Hearing Concerns

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD) can be likened to hearing but not understanding. This is due to having difficulty hearing small sound nuances in words. For example, someone might say “Please raise your hand” but it is heard or perceived as “Please place your pan”. These small nuances can lead to a big gap in communication.

Did you know that auditory processing disorder is not categorized as hearing loss or a learning disorder? Contrary to common beliefs, auditory processing disorder is also not a problem with comprehension. Being diagnosed with APD simply means that the brain doesn’t pick up sounds the way it is supposed to. 

How common is auditory processing disorder?

Auditory processing disorder can occur in people of all ages. Commonly, auditory processing disorder starts during childhood, but people can also develop APD later in life. Based on statistical data, around 2%-7% of kids have auditory processing disorders. Boys are more likely to get auditory processing disorders than girls.

Getting diagnosed with auditory processing disorder during childhood can play a crucial role in a child’s learning and development. Untreated APD can lead to learning delays which is why getting a proper diagnosis and ruling out other learning disorders is highly critical.

Auditory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and Dyslexia

Auditory processing disorder may be linked to conditions with similar symptoms like dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because the symptoms of these three conditions are highly similar and may overlap with each other, getting an intensive evaluation is essential to get an accurate diagnosis.

Is APD on the autism spectrum?

Auditory processing disorder is a hearing disorder, not the result of other conditions that may affect attention or comprehension, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How do you know if you have auditory processing disorder?

Diagnosing auditory processing disorder entails a battery of tests performed by an audiologist who will monitor hearing. During an evaluation, a patient will be asked to listen to words and sentences as the volume of background noise is slowly increased. Verbal instructions are also given at faster speeds to determine if the ability to listen falters.

Auditory Processing Disorder Symptoms

Auditory processing disorder may affect the way a child communicates, affecting their ability to read, write, and spell and how they take in external information. The end words may tend to be confused with similar sounds.

APD can make conversing a struggle because this condition makes it difficult to process what others are saying. This could lead to a delay in response or making a wrong and totally unrelated response.

People with auditory processing disorder may find it difficult to:

  • Determine where a sound came from
  • Follow conversations
  • Listen to music
  • Remember or follow verbal instructions, especially if there are multiple steps
  • Understand what people say especially in group conversations or in a crowded/noisy environment

Causes of Auditory Processing Disorder

Medical practitioners find it challenging to pinpoint one specific reason for auditory processing disorder. However, it is usually linked to:

  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • Illness (meningitis, chronic ear infections, or lead poisoning)
  • Nervous system diseases (multiple sclerosis)
  • Genetics (auditory processing disorder may run in families)
  • Head injury, concussion, or trauma

Auditory Processing Disorder Testing and Diagnosis

Doctors usually perform a hearing test to check if the communication issues are caused by hearing loss. Only audiologists can diagnose auditory processing disorder.

Fort Bend Hearing offers testing and diagnosis services to rule out or confirm auditory processing disorder in children and adults. We will conduct a series of advanced hearing tests to measure your hearing and how your brain responds to sounds.

Children aged 7 and below are not yet qualified to get tested for auditory processing disorders because their responses to listening tests may not yet be reliable.

Can a child outgrow auditory processing disorder?

Yes and no. 

Yes, because the human brain has the amazing capacity of changing, there’s always a possibility that children can grow out of anything with the right stimulation and training during childhood. In fact, the act of listening itself is a step towards improving auditory processing disorder.

No, because while it usually takes around 12-15 years of age to have complete auditory processing maturity, children with APD have a slower maturity rate than normal kids so their developmental milestones are affected. This means that there is also a chance that a child may not be able to outgrow auditory processing disorder.

In short, it is ideal to seek professional help as soon as you notice any issues with your child’s hearing and comprehension rather than wait for them to “outgrow” the issue.

Treating Auditory Processing Disorder

There is still no cure for auditory processing disorder and treatment is specific to each person. Below are some of the treatments for APD:

Support in school and classroom settings

Electronic devices, like frequency modulation systems or personal sound amplification products, can help students hear the teacher more clearly. Students with auditory processing disorder can also be seated at the front row to better hear the teacher. By employing strategic educational strategies for children with APD, smooth and transitional learning can be possible.

Therapy

Speech therapy can greatly help patients with an auditory processing disorder, enabling them to recognize sounds better and improve basic conversational skills. Speech therapy is known to be the main treatment for auditory processing disorder. Speech therapy should be under the guidance of speech-language pathologists. When it comes to auditory processing disorder, the earlier the treatment starts, the better. Joining support groups for people with APD can also help boost the morale of patients with APD as they can socialize and interact with people who are experiencing the same medical condition.

Lifestyle changes

Small lifestyle changes can help make living with auditory processing disorder easier. For example, you can cover hard floors with rugs or carpets to lessen the echoes. Limiting the use of TV, mobile phone, and other noise-producing devices can also help.

With the right treatment and intervention, patients with auditory processing disorder can thrive in life – academically, professionally, and socially. The key is early diagnosis. If auditory processing disorder is not diagnosed and managed early on, it could pose a risk for learning difficulties and listening problems.

Misdiagnosed or undiagnosed auditory processing disorder can also lead to more problems which is why it’s crucial to seek the expertise of medical professionals who are experts in diagnosing and treating APD.

Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Auditory Processing Disorder Topics

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Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Diagnostic Audiology Services - Sugar Land, Texas

Fort Bend Hearing is dedicated to helping patients communicate better by providing comprehensive and accurate hearing evaluations to come up with highly-personalized treatment plans. Let us help you overcome any possible gaps and hurdles that prevent you from communicating effectively.

If you see a sign that you or your child might have auditory processing disorder, our audiologists at Fort Bend Hearing can provide an accurate diagnosis so you can get the needed intervention as soon as possible.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!