What Is Auditory Training?

Patients who receive cochlear implants will need auditory training in order to accurately discern various sounds.
Without auditory training, devices like hearing aids are not very useful for the patient.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Images By: Yahoo! Accessibility Lab, Dotweb.dk
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Auditory training is a process that involves teaching the brain to listen. People without hearing impairments and auditory processing disorders learn how to listen naturally at a very young age and may not remember this process. During this type of training, people are provided with auditory stimuli and coaching that helps them learn to identify and distinguish sounds. Auditory training is usually supervised by an audiologist or speech-language pathologist.

People who are hard of hearing may choose to wear hearing aids or Cochlear implants to improve their hearing. These devices may be worn full time or part of the time, depending on the preference of the patient, and the patient can opt to continue using sign language and other communication techniques in addition to speaking. However, just inserting an implant or hearing aid is not enough. The device needs to be adjusted so that the patient can hear comfortably and the patient must learn how to interpret the sounds that enter the ear. This requires auditory training, with patients listening to music, spoken words, and other auditory stimuli.

When these devices are initially installed, it can be overwhelming. A flood of noise enters the ear and the brain has difficulty interpreting it. Over time, auditory training allows the patient to discriminate between different sounds and to attach meaning to sounds. For example, horns evolve from loud and obnoxious noises to warning signals that alert people to dangers. Without training, devices like hearing aids are not very useful for the patient.

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People with auditory processing disorders can also benefit from auditory training. In an auditory processing disorder, hearing is functionally fine, but the brain has difficulty making sense of the information. A speech-language pathologist works with the patient to help him or her identify sounds, distinguish between them, and develop listening skills. Training of this nature can also be provided to people recovering from strokes and other injuries that impede auditory processing or damage the hearing.

Some people have suggested that auditory training can also be useful for patients with autism spectrum disorders and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. While not formally endorsed by professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, this treatment can be one option to consider. This type of training can help patients who are sensitized to auditory stimuli deal with the world around them and it may also improve communication skills and help patients feel more comfortable in noisy environments. It is important to note that treatments like auditory training are not cures, but rather approaches to management that can help people cope with their environment.

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Discuss this Article

JessicaLynn
Post 3

I have a friend who works with autistic kids, and one of the kids she was working with started auditory training a little while ago. From what my friend told me, it's been fairly helpful, even though it isn't formally recommended by any organization.

A lot of autistic kids are really sensitive to sounds, so they can get really overwhelmed by ambient noise, especially in school. The kid my friend was working with was having a lot of difficult learning, because he couldn't concentrate. However, the auditory training seems to have helped him focus a little bit better.

starrynight
Post 2

@JaneAir - Yeah, you definitely have to learn what sounds mean when you're younger, but as the article said, most people don't actually remember doing that. I don't!

The only thing I can think of that comes close to that is learning what different sounds on the computer meant when I was younger and we first got a computer. You know, one sound meant you had a new email, another sound meant there was something wrong? You have to learn to associate those specific sounds with what they actually mean. I imagine auditory memory training works in a similar way.

JaneAir
Post 1

I had no idea people who got hearing aids to help them hear better had to go through any kind of auditory processing training. I figured that you would just put the device in, and you would be good to go!

However, I guess it makes sense because as the article said, everyone learns to process what they're hearing at a young age. If you have some kind of hearing impairment, then you would never have gone through that process. So just being able to hear isn't enough, you have to train your brain to process the information. Very interesting.

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