Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a hearing condition that affects approximately 3%-5% of children.
Children with this condition are unable to comprehend the sounds that they hear in the manner that other children do. This is due to a lack of coordination between the brain and the ears.
APD, or central auditory processing disorder, is not a hearing loss or a learning disability. It means that the brain does not “hear” sounds and language in the way that it normally does. It’s not a problem with comprehension.
Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder
APD can impair a child’s ability to read, spell, and write as well as their ability to speak. A child may misspell words or mix up similar sounds.
It can also be difficult for them to communicate with others. They may be unable to process what others are saying and respond quickly.
A child with auditory processing disorder may also struggle to:
- Keep up with conversations
- Listen to music
- Remember details of spoken instructions
- Comprehend what others say, especially in a noisy environment or when more than one person is speaking
Causes of Auditory Processing Disorder
Doctors are unsure what causes APD, but it may be related to:
- Illness ( APD can develop as a result of meningitis, chronic ear infections, or lead poisoning. APD can also develop in people who have nervous system diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Brain injury
- Head trauma
Diagnosing Auditory Processing Disorder
A hearing test can be used to determine whether a child’s difficulties are triggered by hearing loss, but only a hearing specialist or audiologist can diagnose APD. The audiologist will conduct a set of advanced listening tests in which a child will listen to various sounds and respond to them.
They could, for example, repeat them or press a button. The doctor may also place painless electrodes in the child’s ears and head to assess how the brain responds to sound.
Children are usually not tested for APD until they are 7 years old because their responses to the listening test may be inaccurate when they are younger.
Can auditory processing disorder develop later in life?
APD can affect people of all ages. It usually begins in childhood, but some individuals develop it later in life. It affects between 2% and 7% of children, with boys being more likely than girls.
Because the disorder can cause learning delays, children with auditory processing disorder may require extra assistance in school.
Is APD a mental illness?
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition that affects the brain’s ability to filter and interpret sounds. It is also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). APD patients have normal hearing abilities, but their brains struggle to receive, organize, and make sense of sound.
Since APD has symptoms that overlap with other brain and behavioural disorders, getting a thorough consultation is critical.
Treating Auditory Processing Disorder
There is no cure for auditory processing disorder, and treatment is tailored to each individual. However, it typically focuses on the following areas:
- Classroom assistance: Electronic devices such as an FM (frequency modulation) system can assist a child in hearing the teacher more clearly. Teachers can suggest strategies to help children focus, such as sitting near the front of the class and minimizing background noise.
- Improving other skills: Problem-solving, memory, and other learning skills can help your child cope with APD.
- Speech therapy can help a child recognize sounds and improve his or her conversational skills. Reading assistance that focuses on specific areas where your child struggles can also be beneficial. Some changes at home can also be made such as covering hard floors with rugs to decrease echoes and keeping the radio, TV, and other noisy electronics to a minimum.
Auditory processing disorder, autism, dyslexia, and ADHD
APD may be associated with other conditions that cause similar clinical manifestations. In fact, auditory processing disorder may be one of the causes of dyslexia in some people.
Furthermore, some experts believe that children are sometimes misdiagnosed with ADHD or autism when they actually have auditory processing disorder.
Getting a medical diagnosis for auditory processing disorder is highly necessary to ensure that the proper treatments and intervention are carried out.
Proper education and information dissemination are essential in better understanding auditory processing disorder and how to live with it.