Children with "normal" hearing sometimes seem to have problems understanding what they hear. Sometimes they "mishear" words, such as hearing "grub" instead of "rub". Sometimes they have difficulty hearing things in noisy backgrounds, such as in the cafeteria or gym. They might have a hard time remembering all the steps given in multi-step directions commonly heard in the classroom, such as "put your vocabulary book away, take out your math book and open to page 45, then pass your homework to the front of the row".
The ear can physically "hear" the acoustic stimuli, but the brain seems to have difficulty managing that input. Many names have been given to this phenomenon, including Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). One treatment approach to this problem has been to train auditory and listening skills, such as sound localization, sound sequencing, and auditory discrimination. Another approach involves using modifications (changes to the environment) and strategies (tactics the child can use) to help understand the information that is heard.
Environmental modifications include preferential seating (near the speaker and away from noise sources like fans), use of assistive listening devices such as sound enhancement systems, or supporting auditory information with visual aids. Student strategies can include looking at the speaker, listening carefully, focusing on the speaker instead of multi-tasking, repeating information given, and asking specific questions (like "would you repeat the first thing you said?").
Let us know if you'd like more information, or check out the ASHA website.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
The website of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a valuable resource for information on a variety of speech, language and hearing topics.