Hearing issues in class
A leading audiologist says children are being wrongly labelled as disruptive and badly behaved because they can’t hear instructions in the modern classroom.
Wellington audiologist Richard Bishop specialises in working with children with auditory processing disorder (APD) and says modern flexible classroom spaces are ‘‘hostile auditory environments’’ for some students.
While Bishop says collaborative teaching spaces where dozens of children and several teachers all work together in one space have their advantages, they are poor listening environments.
APD sufferers have difficulty listening but don’t have a problem with hearing. Instead their brain has difficulty extracting information from sound.
Bishop says it is believed the disorder could affect up to 10 per cent of children, with boys affected at twice the rate of girls, but that largely referred to clinical cases and in his opinion underestimated the problem.
‘‘When I grew up primary schools were very different and it was a case of children sitting up and shutting up.
‘‘It wasn’t difficult to listen in that environment.’’
Children with APD hear every sound at the same volume, making it difficult to decipher instructions in the classroom.