The Truth Behind Auditory Processing Disorder
In recent years, the term Auditory Processing Disorder has gained public awareness, which has led to increased misinformation, often incorrect diagnoses, and general confusion. Let’s start fresh and get to the truth behind Auditory Processing Disorder.
What is APD?
Auditory processing disorder (APD) in broad terms is how the central nervous system uses auditory information. It is not related to a hearing loss or not being able to hear what is being said. APD is not caused by a cognitive, language, or related disorder.
Children with APD typically struggle to process and make meaning of sounds. This is especially true when there are background noises. In a child with APD, the brain doesn’t recognize and interpret sounds correctly—including speech sounds. It’s like there’s a disconnect somewhere between the ears and the brain. He or she can hear what you say, but can’t always process/understand it.
What are the signs and symptoms?
There are many different characteristics of someone who is diagnosed with auditory processing disorder. These can range from mild to severe and may look different in every child. An audiologist is a specialist who can diagnose this disorder. Some symptoms of this disorder include:
-struggling to hear in crowded, noisy places
-frequently asking for things to be repeated
-appearing to be inattentive or may be easily distracted
-difficulty following directions
-noticeable speech delays
-difficulty with reading, spelling, and understanding information presented verbally in the classroom
How is APD diagnosed?
APD can only be diagnosed by an Audiologist. APD cannot be determined from a checklist of signs/symptoms because every child with this diagnosis will look different. There are also different types of processing disorders, and the audiologist will be able to determine the specific type of disorder that a child has. This is important when determining what strategies will help the child. An audiologist will perform a variety of auditory tests in a sound-treated room. Most of the tests of APD require that a child be at least 7 or 8 years of age because the variability in brain function is so great in younger children that test results may not be possible or accurate.
Jeannine Abel M.A., CCC-SLP