Auditory Processing Disorders
What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a disability that affects how the brain processes spoken language. Kids with APD have difficulty interpreting and storing information despite normal hearing. In addition to hindering speech and language development, APD can affect other areas of learning, particularly reading and writing.
Auditory Processing Disorder can be caused by a measurable neurological defect located in the higher auditory neural pathways. A person has normal hearing but an out-of-synch arrival time of the electrical impulses from the ears through the brainstem to higher cortical functions causes faulty interpretation of heard signals.
There's no clear agreed-to definition of Auditory Processing Disorder, but there seems to be agreement on these points:
- Auditory processing disorders (APD) exist in some children, most with normal intelligence.
- There is a breakdown in receiving, remembering, understanding, and using auditory information.
- Hearing ability is adequate.
- There is a neurological basis.
- The child’s ability to listen is impaired.
Why is Understanding APD Important?
A child with Audiory Processing Disorder can often have the same types of behavioral problems as a child with ADD. It's easy to see, however, that using the techniques appropriate for an ADD child will not be very effective with a child suffering from auditory processing issues, who can have very specific auditory skills needing to be developed. These affected skills can include:
- Phonologic awareness: Identifying sounds in words, the number of sounds in a word, and similarities among words; may show up in spelling, writing, and reading difficulties.
- Auditory discrimination: Recognizing differences when asked to say whether the sounds or words are the “same or different.”
- Auditory memory: Storing, or retaining, pertinent auditory information; may affect ability to follow oral directions, participate in discussions, and spell.
- Auditory figure-ground discrimination: Understanding spoken language in a noisy background; may show up more in noisy environments or when expected to listen for information.
- Auditory sequencing: Remembering the order of spoken words or sounds in a series.
- Auditory blending: Combining isolated sounds together to form words.
How to Know if Your Child has Auditory Processing Issues
Identifying an auditory processing disorder requires input from the teacher, parents and child, observation of the child in his classroom, and a review of past medical and educational records.
Prior to formal testing, the school nurse should do an audiologic screening. If there are concerns about hearing, a referral may be made to the family’s physician for further audiologic testing. Finally, an audiologist, educational psychologist and a speech-language specialist may do a formal assessment. In other words, a team evaluates the strengths and needs of the child.
A variety of standardized tests measuring auditory skills may be given. Test scores compare the child’s performance to that of other kids his age. If a psychologist administers an individual test of intelligence, she’ll also compare scores on verbal and performance scales to see if there’s a true discrepancy — nonverbal subtest scores are much higher than those on verbal subtests.
Speech-language specialists may select standardized language tests that evaluate articulation, vocabulary, concepts, sentence recall, understanding of paragraphs, and ability to follow oral directions.
Learn More about APD
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(*NOTE: Using EEG Biofeedback, Sensory Integration Training, Auditory Integration Training, Sound Therapy, and Hypnotherapy therapeutic plans that are customized for each patient's individual needs, The Attention & Achievement Center has produced significant improvements in the lives of patients with central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)).
Learn more about the Challenges and Strategies of Auditory Procesing Disorders.