How to Support Auditory Discrimination Disorder

Auditory discrimination disorder affects one’s ability to detect, interpret, or respond to everyday sounds. It is one of the eight subtypes of Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD) and one of many manifestations of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Learn more about SPD and its subtypes here.

See below for some ways to identify and support discrimination challenges.

Those with Auditory Discrimination Disorder May:

  • Speak too loudly or too softly.
  • Appear unresponsive or confused when given verbal directions.
  • Take longer than usual to process and respond to verbal directions.
  • Be unable to distinguish between background and foreground noises.
  • Have difficulty distinguishing between similar sounding words (cat, rat, sat).

How to Support Auditory Discrimination Disorder:

  • Stand directly in front of your child when giving verbal directions or asking a question. Give him/her extra time to process and respond to what you’ve said.
  • Break complicated instructions down into small, simple steps and allow your child to complete each step each before moving on to the next.
  • Teach your child to use visual cues, such as stop signs, flashing lights, or children lining up at the door for a fire drill to stay safe and know what to do next.
  • Work with your child’s teachers on ways to reinforce and revisit key concepts. Consider incorporating presentations, audio recordings, and typed notes/outlines.
  • Play games to practice telling the difference between similar sounding words. (“Ball and fall—are these the same or different? Now you choose two words and try to trick me.”)

Keep in mind that no two children are exactly alike, and most people exhibit both seeking and avoiding behaviors from time to time. If you think your child might be suffering from sensory processing issues, you should seek a professional assessment. The STAR Institute’s Treatment Directory is a great resource that can help you find therapists, doctors, and community resources in your area.

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