Auditory Processing Disorder
- Listening is a very complex process. The actions of the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear send sounds via the auditory nerve to the brain. The brain then interprets the auditory information; for example it tells us that a particular sound is a dog barking or a bird singing. Essentially, the ear works fine, but the brain cannot process what it hears.
Hearing is a sense; listening is a skill.
- A child who can hear well, but cannot understand the sounds may have Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Five out of 100 school-aged children are believed to have some form or degree of APD related deficits. Children with APD often have academic difficulties such as reading (both decoding and comprehension), spelling, writing, following directions and participating in class discussions.
Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder
- Difficulty understanding when listening
- Difficulty following auditory directions
- Difficulty remembering multi-step instructions
- Difficulty understanding in noisy situations
- Difficulty following conversations in a group setting
- Difficulty taking notes in the classroom setting
- Reading and spelling difficulties
- Short attention span/easily fatigued
- Verbal IQ lower than performance IQ
What to expect during your child's appointment
A standard hearing test assesses how well a patient detects the presence of a sound. Auditory processing is much more complicated and requires more complicated testing. During an APD evaluation, patients will listen to stimuli that are much more complicated to process than what is heard during a traditional hearing test. Individuals will be required to listen to different types of auditory stimuli which include tones, words, sentences and noises. The individual must be 8 years or older, have normal or near-normal peripheral hearing, and be able to understand test directions and concentrate for at least 20 minutes at a time during testing.
What comes next?
If testing outcomes reveal a positive APD diagnosis, there are individualized treatment plans to overcome specific auditory deficits. These treatment plans include the use of one-on-one training or computer-assisted software programs such as Earobics© and LiSN & Learn©. Our department can provide educational recommendations for educational accommodations if necessary. Our suggesting devices that would help in a school environment include the Phonak Roger Focus.