APD is often missed because it can occur alongside or mimic symptoms of other disorders such as dyslexia, autism, ADD, ADHD, and other behavioral disorders.
What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?
Auditory processing is how your brain interprets the sounds you hear every day into something that makes sense to your mind. It involves 4 major steps: detection, discrimination, identification, and comprehension. Auditory Processing Disorder (also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder or CAPD) is a difficulty with one or more of these steps making it more difficult to “hear” or understand sound and speech. For many children and adults with APD, hearing test results are within normal limits and there is no diagnosis of hearing loss. This disorder affects approximately 20% of school-aged children as well as adults of all ages. It is common for younger and middle-aged adults to notice symptoms of APD in specific listening situations such as the college classroom, work, and social environments, and realize later in life the struggles they had growing up.
APD is often missed because it can occur alongside or mimic other disorders such as dyslexia, autism, ADD, ADHD, behavioral disorders or symptoms like poor attention, not following directions, and general learning disabilities. In more challenging environments like a dynamic classroom, the playground, or other social settings, children are less likely to “hear” what is being said and may miss some words or instructions altogether. It can be difficult for children to recognize that they have an issue. Therefore, it is important for parents, teachers and others to know how to spot symptoms of APD.
Symptoms and Diagnosing
Signs of APD
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) cases can range from mild to severe. Symptoms include difficulties with:
- Following directions
- Learning to spell, read, reading comprehension, and/or write
- Remembering auditory information
- Organization of numbers
- Knowing where sound is coming from
- Following or understanding telephone conversations
- Following long conversations
- Taking notes
- Understanding accents
- Technical information where language is novel or unfamiliar
- Social issues—difficulty "reading" others/pragmatic communication issues
- Consistent delay in responses
Symptoms of APD in Children
If you believe that a child may have APD, there are a few questions to consider:
- Is the child easily distracted?
- Are noisy environments distracting or upsetting?
- Does the child's behavior improve in quieter settings?
- Does the child have trouble following directions, whether simple or complicated?
- Does the child have reading, spelling, or writing difficulties?
- Is the child disorganized or forgetful?
- Are conversations difficult for the child to follow?
If you recognize any of the behaviors listed above to be true in your child, yourself, a loved one, a student, or a client, it is important to request an appointment.
Diagnosis of APD
We are currently equipped to test and treat children cognitively 5 years of age or older. A hearing evaluation including middle ear assessment is first required in order to confirm hearing status. In addition, a parent or adult interview is conducted as to understand the difficulties that the individual is having. We then assess the individual’s performance on a variety of tests and compare to the normative data for their age. These tests include:
- Decoding- the ability to detect sound of speech (phonemes)
- Tolerance Fading Memory- the ability to understand speech in noise along with short-term memory
- Organization- the ability to retrain auditory information in the brain in the correct order
- Integration- the ability for each side of the brain (right and left hemisphere) to talk to one another