• What is auditory processing?

    Auditory processing is a term used to describe what happens when your brain recognizes and interprets the sounds around you.  Humans hear when energy that we recognize as sound travels through the ear and is changed into electrical information that can be interpreted by the brain.  The "disorder" part of auditory processing disorder means that something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the information.

    Children with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves are loud and clear.  For example, the request "Tell me how a chair and a couch are alike" may sound to a child with APD like "Tell me how a couch and a chair are alike."  It can even be understood by the child as "Tell me how a cow and a hair are alike."  These kinds of problems are more likely to occur when a person with APD is in a noisy environment or when he or she is listening to complex information.

     What are the symptoms of possible auditory processing difficulty?

    Children with auditory processing difficulty typically have normal hearing and intelligence.  However, they have also been observed to display some or all of the following characteristics:

    ·         Have trouble paying attention to and remembering information presented orally

    ·         Have problems carrying out multistep directions

    ·         Have poor listening skills

    ·         Need more time to process information

    ·         Have low academic performance

    ·         Have behavior problems

    ·         Have language difficulty (e.g., they confuse syllable sequences and have problems developing vocabulary and understanding language)

    ·         Have difficulty with reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary

    What treatments are available for auditory processing difficulty?

    It is important to understand that there is not one, sure-fire, cure-all method of treating APD.  There is no one treatment approach that is appropriate for all children. In addition, the type, frequency, and intensity of therapy, like all aspects of APD intervention, should be highly individualized and programmed for the specific type of auditory disorder that is present.

     Treatment of APD generally focuses on three primary areas: changing the learning or communication environment, recruiting higher-order skills to help compensate for the disorder, and remediation of the auditory deficit itself.

    ·         The primary purpose of environmental modifications is to improve access to auditorily presented information.  Suggestions may include use of electronic devices that assist listening, teacher-oriented suggestions to improve delivery of information, and other methods of altering the learning environment so that the child with APD can focus his or her attention on the message.

    ·         Compensatory strategies usually consist of suggestions for assisting listeners in strengthening central resources (language, problem-solving, memory, attention, other cognitive skills) so that they can be used to help overcome the auditory disorder.  In addition, many compensatory strategy approaches teach children with APD to take responsibility for their own listening success or failure and to be an active participant in daily listening activities through a variety of active listening and problem-solving techniques.

    ·         Finally, direct treatment of APD seeks to remediate the disorder, itself. There exist a wide variety of treatment activities to address specific auditory deficits. Some may be computer-assisted, others may include one-on-one training with a therapist. Sometimes home-based programs are appropriate whereas others may require children to attend therapy sessions in school.


    Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

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