Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing refers to “what we do with what we hear” (Jack Katz, Ph.D.).

When hearing sensitivity is normal, but a person does not hear normally, we call it an Auditory Processing Disorder or APD. Most people think of hearing as having to do with their ears, but our ears only transmit sounds. We actually hear with our brains!

It has been estimated that as many as 20% of school-aged children have auditory processing problems. Many older adults or people with brain injuries have auditory processing difficulties, too. This makes listening in noisy places, following spoken directions, and remembering what has been heard very difficult.

Auditory processing disorders can greatly affect one’s ability to communicate with others and to do well in school and in the workplace. What’s more, an APD can greatly diminish an individual’s self-esteem.

Auditory Processing Disorders come in a few varieties. A decoding deficit may cause someone to “mis-hear” spoken information. It’s like having blurry hearing where one sound is mistakenly heard as another, like in the words “time” and “dime.” An integration deficit can make it difficult to connect the two hearing centers on both sides of the brain. This problem often leads to an inability to put pieces of information together into a whole, often leaving the person lost in the details of a message. Kids with auditory integration deficits are often heard saying, “I don’t get it.” A prosodic deficit can cause the listener to misinterpret a speaker’s intent or tone of voice, causing problems with understanding sarcasm and humor, which greatly interferes with social skills development.

Diagnosis of APD is made by a certified audiologist with specialized training in this area. Not all audiologists are trained in APD. The audiologist runs a battery of tests to identify the particular type of APD a person may have so that specific intervention(s) can be recommended for each individual.

At Brainchild Institute, our audiologists are highly trained in the diagnosis and management of APD. Led by Dr. Leah Light, direct interventions, parent and teacher education, and the use of innovative, sound technology can help children and adults with APD lead happier and more productive lives.

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