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Processing Disorders
The Auditory and Language Processing Continuum

In general, processing is the ability to interpret auditory information, to attach meaning to this interpretation and then to form an expressive response.  Processing is a neurological activity that occurs along a continuum that begins with the hearing sounds or spoken words (auditory signal) and ends with an oral response.  Along the way, (central) auditory processing and language processing occur in a logical and sequential progression with movement back and forth between the auditory components of the signal and the language features of meaning.  The diagram below has been adapted from various sources.




A processing disorder can happen at any point within the continuum (within the green boxes).  Thus, the challenge is to identify where along the continuum the processing breakdown occurs and to plan an intervention program that will meet the specific auditory and/or language processing needs.  An Auditory Processing Disorder and a Language Processing Disorder are not the same; each will affect learning differently and place a student at great risk academically.  Following the diagram above from left to right, once an auditory signal is heard (normal hearing is assumed), it travels from the Auditory Processing area to that area of the brain responsible for hearing, memory, language and learning (the transition point for processing represented by the center green box where Auditory Processing and Language Processing overlap).  If the information goes this far and is not interrupted, it is said that auditory processing is unimpaired.  However, if the auditory signal is distorted or compromised so that the brain receives incomplete information, a (Central) Auditory Processing Disorder is present.  An audiologist is the professional who diagnoses an Auditory Processing Disorder.  The Speech & Language Pathologist is usually the professional who treats Auditory Processing Disorders. 

Once the auditory signal reaches the center transition area of the Processing Continuum, the brain begins to attach, interpret and discover underlying meanings.    As processing progresses into the Language Processing area, interpretation continues in sequence with one skill building upon a previous skill adding increased complexity to the language in use.  The information is organized, associations with previous knowledge are made and this interpretation is stored with past sensory experiences during a progressive attachment of meaning (for example, “apple” is recognized as a word for a fruit that grows on a tree, has a stem and seeds, that can be red or green, that is like a pear but different from a pear, that is juicy and crunchy and that is used to make applesauce and Grandma’s pies).  Previous experiences and knowledge stores (visual, tactile, auditory experiences) work together to make interpretations through higher level processing.  The expected result is that all of this receptive processing for meaning be transformed into an oral response.  A Language Processing Disorder occurs when meaning is not attached accurately at any time during processing.  The Speech & Language Pathologist is the professional who diagnoses and treats Language Processing Disorders. 

Intervention for processing disorders must be based on accurate diagnosis that helps to differentiate between an Auditory and a Language Processing Disorder.  Constance Wieler has the expertise needed to sort through auditory processing evaluation results and is skilled in developing and executing therapy plans suited to the individual needs of each student.  Constance is a well trained in the treatment techniques for the varied types of auditory processing disorders and has experience using a multitude of programs and approaches to treating all disorders along the processing continuum.​

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