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What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Some children may have difficulty understanding what they hear. Although another person might hear the difference in the language, the child doesn't. Their ears do not interpret the sounds the same way another individual might. These children have something called Auditory Processing Disorder.

What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Auditory Processing Disorder, or APD for short, is a condition that affects about 5% of children. With this disorder, children have normal hearing but often are not able to distinguish sounds. This becomes problematic with language, as the child cannot differentiate between the different sounds. The child may become confused as they cannot hear the difference between words such as there or where. It is important to note that APD is not hearing loss, but rather difficulty processing what is heard.

What Are Potential Symptoms of APD?

APD offers a wide variety of symptoms. Children may display some or all of these:

Difficulty following directions
A child may have trouble following multiple directions at once. They may forget the sequence of the directions or not understand.

Difficulty understanding and responding to questions
APD can make understanding and response difficult. Because the child is not able to differentiate the sounds, they may ask the individual to repeat themselves or take a while to respond.

Mixing sounds in a phrase (such as aminal instead of animal)
Auditory discrimination is the key to language learning. A child with APD may frequently mix up the order of sounds in a word.

Difficulty communicating
APD causes processing to take longer. A child with this condition may not want to communicate or be difficult to communicate with due to difficulty processing spoken language.

Difficulty discerning background noise from important sounds or conversations
This symptom can make school difficult. In a room without background noise, a child may be able to understand and differentiate sounds. However, background noise may make it significantly more difficult.

Poor Auditory Memory
Auditory memory is the ability an individual has to remember sounds or things they hear. Children may have a hard time remembering simple songs or rhymes.

How to Help

There are many different options for children with APD. Children continue to develop their auditory system until they are 15. This means that they still have the chance to develop many of the skills they may have trouble with. The sooner a child is diagnosed with APD, the less likely it is to impact their performance in school.

A speech-language therapist can help a child differentiate sounds. The therapist can also help them develop good communication skills despite their condition.

It is important to let the child's teacher know about his/her condition and what hearing care the child may need. Have the student sit close to the front where they can hear clearer and encourage the teacher to write on the board. Be sure the teacher understands that the student does not have hearing loss, but rather cannot process the information.

Auditory Processing Disorder does not mean that a child cannot learn or succeed. With proper hearing care and early diagnosis, steps can be taken to ensure the child has the best chance at success. Children with APD can still be massively successful with the right support system.