Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder Help

There is a growing awareness of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and it can be hard to decide where to go for help and information. Here is a summary of what APD is and a few tips and cautions to be aware of as you start your journey.

The following is from SoundSkills

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a hearing disorder in which the ears process sound normally but the hearing centres and circuits of the brain don’t correctly process incoming information. This can affect understanding, especially in challenging listening situations such as in the presence of other distracting sound, or when listening to complex information or instructions.

APD is often referred to as a hearing problem in which “the brain can’t hear”.

People with APD are usually of normal intelligence and pass standard hearing tests, but they sometimes have difficulty understanding what they hear.

A person with APD will typically exhibit some of the following signs:

  • difficulty comprehending spoken language unless brief, clear and simple
  • hearing difficulty against other background sound
  • poor listening skills
  • slowness in processing spoken information
  • poor auditory memory (difficulty attending to and remembering spoken information)

Other possible signs include

  • insensitivity to tone of voice or other nuances of speech
  • sensitivity to excessive auditory stimulation (eg noisy situations)
  • extreme tiredness after school
  • problems with comprehension, language, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, reading or written language

Only an Audiologist can diagnose APD using a variety of tests. At this point in time in Hamilton (May 2017), there is no free assessment at the Waikato DHB. The nearest place for assessment (if you live in Hamilton) is in Auckland.  SoundSkills in Auckland is a specialist service for APD and are recommended for assessment and therapy http://www.soundskills.co.nz/Auditory%20Processing%20Disorder/diagnosis.html

If you are unsure whether APD assessment is needed, I highly recommend attending a free training seminar at SoundSkills in Auckland http://www.soundskills.co.nz/Events/index.html

As a Speech-Language Therapist I can help you before an APD assessment:

  • Assess sound awareness skills (phonological awareness).
  • Assess language skills, including those that might be impacted by an APD e.g. number/sentence repetition.
  • Identify features that may indicate that an APD assessment is warranted.

As a Speech-Language Therapist I can help you after an APD assessment:

  • I recommend that where there is a diagnosis of APD, therapy starts with the Audiologist’s treatment programs and personal amplification trials where suggested.
  • I can help provide therapy for areas that may have been affected by the APD e.g. phonological awareness, language skills, and auditory processing skills (such as auditory memory) as appropriate.
  • I can also suggest home activities that may be helpful, though they have subscription costs (e.g. HearBuilder, Earobics, Acoustic Pioneer).

If you would like more information, a Google search will come up with hundreds of pages! There are many things to buy, and you could end up with items that cost a lot but are not ideal for your APD. I recommend taking advice for therapeutic tools from your Audiologist and Speech-Language Therapist.

You could order a book or two from the library or favourite book store if that’s easier…

My favourite books on APD are:
“When the brain can’t hear” by Teri James Bellis – explaining the nature of APD and interesting case studies including her own personal experience after a car accident.

“The Sound of Hope” by Lois Heymann – describes the various aspects of APD in easy to understand descriptions e.g. auditory closure, auditory analysis… This book has examples of therapy supports for home too.

Feel free to give me a call or e-mail if you have questions about APD and your child.