Auditory Processing Disorder Overview

When your brain has trouble comprehending what you’re hearing, you have an auditory processing disorder (APD). As a result, your ability to comprehend spoken language and environmental sounds may suffer. A good example would be the following: “What colour is the couch?” which could be interpreted as “What colour is the cow?”

In most cases, the first signs of APD appear during childhood, which can affect people of any age. A child’s hearing may appear “normal,” but they may be having trouble understanding and using sounds properly. To learn more about APD, its signs, and how it is identified and treated, keep reading.

APD at a Glance

In the context of neurological disorders, the term “auditory processing disorder” (APD) refers to a condition in which the brain has trouble filtering and interpreting sounds. Although those with APD have normal hearing, their brains have trouble processing the information they receive. The diagnosis of auditory processing impairment is most common in children already enrolled in formal education.

There is no set pattern of symptoms that may be expected in children with APD. The following are some signs that may indicate auditory processing disorder:

  • Poor hearing with background noise.
  • Problems differentiating between sounds.
  • Problems with sequentially remembering knowledge.
  • Uses phrases like “huh,” “what,” and “I don’t understand” frequently.
  • Sometimes expressing one of the above and then instantly replying correctly.
  • Struggles in the reading department.
  • Hard to convey themselves.
  • Looks to be listening but not hearing the actual words being said.
  • Struggle to understand people whose accents or speech rates are drastically different from their own.
  • Disorientation in interactions with several participants or themes
  • Mistakes in pronunciation and the mixing up of words with similar sounds are familiar.

Basic Skills

Auditory Discrimination

The capacity to recognise and differentiate between individual sounds. For example, being able to distinguish between “bat” and “pat” or “seventy” and “seventeen” relies heavily on this ability. Children with auditory processing disorders often mishear words, leading them to miss important information or get the wrong impression of what was said.

That’s because they can’t hear the nuances between sounds. It may be more challenging for children to pick up reading and writing and to find their voices. Some people with a hearing impairment may drop syllables from words or use homonyms (for example, saying “befs” for “best”) when they talk.

Syllable attenuation, as it is known in the field, is a common practise among young language learners, but these children maintain it long after their peers have normalised their pronunciation. When a child’s brain has issues recognising patterns, it can’t tell that two words sound the same and rhyme. That’s because many are simply picking up the first part of the term and missing the rest.

Figure-to-Ground Discrimination

This refers to the capability of distinguishing vital noises from background noise, following verbal directions, or isolating one voice from a cacophony of sounds.

In a classroom setting, a youngster who has problems differentiating between figures and their backgrounds, also known as figure-to-ground discrimination, may have trouble concentrating on what the teacher is saying rather than other sounds occurring in the classroom. It’s almost like a problem with filtering.

Auditory Memory

The capacity to remember things we have heard, either temporarily or permanently, is a component of what is known as auditory memory. Children with bad auditory memories have trouble remembering things they hear, like nursery rhymes and song lyrics. They also have trouble learning by reciting and remembering things without visual aids or writing them down.

Auditory Sequencing

This is the ability to comprehend and remember the order in which sounds occur in words. A youngster who has difficulty with auditory sequencing will have trouble telling the difference between numbers that have the same digits but in a different order (such as 84 and 48), and they may get the order of the sounds of a word mixed up (e.g., an elephant instead of an ephelant). She may have trouble remembering material that’s been laid out in lists, as well as difficulty following instructions in the correct order.

Auditory Processing Disorder Test

Typically, testing is not done on children until they are seven years old. An IEP meeting is an excellent place to talk about testing after a parent has requested an evaluation from a specialist. Only a trained audiologist should do an auditory processing disorder test.

Standard hearing tests could be part of an audiologist’s evaluation for APD. In addition to testing noise tolerance and word recognition, it frequently includes tasks that require participants to discern sounds amid several distracting background noises. In addition, kids may remember the sequence of spoken words, syllables, sounds, or orders and fill in the blanks as necessary.

The audiologist will evaluate these signs and assess whether or not they indicate an impairment in auditory processing. It takes some time for the analysis to be completed because experts need to review the data carefully. If a child is diagnosed, the IEP team will figure out what help, changes, and strategies he or she will need to do well.


Patients diagnosed with APD receive care based on the results of these diagnostic assessments. Doctors prioritise the following when treating:

  • Aiding in your development as a sound processor.
  • Providing you with training to help you adjust to living with APD
  • Assisting you in modifying your academic or professional setting to accommodate your needs.

Auditory training

One of the main components of therapy for APD is auditory training. You can use it to improve your aural analysis skills. It is possible to receive auditory training either in a private, one-on-one session with a therapist or remotely, through the Internet. The following are some instances of exercises:

  • Discernment of dissimilar noises or sound patterns
  • Localizing an audio source
  • Listening attentively to individual sounds notwithstanding the presence of other competing sounds

Compensatory strategies

APD can be managed with compensatory measures that focus on improving cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, and problem-solving. The following are some of the compensating methods that are taught:

  • The practise of guessing what might be said in a conversation or message
  • Organizing data with the aid of visuals
  • Using mnemonic devices and other memory aids
  • Methods of attentive listening training.

Changes to your surroundings

Altering your environment to better suit your needs is another possible method for controlling APD symptoms. Some changes in the environment include:

  • Utilizing carpet rather than hard floors is one way to reduce noise levels in a room.
  • Put off or turn off any fans, radios, or TVs that could be on in the background.
  • When it’s essential to be heard, such as in a school or business meeting, sitting close to the speaker is recommended.
  • Substituting visuals for oral instruction
  • Using a microphone and a receiver to transmit sound from a source to your ears wirelessly is the principle of a personal frequency-modulated (FM) system, one type of assistive technology.

Bottom Line

The social, emotional, and academic development of children with Auditory Processing Disorder is generally stunted. But getting help early on and tailoring it to their specific needs might set them up for future success! And teachers and parents who encourage their children play an essential role in this. At home, parents can instruct their children in skills essential to their development.

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