Auditory processing disorder, otherwise known as APD, refers to a condition whereby you find it difficult to understand sounds, including spoken words.
If you are wondering whether you or your child has APD, we have put together this guide to give you a helping hand. Read on to discover more.
What causes auditory processing disorder?
Before we take a look at the different symptoms that are associated with ADP, it’s important to establish why some people end up suffering from auditory processing disorder. Unfortunately, the underlying cause is not yet known.
Experts often debate whether it is an environmental or heredity condition, or whether both are responsible.
Although our auditory system is fully developed when we are born, auditory pathways will not mature until the age of approximately 10 to 12-years-old.
As a consequence of this, early influences can have a negative impact on auditory processing. Examples include the likes of chronic ear infections, childhood malnutrition, a mother’s exposure to alcohol or cigarettes, and poor prenatal nutrition.
Lyme disease, premature birth, and other brain infections, can also play a role. Exposure to low levels of heavy metals, like mercury or lead, and closed head injuries have been linked to ADP as well.
The good news is that auditory processing disorder is responsive to early intervention. This is because our auditory pathways continue to develop right up to our adolescence period.
What are some of the symptoms of auditory processing disorder (APD)?
A lot of people develop APD during their childhood. However, you can develop it later in life. So, if you notice any of these signs as an adult, it could be that you have APD.
If you or your little one has APD, you may find it challenging to understand:
Words that sound similar to one and other
People with strong accents
People speaking in noisy places
Although it is easy to assume that APD is a hearing problem, this is not the case. Those with this condition will typically have normal hearing.
A pioneer in the field of ADP, Jack Katz M.D., has described the condition as three disorders in one:
Sound discrimination issues – Someone with ADP may not speak clearly, using similar words instead of the exact sounds, for example, using “dat” instead of “that”
Auditory memory problems – This makes it challenging for a child to memorize facts and numbers, as well as impacting his or her ability to read and their language skills.
Language processing issues – This is the most troublesome part of auditory processing disorder. It impacts the person’s ability to comprehend what is being ask of him or her, which can have a negative impact on the individual’s social life.
Book an appointment with your GP if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above
If you have noticed any of the symptoms that we have mentioned above, we would recommend that you book an appointment with your GP sooner rather than later.
There are a number of different tests your GP can carry out to determine whether or not you have APD.
Testing for auditory processing disorder (APD)
In order to test for APD, you may be asked to:
Fill in missing parts of words
Spot small changes in sounds
Listen to speech with background noise
Some of the other tests may include:
Concentration, problem-solving, and memory tests
Language and speech tests
Having electrodes on your head in order to measure the reaction of your brain to the sounds
You will typically find that testing for APD is not done in children under the age of seven-years-old.
Treatment for APD
At present, no cure is available for auditory processing disorder. However, there are some things that can help.
Treatment will typically involve engaging in different activities to enhance concentration and listening. This is known as auditory training. This is something you can do in your own time online or you can do it with the assistance of a hearing specialist.
Children with ADP may be advised to wear a wireless earpiece while they are at school so that background noise can be reduced. The wireless earpiece will connect to a small microphone worn by the teacher. This helps to ensure that your child does not end up missing out in the classroom.
Is there a connection between APD and ADHD?
Symptoms associated with APD and ADHD can often overlap with one and other. Studies indicate that half of those diagnosed with ADHD also have APD. However, experts continue to disagree on whether or not they or separate disorders or whether auditory processing disorder is a manifestation of ADHD.
Generally, a child with ADHD will exhibit hyperactivity, distractibility, and inattention in any environment. However, a child with APD will typically not have any trouble in terms of paying attention or focusing when they are in a quiet space. Yet a lot of children with auditory processing disorder are very sensitive to sound. In fact, there are some sounds that can hurt, such as police sirens, train engines, or a blender.
When a child has ADHD, he or she may be a poor listener. They can also find it difficult to remember verbal information and understand what others are saying. However, their ability to use or access the auditory information that is coming in is impeded by their attention deficit.
Final words on APD
We hope that this has helped you to get a better understanding of auditory processing disorder and the symptoms that are associated with it.
You should consider booking an appointment with your GP to discover whether or not you have APD.
While there is currently no cure for APD, there are things that can help. Booking auditory training with a hearing specialist, for example, is a good idea.