Interactive 'I-Spy' mural aims to help kids get tested for auditory processing disorder

Dec 4, 2019

The mural designed by artist Chris Lyons fills one wall of the pediatric audiology waiting room at Clear Choice Hearing and Balance.
Credit John Schlia

Auditory processing disorder, or APD, can cause language delays, affect learning, and make it harder for kids to interact with others. One Rochester-based audiology office is trying out an unusual approach to help children get tested for APD, with an interactive mural. 

Those with APD can be hypersensitive to stimulation - like sounds, textures, and light. This makes it harder to test kids in order to complete a diagnosis.

Christine Tirk with Clear Choice Hearing and Balance says that she wanted to create a welcoming environment for families because getting tested for APD can be challenging and stressful. 

Audio specialist Christine Tirk came up with the idea for the interactive mural as a way to help soothe children as they wait to be tested for Auditory Processing Disorder.
Credit John Schlia

“When you’re having a child tested for anything, let alone a child with special needs, the experience starts right in the waiting room when the paperwork is being filled out,” Tirk says.

So, she called on an artist to create a 20-foot-wide "I-Spy" mural in the pediatric waiting room.

“I wanted it to be interactive so that when they came in, the parent and the child, while waiting for their appointment had something to do. So I-Spy for me is very close to home. I’m a parent and my daughter absolutely loved it,” she says.

The mural depicts the Rochester skyline and includes a Frederick Douglass statue. Artist Chris Lyons created the artwork and wrote rhyming clues for the different objects illustrated.

“We just decided that it would be more interesting to let kids search this giant drawing for all kinds of little delights. I mean, there’s something in there for potentially every kind of kid,” says Lyons.

Tirk says that the art piece and activity has helped engage children who come in for testing.

“What it does is it relaxes the child," she says. "Everyone’s coming in for testing. No one knows what the results are going to be, and I’ve found that it relaxes the child enough to get really great results.”

APD can often be a symptom of autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and Down syndrome. Tirk says that it can be diagnosed in children as well as adults.

This story is reported from WXXI's Inclusion Desk.