What Are Processing Disorders?
Some students struggle with processing disorders, and these are lesser-known learning disabilities that can show up in conjunction with dyslexia and ADHD, or even be missed because they are improperly diagnosed as other learning disabilities. The most common types of processing disorders are visual and auditory processing disorders.
Visual processing disorders affect a student's ability to process information through their eyes, and can cause issues with seeing an object's position in space. This can impact reading and math because both subjects rely heavily on being able to understand symbols (numbers and letters, for example). One way this might manifest is when a student has trouble distinguishing between the letters p and q when reading or writing.
Auditory processing disorders affect a student's ability to understand and analyze what they hear. It is not a hearing disorder, but rather a problem with the way the information is processed in the brain. This can affect phonological awareness: isolating the sounds of letters and then understanding how they work together in words. Students may also have trouble understanding the differences between the sounds of letters.
This article from LDOnline explains visual and auditory processing disorder in much more depth, and provides information about common interventions.
Another type of processing disorder is language processing disorder. Students may exhibit difficulty putting their thoughts into words, or may have a hard time understanding what people are saying. Issues here include social issues (for instance, when students do not understand their peers or have trouble expressing themselves), written expression problems, or struggles understanding lectures.
This article in ADDitude Magazine outlines language processing disorder in greater detail.
If you suspect your child might have an auditory or visual processing disorder, ask your school for an assessment, or reach out to a private evaluator. Speech therapists are a good place to begin for suspected language processing disorder.
You can also begin intervention right away with a tutor. The Orton-Gillingham approach I use can help students with visual and auditory processing disorders, and writing and study skills help can assist students with language processing disorders. Please reach out to me if you think your child might have a processing disorder so they can begin to