Want to know more about APD? This article shares the best practices for auditory processing disorder treatment and tools for school-aged children.
Auditory processing disorder, or APD, is a learning disorder that makes it challenging for a person to understand speech. The condition is also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). Researchers and scientists are still trying to discover the causes of APD or CAPD.
If you’re suffering from this disorder or work with students or people affected by it, we’ll show you the tools you can use to help those who have trouble understanding speech.
Auditory processing disorder treatments
It is still unclear what causes auditory processing disorder. The impairment could have links to ear infections, head injury, or premature birth. The scientific community is still working towards understanding the origins of the problem. Most often, healthcare specialists diagnose the impairment in school-age children through an APD test.
Individuals with APD can hear normally. However, the mechanism in their brain that processes the audio input is impaired. In layman’s terms, a person with APD has processing difficulties and trouble organizing, receiving, and making sense of the sounds they hear.
Treatment plans for APD typically involve a combination of interventions. They may include direct therapies, such as auditory training programs or speech-language therapy, which can help improve auditory skills and communication abilities. Environmental modifications are also crucial, which might involve using devices to reduce background noise, or sitting closer to the teacher in a classroom setting. Furthermore, compensatory strategies such as learning to use visual cues and improving memory and attention skills can also be beneficial. Consultation with a team of professionals, including audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and educational professionals is essential for a comprehensive treatment approach.
It is important to note that APD is not a language processing disorder (LPD). Additionally, while many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) also have APD, the two disorders are different, and someone may have APD but not ASD.
Symptoms and effects on people with APD
In terms of diagnosing APD, some specialists aren’t sure whether they should consider it a separate disorder or not. This is why the prevalence rate of APD can vary from 0.5% to 7% of the population.
Symptoms of APD
Many of APD’s symptoms overlap with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and multiple learning disabilities.
Here is an overview of symptoms of auditory processing disorder:
- Challenge in hearing speech in a noisy environment
- Difficulty paying attention
- Issues locating sound sources
- Asking the speaker to repeat information too often
- Inability to follow directions
- Hearing loss
- Inability to detect subtle tone changes
- Difficulty reading or learning to read
- Inattentive and distracted behavior
- Poor spelling, reading, and other academic difficulties
APD symptoms can interfere with both language skills and listening skills. The auditory system impairments make it not only challenging for a person to achieve academic success. They can also have difficulties maintaining a phone conversation, understanding directions, effectively problem-solving, and may experience workplace-related issues.
Audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and psychologists do APD screening with a range of listening tests or hearing tests that examine the person’s auditory system, attention, processing, memory, and other abilities.
Here’s an overview of the four auditory skill areas that could prove problematic for a person with auditory processing disorder:
Auditory discrimination refers to the person’s ability to distinguish between different and similar sounds in a word like those with normal hearing capabilities. This is a must-need skill to master reading.
Auditory figure-ground discrimination
The auditory figure-ground discrimination is the person’s ability to focus on particular sounds in a noisy environment.
This is the person’s ability to remember (both in the short and long term) information relayed orally.
Sequencing refers to understanding and remembering the order of words and sounds.
An issue with any of the four areas above could indicate APD.
Tools that help children with APD in school
There are numerous ways to perform auditory training to help problem-solve a child’s auditory deficits.
Audio listening with text to speech
Assistive technology like audio listening with text to speech can help children with APD understand and read content faster. Text to speech software allows children to hear and see the text simultaneously. Simply put, they can click on any word and listen to the computer say it. If an APD-attended child struggles with decoding or has similar word processing problems, they can benefit from TTS software as well.
Children who have difficulty understanding some TTS voices can try different options and adjust the reading speed to find the best solution.
The App Store and Google Play have apps that help those with APD work on their acoustics skills and receive high-quality auditory training.
Apps such as Auditory Processing Studio offers fun and engaging exercises for children to work on auditory skills. RoboFonic is another interesting game that uses friendly characters and music to boost auditory processing skills.
Workers in special education can use a range of productivity tools to assist APD children and help with their learning problems. Text to speech software like Speechify is a great example of how an assistive technology tool can make a student more productive.
Forbrain is another tool that helps children hear and process sounds they make in a better way. This gives them the boost they need to feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts.
Noise-canceling headphones are excellent for children who can’t function well in noisy environments.
These headphones block the background noise for noise-sensitive children, making it easier for them to listen to audio material. For online teaching, the child can hear the teacher’s voice through headphones and filter the distracting noise.
Some additional compensatory strategies for people with CAPD include:
- Lip-reading when listening at school or at home
- Paying attention to classroom visuals
- Asking the teacher to repeat or speak louder
- Writing down difficult words
Speechify is an app and browser extension that uses sophisticated text to speech technology. This software allows those with APD and other learning disabilities to perform better in school, be more productive, and feel less stressed about performing daily tasks.
Users can sign up for a free version or get a premium subscription, depending on how much flexibility they need. The human-like natural voice, ability to speed up or slow down the recording, and read just about any piece of written information out loud make Speechify worth trying. You can visit the official website for more information and sign up for the service anytime.
How can I find a qualified therapist for auditory processing disorder?
If word of mouth or direct referral are no help, use reliable sources like the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for recommendations.
What is the Lidcombe Program?
The Lidcombe Program is a behavioral treatment for children who stutter. It is suitable for those younger than six but can also be relatable to some older kids.
What are the benefits of auditory processing therapy?
Auditory processing therapy is proven effective for children with hearing problems, autism, and other language disorders. Therapy can also help with nervous system changes for conditions like depression.
Is auditory processing disorder something that can be cured?
Audiology, nervous system specialists, and speech-language pathologists can help people affected by APD. Much like for people with dyslexia, it’s possible to adjust lifestyle habits and work on auditory attention and other skills to minimize the condition’s effects on daily life.
What are the three main categories of auditory processing remediation?
The three most highly recommended auditory processing remediation treatments include speech therapy, accommodations, and reinforcing the person’s other skills.
How can I improve my auditory processing skills?
If you have impaired auditory processing skills, you can work independently to improve your acquisition of auditory information. This can include raising awareness of phonemes and letter sounds, practicing discrimination of sounds, attending to sound patterns, finding the differences between similar words, etc.
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