Auditory Processing

Auditory Processing, also known as Central Auditory Processing is the term given to what happens when your brain recognises and interprets the sounds around you. Your ears pick up the sounds which travel in invisible vibrations or sound waves through the air. These waves travel down the ear canal and hit the eardrum in the middle ear causing it to vibrate. Three bones in the middle ear link the eardrum to the cochlea in the inner ear. This cochlea is filled with liquid which carries the vibrations to thousands of hair-like nerve endings on a membrane stretching the length of the cochlea. In turn, these fire off electrical signals which travel up the auditory pathway to the brain. If someone has an Auditory Processing Disorder, something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the sound information being sent to the brain; the ears and the brain are not fully coordinating. 

Children with APD often do not recognise subtle differences between sounds in words. They do not understand what is being said as well as they should. They sometimes behave as if they do understand (they are trying to listen), but lose track of the conversation or instruction. These problems are more likely to occur when the child is in a noisy environment (or if there is background noise), when listening to complex information, if more than one person is talking or when people are speaking quickly. Children with APD have a difficult time understanding speech presented in less than optimal circumstances. They do not have a loss of hearing sensitivity but a problem in the way they process the information.

To have effective auditory processing we must have:

  • A relatively high speed of information transfer

  • A good attention span

  • A well-functioning memory

  • Sensitivity to the many subtleties of sound

When parts of this system do not operate effectively, listening is compromised. 

​The following points are not unique to children with APD, but are signs to look for as a parent, and things to be
aware of as a teacher of a student with APD:

  • Difficulty hearing in any noisy situation
  • Easily distracted and bothered by loud or sudden noise
  • Difficulty following long conversations
  • Behaviour and focus improves in quiet settings
  • Difficulty following conversations on the phone
  • Difficulty remembering spoken information
  • Difficulty understanding abstract information
  • Disorganised and forgetful
  • Difficulty with reading and/or spelling
  • ​Difficulty following multi-step instructions
  • Difficulty taking notes
  • Difficulty with focus on an activity if other sounds are present

The main problem areas for children with APD are:

  • Auditory Figure-Ground Discrimination: The ability to pick out important sounds from a noisy background. Inability to pay attention if there is noise in the background (noisy, low structured classrooms or learning environments can be very frustrating).
  • Auditory Memory: There two kinds of auditory memory; Long-term auditory memory  is the ability to remember something heard some time ago and Short-term auditory memory is the ability to recall something heard very recently  (you might notice difficulties with remembering people's names , telephone numbers, following multi-step instructions, recalling songs).
  • Auditory Sequencing: the ability to understand and recall the order of words. They may confuse multi-digit numbers, such as 74 and 47, confusing lists and other types of sequences and have difficulty remembering the correct order of a series of instructions.
  • Auditory Discrimination: the ability to notice, compare and distinguish the distinct and separate sounds in words. This skill is essential for reading. They may have difficulty learning to read, distinguishing between similar sounds (boat/coat), following directions and remembering details. It can affect reading, writing and learning to spell. The child typically seems to hear, but not listen.
  • ​Auditory Attention: inability to stay focused long enough to complete a task.

​At Back to Basics Tuition we understand the difficulties associated with Auditory Processing Disorder and have strategies in place to help overcome these.

Strattera 80 1721 35 1885 254 89 826 449 5339
Dexamphetamine 57 2554 45 2568 707 360 1391 1529 9211
Methylphenidate 692 19622 304 10348 1643 1334 8105 4239 46284
Total Unique Child Patients 791 22824 366 13711 2426 1687 9749 5865 57419
% over (under) National Per Capita Rate -11% 22% -50% 14% -39% 29% -30% -2% 0%

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Learning Difficulties

IMPORTANT: We are currently NOT taking new students.


Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme Child Prescribing (0-18)
​ Patient Numbers for ADHD Drugs in 2009

(Source Australia Government – Medicare Australia)

ADHD is a Disruptive Behaviour Disorder characterised by the presence of a set of chronic and impairing behaviour patterns that include abnormal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, or a combination of these. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Ed. IV, (DSM-IV) 1994). 

ADHD is not an illness.

It is a disorder that affects your child’s ability to concentrate. It is a developmental problem resulting in poor concentration and control of impulses. It causes impairment in social and academic function, affecting your child’s learning and social skills. It can also affect the way your family functions. Children with ADHD usually find it hard to concentrate and this is often prominent during homework time. Their behaviour may cause problems at school and home. Often the child does not want to cause trouble; they just do not have enough self-control.  

ADHD has received a lot of attention over the past few years due to its apparent rise in diagnoses. It is fair to say that in most average classrooms (20-30 students), there would be at least one child with ADHD (diagnosed or otherwise). The chart below shows the number of Australian children prescribed ADHD drugs in 2009.

“In Australia it is likely that two to three children in each classroom will experience problems with learning”
​(The Australian Psychological Society). 

Problems in learning cannot always be explained away by low intellectual ability or poor education. Sometimes there is more to it than this and we find that the learner has a learning difficulty or disability.

A learning disability affects how an individual learns. It can be how they take on or process information, how they remember and understand and how they express information. Learning difficulties (or differences or disabilities) fall into two main categories: Global Learning Difficulties and Specific Learning Difficulties. 

