What are Auditory Processing Disorders?

According to the Child Mind Institute, auditory processing disorders (APD), also known as central auditory processing disorders (CAPD), impede a person’s ability to manage information that they hear. APD does not affect hearing; however, it makes it difficult for a person to process and use auditory information. APD can also interfere with a person’s ability to concentrate, interact with other people, and to learn. Although APD is not formally recognized as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), audiologists can diagnose it after conducting tests that measure specific auditory processing functions. The symptoms of APD can overlap with other diagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many people with APD can also have one of these diagnoses.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), people with APD may have a variety of symptoms, including having difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following directions, or telling the difference between speech sounds that sound similar. They may also have difficulty with spelling, reading, and understanding information presented verbally. To determine if a person has APD, an audiologist will administer a series of tests in a sound-treated room. Once an audiologist makes a diagnosis of APD, they will determine the nature of the disorder since there are many types of APD.

There is no cure-all method of treating APD. What may be successful for one person with ADP may not be successful for someone else. Treatment generally focuses on three principal areas: recruiting higher-order skills to help compensate for the disorder, changing the learning or communication environment, and remediation of the auditory function itself. Compensatory strategies may consist of suggestions to help listeners strengthen central cognitive resources, such as problem-solving and memory. The object of environmental modifications is to improve access to information presented in an auditory format, which may include using electronic devices that assist listening. There are a wide variety of treatment activities to remediate the disorder itself. These include home-based programs, computer-based activities, and therapy sessions in school or at a local clinic.

NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA for articles from the NIDILRR community and beyond on ADP, as well as articles on ADP from the international research community. If you would like more information on ADP, please contact NARIC’s information specialists. If you would like to find an audiologist in your area, visit ASHA’s ProFind tool or contact them at 1-800/638-8255.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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