What Is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?
Auditory Processing Disorders (APD), also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is the reduced or impaired ability to discriminate, recognize or comprehend complex sounds, such as those used in words, even though the person’s hearing is normal. For example, understanding boat for coat or the not being able to discriminate the difference in sounds between “sh” and “ch” It is a complex problem that affects about 5% to 7% of school-aged children and it is twice as often diagnosed in boys than in girls.
Although it is difficult to understand, APD is not a problem with hearing per se. The problem lies in the hearing process. One may be able to hear everything that is said but struggles to process the meaning of it. In children or adults with APD, the electrical signals that come from the sound waves into the ear and that are sent to the brain, arrive with a delay or distortion, which makes learning and memorizing very difficult.
This Is The Regular Process Of Hearing:
Children who “pass” their hearing screening at school or in their pediatrician’s office, do “ok” even when tested by the speech therapist at school, but struggle with long assignments, following directions, appear to not hear (ask for frequent repetitions) or “mishear”, misunderstand humor and idioms, or appear distracted or overly fidgety, may actually be manifesting signs of an auditory processing disorder.
This Is What Happens In A Child/Adult With APD:
Many people with APD will also have accompanying learning differences that are often diagnosed as the primary problem, and therefore APD is overlooked and not properly treated. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), as well as the American Academy of Audiology, have presented position statements, in which they present through research, the existence of APD among children as well as adults.
What Are The Symptoms?
Signs of APD often appear at a young age, usually in school-aged children, but can be diagnosed in high school-aged children and adults as well.
APD can only be diagnosed by a licensed audiologist who evaluates the auditory mechanism by tests specific to diagnosing APD.
Symptoms of APD can manifest in many different ways and can range from mild to severe. APD can co-exist with, or be isolated from, such disorders as ADD or ADHD.
Some Symptoms Of APD Include, But Are Not Limited To:
- Difficulty understanding in noisy environments
- Difficulty following multi-task directions
- Difficulty distinguishing between similar sounds
- Language and/or speech delays
- Often requiring repetition or clarification (as if there was a hearing problem present)
- Easily distracted or unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises
- Improved behavior and performance in quieter settings
- Difficulty understanding abstract information
- Difficulty with verbal math problems
- Disorganized and forgetful
- Have trouble or display poor memory for word and numbers
- Have trouble understanding jokes, riddles or idioms
- Show difficulty in expressive language
- Seems to “tune out” when the conversation is complex or involves too many people
- In school, they will often have difficulties with language, learning, reading, and spelling
- Excessive fatigue is not uncommon in children with APD who have been listening in school all day
- If your child has any of these symptoms and you suspect that APD may be the cause, contact a licensed audiologist to make an appointment for an evaluation. Keep in mind, however, that not all audiologists work with APD testing.
What Causes APD?
There is currently no known definite cause of APD. Research suggests that it can be congenital (some people are born with it) or it can be acquired. Evidence suggests links to recurring middle ear infections, head injury, or trauma.
What Is The Proper Treatment?
There are multiple treatments for APD used by licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists. There is not one clear-cut proven solution.
What Can I Do To Help My Child At Home?
- Always talk to your child’s face to face; try to get him/her to look you in the eyes when talking or when giving out instructions.
- Make instructions simple, no more than three steps at a time. If possible, have him/her repeat the instructions back to you.
- Speak at a slightly slower rate and a slightly louder volume.
- When you are in the car and unable to face your child, turn off the radio when carrying on a conversation. This will eliminate background noise so that your child can fully concentrate on the topic at hand.
- When doing homework, have your child sit in a quiet place (no TV, radio, computer, etc) in order for him/her to concentrate.
- Try placing felt stickers on the bottom of chairs to avoid loud noises when they are moved (tennis balls will also work for the noise but not for the decor!)
What Does an Auditory Processing Evaluation Entail?
A central auditory processing evaluation includes a series of tests that determine how well a person processes, or does, with what he or she hears. Tests of auditory processing are designed to simulate listening tasks encountered in the real world. These tests stress the auditory system by distorting, degrading, filtering or time altering the speech signal.
Click the link below for information on the battery of tests that are given during the evaluation.
Auditory Processing Evaluations & APD Testing in New Jersey
Speech & Hearing Associates is an audiologist association providing New Jersey with APD testing and evaluations for children and adults with Auditory Processing or Central Auditory Processing Disorders.
Call Speech & Hearing Associates at (800) 742-7551 for more information or to schedule an appointment.