Auditory Processing – Sound Localisation, Stress and Learning

Our ability to localise sound in the environment is crucial to our survival. Consider that sound can be heard 360° around our head, in the dark, and also through barriers; you can begin to appreciate that it is more important than vision or any other sensory system. Of course, in years gone by, we would need to be aware if a dangerous animal was chasing us from behind or at night – survival of the fittest auditory system!

In the modern-day world, localising sound is just as important. We need to be able to tell where a car is coming from or to be able to concentrate on the teacher’s voice as they move around the classroom.

The processing of sound is intimately linked into our stress responses. For many children and adults with sound localisation problems, their system is on alert as their auditory processing is compromised. Many children with Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and other developmental labels have difficulty processing the direction of sound. This leads to a higher level of stress in the system. Listening, concentration and attention problems are common as well as disrupted learning and emotional and behavioural challenges. Increased stress levels become ‘stuck’ in the system leading to problems in social skills as well as learning.

Many people with problems with sound localisation develop a stronger visual system to compensate as much as possible. However, this still leaves the auditory processing problems.

We have no ‘earlids’!