Auditory Processing Disorder (also called Central Auditory Processing Disorder or CAPD) is a general term referring to disordered processing of sounds that takes place in the pathways between the auditory nerve, which connects to the ear, and the higher-level auditory pathways in the brain. It is important to know that auditory processing disorders are not the result of a hearing impairment – people diagnosed with APD hear normally, and a hearing impairment must be ruled out before an auditory processing disorder can be diagnosed. Auditory processing disorders are near to my heart because many of my pediatric speech therapy clients have either been diagnosed with APD or show symptoms of it!
What are the signs and symptoms?
Inconsistent listening skills are a common sign of APD, especially when environmental noise is present. Other signs include:
-needing instructions to be repeated multiple times
-saying “What?” or “Huh?” several times per day
-misunderstanding what is said often
-difficulty paying attention when someone is talking
-short attention span in general (ADD/ADHD often coexist with APD)
-difficulty with phonics / letter sounds
-being slow to respond to what has been said
-appearing to hear but not understand
How do I find out if my child has an auditory processing disorder?
Auditory processing disorders are typically diagnosed by an audiologist, who rules out a hearing impairment before diagnosing APD. A speech therapist can verify symptoms of APD and provide treatment after a child is diagnosed. They also evaluate and treat language processing disorders, which are similar to APD but involve how receptive and expressive language is processed in the brain rather than auditory input in general. Feel free to contact Child and Family Development if you have any questions about auditory processing.