A student with global learning difficulties will find all areas of learning difficult regardless of how they are taught. These students tend to be categorised as slow learners. This does not mean they cannot learn, but that expectations around their learning should be less than that of their peers, and educational programs should be modified to suit their needs and pace. 

A student with specific learning difficulties is of at least general intelligence but still has trouble with learning. These students tend to be misunderstood and need to be taught differently from the ‘normal’ classroom practice. 

It is important that the teacher understand them and how they learn, and teaches appropriately (very hard for a classroom teacher to facilitate with little resourcing and time). A child with a specific learning disability may have difficulties in one or more areas but have average or above average results in others.

Learning difficulties are not as obvious to others as physical disabilities.

Some children with learning difficulties become very good at ‘covering up’ their difficulty. Over the years, many labels have been introduced to define our children’s learning difficulties. While these labels can help explain their learning behaviours, they can also become confusing for parents and teachers. It is important that we understand what these labels mean, and more important that they provide us with information on how to best work with the child. A good assessment should not just tell you the child is below average or that s/he is failing, but should be able to point you in the right direction and give you steps on how to help the learner.

If your child has been labelled with a learning disability you should not feel helpless or hopeless, rather you should be feeling empowered that you now have some direction in which you can help them with their learning. 

At Back to Basics Tuition we understand learning difficulties and can help both you and your child overcome the stigma of a label and focus on learning to suit their individual needs. 

What parents are saying

We were amazed at how quickly Kate was able to understand our child. Although initially he was reluctant to come, it took her only a few short minutes to have him talking and focused on the activities. He was so comfortable with Kate that we were able to leave him working with her, without needing us there. 

The Back to Basics Tuition assessment was both thorough and excellent. We were very impressed with how Kate could pinpoint things about Luke that we knew but even his teachers had not picked up on. The program moves at a pace that challenges Luke but does not push him too far out of his comfort zone. His 'special quirks' aren't a problem at Back to Basics Tuition and for the first time in a while, he is beginning to enjoy learning again.

There are three types of ADHD (ADHD is now the generic term used to describe all three types of the disorder): 

Inattention: difficulty concentrating or paying attention, forgetting instructions, difficulty finishing tasks, moving from one task to another without completing any of them

Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: fidgety, restless, always on the go, talking over the top of others, easily losing control of their emotions, accident prone, acting without thinking 

Combined: in this type children often display signs of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

ADHD is not just bad behaviour.

Often discipline strategies are put in place by both parents and teachers but they do not seem to be effective. Children with ADHD need limits on their behaviour as well as a consistent approach in parenting and schooling. ADHD is not caused by poor parenting but can be better managed by good parenting and teaching. Behavioural problems due to ADHD are often noticed at school. It is found that children with ADHD perform best in highly structured learning environments with intervention that involves positive reinforcement or enhanced encouragement and support. Providing as much one-to-one and individualised support as possible, and having a fixed routine will help minimise the effects of ADHD on the child’s learning. Unfortunately, many classrooms of today are unable to provide this intense support to the individual child, thus the problems continue to occur, and the child’s education suffers. ADHD doesn’t just disappear as the child gets older, but problems can become less difficult to manage if the right strategies are put in place and the person becomes better at controlling their behaviour.

Having ADHD does not mean the sufferer is less intelligent. 

​It is often seen that a person with ADHD may be able to do a task one day, but not the next. They may forget what would be generally deemed as simple concepts, yet have an excellent memory for complex problems.  

A diagnosis of ADHD is carried out by trained and experienced health professionals using information from the family and school. ADHD can be difficult to diagnose in children younger than five. This is because most young children are occasionally impulsive, inattentive or hyperactive. Some of the symptoms of ADHD exist for most people some of the time. However in ADHD, most of the symptoms will be there more of the time. These symptoms interfere with the ability of the person to function normally. The behaviour causes problems with schoolwork, friends, home life and general daily living. It interferes with the person’s ability to fit in with his or her world. Symptoms of ADHD must persist for six months or more and be apparent in various settings.

Some of the signs to look for are: 


  • Acts before thinking and does not consider the consequences 
  • Fails to pay close attention to details 
  • Difficulty sustaining attention to tasks or play; jumps from one task to another 
  • Does not finish things 
  • Loses things needed for the task e.g. toys, pencils, books 
  • Is forgetful 
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to 
  • Difficulty organising tasks, activities and self 
  • Doesn’t follow instructions 
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort; tries to get out of things that require a lot of thinking  


  • Fidgets with hands or feet 
  • Moves/squirms while sitting 
  • Leaves seat in the classroom when supposed to be seated 
  • Excessive running around or climbing 
  • Always ‘on the go’ 
  • Talking over the top of others, interrupting, ‘blurting out the answer’ before the question is completed 
  • Difficulty working quietly 
  • Difficulty waiting turn   

​Back to Basics tuition understands ADHD. Back to Basics Tuition has tools and strategies to help you and your child manage ADHD. Back to Basics Tuition will ensure that your child does not miss out on their learning because of their ADHD. 

Remember, children with ADHD need support and understanding, not labelling.