing and more time. 

We did a couple rounds at the Swain center and they did help a bit. I think she sends the system to you home now so it may be less expensive. We also did Lindamood Bell which was a more tangible help.  From my perspective, I wish that I had one on one for our child with a speech therapist outside of the school district. It will help with identifying sounds and words.

I also found having a tutor to help front load, and just support, very helpful.

Most importantly, remember that you son will be fine. If you are a worrier, like me, its good to keep any of these types of conversations away from your son. Just my 2cents.

We found the special ed extremely unhelpful.  That said, all schools are different. You might take a look at Wrightslaw online.

We had my son evaluated last year and the audiologist determined he does have APD. It helped us understand a lot about his behaviors, interactions at school, etc.  As part of my son’s IEP, the school added some classroom supports like written instructions in addition to verbal. We went to SF Speech and Sound and thought they were great. They also have treatment services there, but we didn’t do that because of the distance from Berkeley. 

My younger kid, now in middle school, has a 504 plan.  We paid for an initial assessment at UC eye clinic for tracking and processing issues, then the school district paid for a comprehensive assessment.  It's a good thing to have a 504, it lets her sit closer to the teacher, it lets us communicate  with the teacher(s) at the beginning of the school year to  let  them know she is  not being defiant if she just stands there--she probably did not understand the instructions of what she is  supposed to  be doing.  It lets them know when several kids are  talking  in a group  she  is not going to be able to track everything they are saying.  Before this, we felt like her third grade teacher thought she was not a cooperative student who tried hard, but it was a learning disability.