Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute offers screenings, therapy for children with auditory processing condition that could impede learning

The JFK Health network, which includes JFK Medical Center in Edison, merged with Hackensack Meridian Health last May. JFK is marking 50 years as a community hospital in Edison.

As education continues this fall with virtual learning environments for many students, there may be challenges for children who require additional learning support. One concern is identifying children who have difficulty with auditory processing, a disorder that affects the ability to understand speech. Auditory processing is the ability to interpret sounds and involves the brain identifying and analyzing incoming sounds to attach meaning to them.

Audiologists at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute are available to help to identify children who may have auditory processing difficulties. “

Children learn in many different ways, and since virtual education is primarily an auditory learning model, it may not be the ideal learning environment for every child,” Virginia Gural-Toth, a doctor of audiology at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, said in a prepared statement. “Successful virtual learning is dependent on adequate language skills, good attention skills, and strong auditory skills. If a child has difficulty in any of these areas, he or she is more likely to quickly fall behind in school.”


Gural-Toth advised that parents and caregivers can identify certain behaviors present in children with auditory processing difficulties, get professional support, if needed, and make environmental changes to help children overcome these issues.

“Symptoms include difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, not following directions and not being able to distinguish between similar sounds,” she said in the statement.

According to the American Speech and Hearing Association, there is not a definite known cause of auditory processing disorder.

The primary goal of treatment for an auditory processing disorder is to increase the child’s ability to use information that is received through hearing, according to the statement. This can be accomplished three ways: Making changes to the environment to improve a child’s access to auditory information: for example, by reducing the noise in the room or using an assistive device that will amplify the teacher’s voice; teaching the child to become a more active listener by developing ways to determine and retain the content and meaning of each message he or she hears. And lastly, by getting help from a speech therapist, which will provide direct intervention for problems or areas where the child may need special attention.

Key identifiers of children with auditory processing problems include: if the child is having difficulties remembering information, directions, lists or study materials; if the child is mishearing words and misunderstands what is said, and if the child is distracted while attending to class information presented virtually.

An evaluation may be indicated to rule out an auditory processing deficit.

Audiologists at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute are scheduling in person patient visits with late afternoon and evening hours. Call 732-321-7063 for more information or to schedule an appointment.